The Most Effective Learning Techniques

College is often very hectic. There will be several requirements which need to be submitted from one class on top of the other. Exams are also scheduled consecutively sometimes. So, studying might be difficult for some students especially now that they will have to learn almost everything on their own because of the Remote Learning setup.

There will always be unique ways per student on how to effectively learn or study depending on how well they can adapt to a specific technique. However, it is also important to note that effective learning also means being able to absorb long-term knowledge.

In an article released at the UC San Diego website, Department of Psychology, there are two (2) general methods of learning that are most effective according to decades of learning science research. These are the Spaced/Distributed Practice and Retrieval Practice / Practice Testing. These methods can be combined to make studying even more effective.

Let’s find out the difference and why these two methods are the most effective learning techniques according to research:

Spaced/Distributed Practice

Spaced or Distributed Practice gives importance to WHEN you should study. Knowing when to study makes a big difference with how much information you get to absorb and how well you can perform.

For this method, it is advised to NOT CRAM when trying to study especially for an exam. Usually when cramming, you get to study 1 or 2 days before the scheduled examination. Studying everything in a short amount of time may cause problems in absorbing the important details of information which you have to learn. This will also lead you to forget the studied information in just a few days which means the effort you took in repeating information in one sitting might just go to waste.

This method works best when you try to schedule your studying in multiple sessions in a span of time. This means that each session can have a shorter amount of time than studying in just one sitting. Using this method, you can focus at one lesson or topic per session which leads to more time to absorb information and even do a review multiple times. Using this method, you will be able to encode the information in your long-term memory and fill in the gaps when absorbing information.

Retrieval Practice/Practice Testing

The Retrieval Practice or Practice testing has been proven by almost 200 studies to benefit the human memory. This is because this method focuses on WHAT you should do when studying and gives importance to the retrieval of information from what you have studied.

Although this highlights retrieval of information, practice testing does not encourage for you to simply restudy, reread, and review information. This is because these are not the actual cognitive processes that exams require. Examinations are made for your brain to retrieve information from your memory without the lecture notes, slides, and textbooks. Therefore, the better you absorb the information, the greater chances of success.

This method simply involves a “recalling-to-be-remembered information from memory” according to the  UC San Diego website.

As mentioned above, you may try to combine both Spaced Practice and Retrieval Practice when you try to study. Research shows that your ability to absorb information and retain them for a long period of time is maximized when you combine these methods.

Link to resources and other related readings:

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