In school settings, December frequently signals the end of the first semester. Whether the semester actually ends prior to the Christmas holidays or shortly after students return in January, many teachers find themselves using the time to help students review what they have learned over the course of the semester. This week’s OnPractice is devoted to looking at how to practically apply some of the recent research about the way the brain learns, remembers, and retrieves information.
According to researchers Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger, III, & Mark A. McDaniel, “learning is deeper and more durable when it’s effortful.” Asking students to retrieve information is a far better way to help them learn it than simply having them review and re-read it. While retrieval practices—such as frequent quizzing—are initially harder for students, it is precisely this effort that helps the learning to stick. Even if students get the answer wrong the first time, they are more likely to get it correct the next time they have to retrieve it.
Some Practical Applications:
Turn frequent quizzing practices into games by adding an element of competition.
Use quizzes as a means to review for a test.
Another technique that research has shown to be effective in helping students learn is that of mixed practice. This goes hand-in-hand with the research on effortful learning. Students who are asked to discriminate among types of problems before solving them actually do better than those who have only seen the same type of problem or concept massed together. “Research shows unequivocally that mastery and long-term retention are much better if you interleave practice than if you mass it.”
A Practical Application:
For more review ideas, check out the Dec. 4, 2013 blog. If you would like to share review ideas with us, add a comment to the OnPractice blog.
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