Tag Archives: Retention Toolkit

The Retention Toolkit: Introduction

In this series of posts, I look at research into how the human mind gains, and more importantly, retains knowledge. Most of these methods have been used for hundreds of years, some beyond that, simply because they made logical sense to educators in the past. Cognitive science is now confirming what the great teachers of the past reasoned to be true.

Like any toolkit, not every tool will be appropriate for every job. By compiling a list of tools here, you can pick and choose from amongst them when asking yourself how best to approach a subject. I cannot claim this list is exhaustive, but any time I find a new retention tool in my research, I will post about it and link it into this series.

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The Retention Toolkit #2: Spacing Effect

klsgfx-Swiss-Army-Knife-2The Retention Toolkit is a series of posts describing research based tools which help improve long-term knowledge retention.

In my first post of this series, I presented research on test-enhanced learning: using testing not as an evaluation technique, but as a learning technique to improve retention.  Testing is a far more efficient use of time than study techniques such as rereading, reviewing lecture notes, or making outlines.

But how is test-enhanced learning best implemented?  Research in human memory shows that timing is everything.  It’s called the spacing effect.

Information that is spaced over time is better remembered than the same amount of information massed together.(1)

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The Retention Toolkit #1 : Retrieval Practice

klsgfx-Swiss-Army-Knife-2The Retention Toolkit is a series of posts describing research based tools which help improve long-term knowledge retention.

Imagine the following scenario: You are presented with a Swahili-English word pair list to study for a fixed amount of time. An hour later, you have a choice: You can either re-study the list, or use a blank sheet of paper to attempt to recall all the word pairs you can. You will be tested on this material in one week. What should you choose?

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