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Effective learning techniques for enhanced performance

Effective learning techniques for enhanced performance

By / Feb 13, 2019

Some students breeze through their school years, while others struggle, putting them at risk of getting lost in our educational system and not performing up to their full potential. Teachers and parents extend their full support and want the students to succeed but there is no clarity among them as to which learning techniques would be most productive for those students to reach their potential.

Fortunately psychological scientists have listed and evaluated several learning techniques, which can be very valuable and promise better academic performance among students who are lagging behind.

In a scholarly report based on a study of the learning behaviors 6,000 GRE Test Takers and 14,000 SAT Takers in the year 2013,Dunlosky (Kent State University), Rawson (Kent State University), Marsh (Duke University), Nathan (University of Wisconsin–Madison), and Willingham (University of Virginia) review the effectiveness of 10 commonly used learning techniques.

Those techniques are as follows:
1. Elaborative interrogation
They suggest that students must be encouraged to question why a stated fact or concept is true. Just to take a fact or concept at its face value does not create an indelible impression in their mind. So, keep questioning everything that is learnt or taught.

2. Self-explanation
This implies explaining how new information is related to known information, or explaining steps taken during problem solving. This helps student imbibe the whole process that goes into problem solving. Finer nuances are questioned and understood, which make the learning more concrete and lasting.

3. Summarization
Writing summaries of various lengths of the texts to be learned, improves predictive skills of the content and information to be learned. This also develops expectations from a concept and thus the student is clear as to what learning would be assimilated from a lecture or session. This makes the student more receptive.

4. Highlighting/underlining
Marking potentially important portions from the learning material automatically flags those areas in the mind and whenever the student browses through those texts, the student is able to recall them subconsciously and learning is reinforced.

5. Keyword mnemonics
When student associates keywords with mental imagery, student is able to adapt the new information with whatever the student is very familiar with. Thus such associations and correlations enhance retention as well as reproduction.

6. Imagery for text
This involves attempting to create mental images, charts or process diagrams from reading or listening. This develops logic and clarity as to the sequence of steps and the student is able to visualize thing from an application perspective.

7. Rereading
Restudying text material again after an initial reading reassures student that he has covered a portion and thus develops confidence in those areas.

8. Practice testing
Self-testing or taking practice tests before starting a concept or topic flags all those areas which need additional attention and testing after the portion is covered reinforces the learning and develops confidence. Remedial testing is of great use to bolster those concepts where the student lacks.

9. Distributed practice
Implementing a schedule of practice where the sessions are spread out over a time helps in enhancing better recall. This ensures that the learning is not superficial and that the learnt porting gets deeply embedded in the permanent memory.

10. Interleaved practice
Implementing a schedule that mixes different kinds of problems, or a study schedule that mixes various kinds of material, within a single study session, helps students switch from one concept to the other with ease. Students are training themselves by throwing curve balls and the mind is getting tuned to make strategic decisions.

Utility Assessments of these learning techniques
*Adapted from: Improving Students’ Learning With Effective Learning Techniques: Promising Directions From Cognitive and Educational Psychology

John Dunlosky , Katherine A. Rawson , Elizabeth J. Marsh , Mitchell J. Nathan , and Daniel T. Willingham

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Last updated on : Jun 08, 2023