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Study Suggests That We Should Re-Think Learning Methods For Long-Term Retention

When you look back on your school days, doesn't it seem like you studied all the time? However, most of us seem to have retained almost nothing from our early immersion in math, history, and foreign language.

Were we studying the wrong way during all those wee hours? Well, as it turns out we may have been. Psychologists have been assessing how well various study strategies produce long-term learning, and it appears that some strategies really do work much better than others.
Consider "overlearning." That's the term learning specialists use for studying material immediately after you've mastered it. Say you're studying new vocabulary words, flash-card style, and you finally run through the whole list error-free; any study beyond that point is overlearning. Is this just a waste of valuable time, or does this extra effort embed the new memory for the long haul?

University of South Florida psychologist Doug Rohrer decided to explore this question scientifically. Working with Hal Pashler of the University of California, San Diego, he had two groups of students study new vocabulary in different ways. One group ran through the list five times; these students got a perfect score no more than once. The others kept drilling, for a total of ten trials; with this extra effort, the students had at least three perfect run-throughs. Then the psychologists tested all the students, some one week later and others four weeks later.

Click here to see the rest of this article in Medical News Today


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