Study & Education

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  • Even quick and not particularly skilled sketches make simple information significantly more likely to be remembered, probably because drawing incorporates several factors that are known to improve memorability.

In a series of experiments involving college students, drawing pictures was found to be the best strategy for remembering lists of words.

  • A single instance of retrieval, right after learning, is enough to significantly improve your memory, and stop the usual steep forgetting curve for non-core information.

A study involving 60 undergraduate students confirms the value of even a single instance of retrieval practice in an everyday setting, and also confirms the value of cues for peripheral details, which are forgotten more readily.

  • The simple act of repeating something to another person helps you remember it, more than if you just repeated it to yourself.

A Canadian study involving French-speaking university students has found that repeating aloud, especially to another person, improves memory for words.

  • An animal study shows that following learning with a novel experience makes the learning stronger.
  • A human study shows that giving information positive associations improves your memory for future experiences with similar information.

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  • Reading from a screen may encourage users to focus on concrete details rather than more abstract thinking.

Four studies involving a total of more than 300 younger adults (20-24) have looked at information processing on different forms of media.

  • Finger tracing key elements in worked problems seems to help some students better understand and apply mathematical concepts.

I've reported before on studies showing how gesturing can help children with mathematics and problem-solving. A new Australian study involving children aged 9-13 has found that finger-tracing has a similar effect.

  • Two experiments show that exposing students to exceptional examples of work by their peers is discouraging for many.

A natural experiment involving 5,740 participants in a MOOC ( massive open online course) has found that when students were asked to assess each other's work, and the examples were exceptional, a large proportion of students dropped the course.

  • Children taught foreign language vocabulary in the form of a song learned to pronounce the words better than those who learned the words using an oral poem.
  • Recall was also significantly better, and particularly so after six months.

A small study that compared teaching Spanish-speaking children English vocabulary using a song or a spoken poem has found definite and long-term advantages to the song form.

A large study shows how a 45-minute online intervention can improve struggling high school students' attitude to schoolwork, and thus their academic performance.

There's been a lot of talk in recent years about the importance of mindset in learning, with those who have a “growth mindset” (ie believe that intelligence can be developed) being more academically successful than those who believe that intelligence is a fixed attribute.

Three recent studies point to the impact of social media and multiple device use on learning and cognitive control.

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