Chapter 10 of Learner-Centered Teaching focuses on research about what helps and hinders the recall of information in college.
More importantly, though, are ways to teach for long-term recall.
- Teach students to space their practice. Basically, cramming does not help long-term memory.
- Use cumulative tests and exams. Basically, keep re-testing the most important elements throughout the semester. Make all tests comprehensive.
- Have students spend time in reflection. The power of reflection causes students to make connections between the new information and what they already know.
- Ask students to explain what they have learned in their own words. This asks students to translate a new pattern into a familiar one. One benefit is that instructors can tell whether students understand the material. Another is that the new pattern will be easier for students because it will be more familiar to them and easier for them to recall.
- Use as much visual information as possible.
Suggestions for students to improve their memories:
- Focus your attention on the materials you are studying. Do not multi-task.
- Don’t cram for exams.
- Structure and organize the information.
- Use mnemonic devices to help you remember details.
- Elaborate and rehearse information.
- Relate new information to prior knowledge.
- Visualize concepts.
- Teach new concepts to another person.
- Pay extra attention to information in the middle of the class.
- Vary your study routine.
I have included Guido Sarducci’s Five Minute University, for your viewing pleasure. (Father Guido Sarducci teaches what an average college graduate knows five years after graduation.)