October 8, 2021

Best learning techniques

Not all the students are equally efective at studying. While some do well in school, others struggle to learn and retain information. 

This is because they don´t follow the most effective techniques for learning.

While we all know several studying techniques, we normally are not aware of the differences in effectiveness. We tend to use a technique that works best for us without considering if it will work better or worse with other people.

This article presents you with different methods for improving your study skills. It also explains why one method may be more efficient than another. 

best learning techniques
laptop, woman, education @ Pixabay


How useful are the 10 most used learning techniques

In a study named "Improving Students’ Learning With Effective Learning Techniques: Promising Directions From Cognitive and Educational Psychology" John Dunlovsky and others compared how effective were different learning techniques. 

10. Reading and highlighting. Utility low

Highlight important words or phrases as soon as you come across them during readings. Underline key points or sentences that summarize the main point of the text.

Sorry folks who love to fill the page with bright colors. Despite its popularity, Dunlosky claims that performance after reading and highlighting is not superior to performance after reading alone.

9. Textual imagery. Utility low.

This technique entails creating mental representations that expand on the subject being examined. Imagery helps you visualize information. When you see pictures, you automatically recall details related to those pictures. 

According to Dunlonsky's studies, the effects of mental visualization are transient. Furthermore, the method does not appear to be universally applicable.

8. Mnemonic for a keyword. Utility low. 

Keywords are short terms that remind you of the content of the passage. Use these keywords to create memory images. For example, HOMES is a mnemonic to remember all the lakes in the northern part of the united states (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Eire and superior)

This method is especially useful when learning new words or a foreign language. It entails the use of a keyword to represent the new phrase. This technique's usefulness is not supported by research.

7. Rereading. Utility low.

Rereading, maybe the most popular practice, appears to aid with knowing but not understanding. That is, it improves pupils' ability to recall information, but it does not help their learning for that issue.

6. Summarisation. Utility low.

Learning can be aided by paraphrasing the most important ideas in a text.Summarize the main points of the text using bullet lists. Make notes in margins or write down thoughts as they occur.

The problem is that summarisation depends a lot on the quality of the summary. If the summary does not show the main points of the material is much less useful. That´s why Dunlosky thinks that rhis strategy, however, is only effective when pupils have been thoroughly instructed in how to write summaries. Dunlosky contends that the requirement for considerable training - which rarely occurs - restricts the technique's applicability and that other, less-demanding tactics should be adopted instead.

Summarisation helps later performance on generative measures (e.g., free recall, essays) more than it affects performance on multiple-choice or other measures that do not require the student to produce information (e.g., Bednall & Kehoe, 2011; L. W. Brooks et al., 1983; J. R. King, Biggs, & Lipsky, 1984). Because summarizing requires production, the processing involved is likely a better match to generative tests than to tests that depend on recognition.

With those important caveats, Dunlovsky admits that several studies have indicated that when summarization does boost performance, its effects are relatively robust over delays of days or weeks (e.g., Bretzing & Kulhavy, 1979; B. L. Stein & Kirby, 1992).  

5. Self-Explanation. Utility moderate. 

When students explain how new material relates to what they already know, they adopt this method.When you explain things to yourself, you make sure you really understand them. If you find any mistakes, correct them immediately. Relating fresh content to past knowledge generates new linkages and speeds up the development of schemes.

Dunlosky says that taking together the outcomes of the few studies the results are promising, but considerably more research is needed before confident conclusions can be made about the longevity of self-explanation effects.

4. Elaborative questioning. Utility moderate. 

This method entails asking and responding to Why and How inquiries. That is, thinking about a subject in greater depth and complexity, which develops brain connections. Read our post relative to elaborative questioning.

Dunlovsky considers this technique as having a moderate utility. It is useful for a lot of topics and age groups, but while it does not require particular training, some results have suggested that effects may be enhanced if students are taught how to effectively implement the self-explanation strategy. Another concern has to do with the nontrivial time demands associated with self-explanation, at least at the dosages examined in most of the research that has shown effects of this strategy.

how effective are learning techniques
man, writing, laptop @ Pixabay

3. Interleaving. Utility moderate. 

The method of rearranging the order of questions across different topics is known as interleaving. According to research, this strategy is especially helpful for teaching Math and sections of the Science topic. Students often learn approach A and then solve a series of problems that require strategy A, followed by strategy B. Interleaving would include learning strategies A and B and solving problems that need one or the other in a pseudo-random order. As a result, students must deduce the best technique from the problem itself, resulting in a deeper comprehension of the subject and superior exam preparation.

At least some of the benefits of interleaved practice may reflect the benefits of distributed practice. However, some researchers have investigated the benefits of interleaved practice with spacing held constant (e.g., Kang & Pashler, 2012; Mitchell, Nash, & Hall, 2008), and the results suggested that spacing is not responsible for interleaving effects.

2. Distributed practice. Utlility high.

Cramming is the polar opposite of distributed practice. Small chunks of content studied over time are more effective than large blocks of the same topic studied only once, according to research. To use it effectively, students should begin preparing well in advance of their exam dates and organize their time using a calendar. Teachers should review not only the preceding lesson, but also teachings from far earlier in the year, in the classroom.

Distributed practice can encompass both spacing effects (i.e., the advantage of spaced over massed practice) and lag effects (i.e., the advantage of spacing with longer lags over spacing with shorter lags).

1. Practice testing. Utility high. 

According to Dunlosky's research, practice testing is the most effective technique.Since the seminal study by Abbott (1909), more than 100 years of research has yielded several hundred experiments showing that practice testing enhances learning and retention (for recent reviews, see Rawson & Dunlosky, 2011; Roediger & Butler, 2011; Roediger, Putnam, & Smith, 2011). Even in 1906, Edward Thorndike recommended that “the active recall of a fact from within is, as a rule, better than its impression from without”

Practice testing includes the low stakes tests that teachers can do to students and also the self tests that students do by themselves. 

Practice testing entails learning and reviewing by answering questions and actively recalling knowledge. This allows knowledge to be reconsolidated, new connections to be formed, and memory and comprehension to be strengthened. Teachers should always provide low-stakes quizzes when reviewing topics in class. These can be of numerous forms, as long as active retrieval is required. Feedback should be sent as soon as possible.

How to apply this?

There are some consequences that you can get from this study: 

1. Cramming may serve you to pass an exam but not to learn.

2. Don´t lose your time highlighting. 

3. Establish study sessions that are not to long and mix different topics.

4. Start by posing some simple questions. 

5. When you end try to explain the topic to yourself and test how well you did. 

 Studying result is not concentration x study time. It is more something like: 

concentration x efficiency of the study technique x study time. 

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