Did you ever see a textbook filled with highlighted passages? Of, have you ever re-read the same passage several times in an attempt to remember it? When it comes to learning….both these efforts have been proven ineffective. Many people believe highlighting and re-reading works because it seems obvious. Yet, the evidence doesn’t support it.
If these techniques do not work that means the information we want to retain will not be there when we need it. It matters not what we’re attempting to learn. Knowledge is like a savings account: We can only take-out what we put-in.
So, how do we make sure the information sticks in our long-term memory? Over a century of research on this topic suggests there are five proven methods. Due to space restrictions we’ll synthesize the findings below.
In Practice: 5 Types of Practice That Yield Results
Retrieval Practice is also effective. This approach utilizes short quizzes or tests. The same premise applies: A number of small quizzes will be far more effective than one big test.
Elaborative Interrogation means that we should be asking ourselves as we learn: What is the purpose of this effort, and how will it be applied?
Self-explanation is a technique whereby we teach ourselves without any assistance. For example, let’s say a supply chain partner doesn’t provide any selling points to assist your efforts (which is common across industries). What do we do? We must figure it out. Business doesn’t always come with a playbook. Sometimes we learn effectively by relying upon our own common sense and talents. The key is to not rely solely on intuition if possible.
- Roediger, H. (2013). Applying Cognitive Psychology to Education. Psychological Science in the Public Interest. 14(1). p. 1-13.