Thursday, July 31, 2014

Why quizzes are better than most study strategies

In the New York Times article, How Tests Make Us Smarter, author and professor Henry L. Roediger III discusses the idea that the best way to ensure learning occurs is by utilizing the principle of spaced repetition. 

Spaced repetition

Spaced repetition is the term used when you allow a period of time to lapse before reviewing new information.  For example, if you have to learn a new procedure at work, study the provided materials.  Wait a couple of days and study the materials again.  The next day, study it one more time.  Spacing out the input of information allows yours brain to integrate the information.

Quizzes better than highlighting

However, what this author discovered in his research, is that just reviewing material does not have the same effectiveness as being quizzed or tested on the material.  What he discovered is that "low-stakes" quizzes where students are quizzed but their grade is not affected, significantly impacted the students' recall of the information, even months later.

Surprisingly, researchers have also found that the most common study strategies - like underlining, highlighting, and rereading - create illusions of mastery but are largely wasted effort, because they do not involve practice in accessing or applying what the students know.

See One, Do One, Teach One

Quizzes and simulations require the recall of information differently than simply studying the materials.  An effective learning model is "see one, do one, teach one" where you first observe (learn) a concept, you apply the concept, and then you teach someone else how to do it.

[Testing] shouldn't be a white-knuckle finale to a semester's work, but the means by which students progress from the start of a semester to its finish ....

If you are a parent or a teacher, I encourage you to read this article and consider applying this principle of quizzed space repetition into your classroom or learning environment.

No comments:

Post a Comment