Practicing Memory Recall Boosts Science Learning

  • Written by:  test_admin
  • Date Posted:  May 11th, 2011
  • Category:  Uncategorized
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Psychology researchers recently found that practicing memory recall lead to improved long-term retention of science information when compared to other learning techniques.

The researchers compared students that learned by using concept maps versus a second group that practiced retrieval. They found the students who practiced retrieval to perform better in long-term retention tests.

This learning and memory research could help improve science teaching methods and lead to new strategies to teach science more effectively.

Read the release below for a more detailed explanation.

Science Learning Easier When Students Put Down Textbooks and Actively Recall Information
Actively recalling information from memory beats elaborate study methods

Put down those science text books and work at recalling information from memory. That’s the shorthand take away message of new research from Purdue University that says practicing memory retrieval boosts science learning far better than elaborate study methods.

“Our view is that learning is not about studying or getting knowledge ‘in memory,’” said Purdue psychology professor Jeffrey Karpicke, the lead investigator for the study that appears today in the journal Science. “Learning is about retrieving. So it is important to make retrieval practice an integral part of the learning process.”

Educators traditionally rely on learning activities that encourage elaborate study routines and techniques focused on improving the encoding of information into memory. But, when students practice retrieval, they set aside the material they are trying to learn and instead practice calling it to mind.

The study, “Retrieval Practice Produces More Learning Than Elaborative Studying With Concept Mapping,” tested both learning strategies alongside each other. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation’s Division of Undergraduate Education.

“In prior research, we established that practicing retrieval is a powerful way to improve learning,” said Karpicke. “Here we put retrieval practice to the test by comparing its effectiveness to an elaborative study method, specifically elaborative studying by creating concept maps.”

Concept mapping requires students to construct a diagram–typically using nodes or bubbles–that shows relationships among ideas, characteristics or materials. These concepts are then written down as a way of encoding them in a person’s memory.

The researchers say the practice is used extensively for learning about concepts in sciences such as biology, chemistry or physics.

In two studies, reported by Karpicke and his colleague, Purdue University psychology student Janell Blunt, a total of 200 students studied texts on topics from different science disciplines. One group engaged in elaborative study using concept maps while a second group practiced retrieval; they read the texts, then put them away and practiced freely recalling concepts from the text.

 

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