Sometimes studying comes easily – read, remember, rinse, repeat. Other times it’s like chewing concrete and it doesn’t seem to matter how much time you spend going over the material, when it comes time to remember there’s nothing but chirping crickets.
Researchers have now found a way to study more effectively so that recall is greater.
What They Did
Researchers divided participants into two groups. One group was told they would be tested on material they were to study and the other group was led to believe that they would be teaching the material to another student.
What They Found
Findings revealed that when people believed they would have to teach what they learned, they recalled more of the material and performed better on a test than their peers who expected only a test.
As explained by lead researcher Dr John Nestojko, ‘When compared to learners expecting a test, learners expecting to teach recalled more material correctly, they organized their recall more effectively and they had better memory for especially important information.’
Instilling an expectation to teach is an easy intervention that can take be done by teachers in the classroom or parents at home (‘after you’ve learnt it, teach it to me’) to increase learning efficiency. If you’re a student, learn the material then write the ‘handout’, imagining you’ll be using it to explain the material you’ve just learnt to others .
‘What I find most intriguing about this research is that learning was significantly impacted even though we did nothing more than alter participants’ expectations prior to learning,’ Nestojko said.
Learning material with an intention to teach ensures that material is actively understood, rather than passively looked over. Whether or not it’s actually taught is irrelevant. What’s important is the mindset.
My school uses a method called narration, from Charlotte Mason, that creates a prelearning expectation similar to Nestojko’s research.
Yes that’s a great method. Anything that teaches ‘learning by understanding’ rather than ‘learning by memory’ is a good thing. Would love to see more of it! Thank you for taking the time to make contact.