We now have evidence as to the most effective learning techniques. Here we give an overview of the findings, revealing how you can learn smarter and pass faster.
Top proven study techniques
Although a relatively new field, there are a group of cognitive and computer scientists, linguists and educational psychologists who have united. They collectively call themselves Learning Scientists. By gathering data about student learning they’ve been able to draw conclusions that are “evidence based”.
Here are some of the top 6 “evidence-based” study techniques they found:
1. Spaced practice (distributed)
Evidence shows that if you revisit what you have studied over time it boosts your retrieval and storage strength. Studying in a short period of time, as is the case with cramming, improves retrieval strength but reduces storage strength.
Interleaving is the study of different subjects as opposed to studying one topic very thoroughly - before moving to the next.
One proven technique is for students to alternate between attempting a problem and viewing a worked example. This is much better than attempting to answer one question after another. It’s simply about switching activity.
But be careful, interleaving is best done within a subject, for example it's best to stay with Financial Reporting rather than swapping to Tax or Financial Management .
3. Retrieval practice
The process of reflecting back and having to retrieve a memory of something previously learned is very powerful. There is also an added benefit. If you are told there’s going to be a test, the increased test expectancy leads to better-quality encoding of the new information.
Did you know?
The OnDemand study method has been designed using evidence, to improve the learning experience.
Elaboration, or, adding something new to what you already know.
This might be students asking “how and why” questions in groups and answering them either from their course materials or memory.
5. Concrete examples
Concrete examples make something easier to understand and remember, largely because the brain can recognise and recall concrete words better than abstract ones. It’s been proven that information that is more concrete and imageable enhances the learning of associations, even with abstract content.
By using concrete examples, it makes it much easier to concisely convey information that can be remembered and visualised. It is a good example of Dual coding.
6. Dual coding
When accompanied by complementary visual information, text enhances learning. Dual coding is the use of both text and visuals, replacing a word with a picture is not the same.
At Kaplan, our OnDemand course has been designed using evidence to inform what works best from a learning perspective. It's a new flexible way of learning, combining the principles of instructional design with the convenience and flexibility of virtual study.
Instructional designers follow what is proven to work for learners and incorporate many of the principles in the courses they build. Kaplan's Instructional team have done exactly that, through Duel coding - by presenting both text and images on the screen, Retrieval practice - by using knowledge checks, and Elaboration - by making reference to content previously learned.
All of this makes the Kaplan OnDemand course better by design.
For more information on this topic, register to attend a webinar delivered by CIMA and our Head of Learning, Stuart Pedley Smith. October 30th.