Learning memory and retention

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Retention of learned information can be defined as having the information stored in long-term memory in such a way that it can be readily retrieved, for example, in response to standard prompts.

Students retain what they learn

When deciding what to commit to long-term memory, the brain asks itself two basic questions: does the information make sense, and does it have meaning? If what students have heard or read does not make sense to them, they will quickly forget it. Imagine reading a complex manual on aeronautical engineering. Assuming that you are not an expert in this field, you will encounter lots of technical jargon that makes little sense to you. Even though what you are reading about has a great deal of relevance in the real world, the fact that you are unable to understand it, means that your brain is likely not to hold the information for very long.

When assessing whether information has meaning, the brain tries to figure out if what it has learned is actually relevant and worth remembering.

What this tells us is that retaining knowledge requires students to fully understand the material and to believe that it matters. Instruction that emphasizes discussion, extensive writing, application of concepts, and building on ideas over time achieves this objective because it asks students to actively construct knowledge and to draw on that knowledge to generate something new. Instruction that emphasizes surface-level recall of content and a curriculum comprised of disconnected supplemental texts fails on both counts.

If we want our learning to stick, we need to be doing more than just reading a textbook or passively listening to our teachers. Of course, most learning will inevitably involve some reading and listening, but by using a variety of techniques to cement new information in our minds, we'll be far more likely to retain it in the long-term.

With the passage of time, various techniques have been invented to improve learning and retention.

When you engage more of your senses in the learning process you will be able to recall better what you learn. Researches shows that visuals in particular can help us to retrieve information more easily. Visuals have also been shown to transmit messages faster and improve overall comprehension, so whenever possible, try to use visual learning aids such as instructional videos, documentaries, infographics, photos, maps and charts to enhance your learning.

In order to retain what you have learned, you need to understand the topic inside out, which is why demonstrations can be very effective. Unlike simply reading or listening to an explanation, demonstrations show you how something works and help you visualise the concept.

Discussing what you have learned, whether immediately or a few days down the line, is important because it forces you to actively process the material. So whenever possible, try to participate in group discussions where you can have the opportunity to go through the material you have learned, gain new perspectives and discuss any potential misunderstandings.

Putting your learning into practice is important for cementing it in your mind, because practice creates new neural pathways in the brain. Each time you practice a new skill or apply some new piece of information in a practical way, those pathways are strengthened and you will be less and less likely to forget what you have learned.

Unless you are an expert on a particular topic, you probably may not consider teaching it to others, but researches show that explaining a concept to someone else is the best way to learn it yourself. With this in mind, if you really want your learning to stick, you may want to consider looking for someone to tutor or offer to help your fellow students with their homework.

When you are learning something completely new, one way to help it stick in your memory is to connect it with something you have already learned. In one study, participants who were provided with relevant cues before listening to prose passages were better at recalling them later than those who had received no cues or contextual knowledge beforehand.

Avoid being too quick to grab your textbook or consult Google when you can not remember some important piece of information. Instead, try to remember. what you've already got stored away in your brain.

If you want to retain something you have read you will have a better chance of doing so if you read it out loud.

Although most students these days prefer to type than write by hand, the act of putting pen to paper is still important when it comes to committing new information to memory. One reason for this is that writing by hand typically requires more effort and takes longer than typing, which forces the brain to fully engage with the new material.

No one likes making mistakes, but research shows that making mistakes while learning actually benefits memory. In one study, participants who had made mistakes while trying to find the right answer were better able to remember the correct information later on.

Try new learning styles. Everything becomes monotonous if it becomes a routine for long periods. Keep changing your study timetable so that it does not become boring.

Create a framework and organize ideas. The messier the things are, the less likely it is for you to concentrate. Clear your mind to structure and organise.

Practice and review materials several times. Do not just study and forget about them to be remembered at the eleventh hour of examination. Keep reviewing it every now and then.

Be strategic about studying. There are students who give so many hours to study daily yet are unable to recall well when needed. The best way to overcome this problem is to be strategic while studying. Form a strategy to study more effectively.

Create tables, charts, and other aids as needed. placing them in your room near your study table helps you recollect information easily when needed.

Use your own words to explain concepts. There might be terms that you don't understand or the text language that you cannot process. Just try to rephrase that particular information for easy analysis.

Turn off T.V., phone, and other electronic gadgets near you so that you can concentrate on what you are studying.

  • Use Visual Aids
  • Seek Out Demonstrations
  • Participate in Group Discussions
  • Put It Into Practice
  • Look For Opportunities to Teach Others
  • Relate New Material to What You Already Know
  • Make an Effort to Retrieve Information From Memory
  • Read Out Loud
  • Write by Hand
  • Embrace Your Mistakes
  • Be Flexible
  • Make a List
  • Review
  • Schedule
  • Use a Support
  • Rephrase
  • Avoid Distractions

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