Efficient Learning Techniques
When it comes to trying to store new information in our long-term memory, we all resort to making use of various learning techniques. However, did you know that some techniques, while effective, are not as efficient as others? This is especially true when you factor in the time it takes to use each technique. Take a look at these learning techniques, based on utility level and see how you can apply them to your learning.
A couple of high utility learning techniques are practice testing and distributed practice. Practice tests allow students to gauge how well they are retaining the information as well as allowing them to review all of the important material prior to the test. Distributed practice is where study is broken up into a number of short sessions over a longer period of time. When studying for an exam dispersing your studying over a larger period of time is a more effective practice than one intense study session the night before your exam.
Moderate utility techniques include elaborative interrogation, self-explanation and interleaved practice. Elaborative Interrogation encourages learning through asking the question “Why.” It focuses on enhancing memory by bringing out facts that are learned by encouraging students to generate “Why” questions after reviewing the material. It allows them to be engaged in the active learning process. Self-Explanation has students generating reasons to explain new information. It’s the practice of thinking out loud by having students explaining to themselves what they are doing and thinking. And finally, Interleaved Practice is trying out different types of problems while practicing the material. It’s been proven to increase the ability for students to learn and retain all kinds of knowledge, skills and material.
Last but not least, there are several low utility learning techniques for students as well. All of these are pretty straightforward but can still be effective learning styles for the retention of information. These styles include summarization, which involves the student taking the material and summarizing the lengthy information into their own words to see what they have retained. There is keyword mnemonics, which is associating new words with similar sounding words. You also have visualizing, which is creating mental images while you read. And you also have highlighting, underlining and rereading, which allow you to emphasize key points in the material and review the information multiple times for retention.
These are all very popular learning techniques, but to you some may be better known than others. We encourage you to dive deeper and explore all of these techniques and try out some ones you are less familiar with to see if they will improve your studying and retention rate. Good luck! :)