Spacing Your Learning

So many students cram for exams, pass the test, but later can’t recall what they learned. The secret is to space out your studying to maximize retention. When you finish the video, take the self-appraisal quiz. The video transcript is at the bottom of this page.

Quiz

Spacing Your Learning Quiz

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Which is the best interval for studying?

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Which of the following is true about spaced learning?

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Spaced learning can be incorporated into which of the following?

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Which of the following is true about cramming for an exam?

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Video Transcript

One of the drawbacks of being state-oriented is that you tend to do things at the last minute, which often means cramming for exams. That is, studying for the exam in a long session, maybe the night before the exam, or in the extreme, maybe pulling an all-nighter just before the exam. The problem with those strategies is that you may pick up enough material to do well on the exam, but it’s unlikely you’re going to retain it. Spaced learning on the other hand, is when you learn in small chunks over time. Spaced learning results in longer retention, and in some cases, permanent retention. Cramming almost guarantees you are going to forget most of the material or even all of it. Studying on multiple occasions produces longer learning. And as research has shown in the learning area, the longer the interval, the longer the memory. So a good strategy for learning if your goal is to retain the information, which it should, is that you want to study at well spaced intervals, perhaps weekly, perhaps every couple of days. You want multiple short sessions rather than one long marathon. So if you have an exam, and let’s say the exam is in three weeks, it’s better to study material a little at a time, perhaps every day, every other day, maybe do weekly reviews. And so the night before, you’re mainly reviewing material that you’ve already learned, that kind of a strategy extends retention of learning, which helps not only for the current exam, but for future exams in the same class and beyond. This strategy also fits well with the idea of mini-goals. So you can set mini-goals to study particular material at certain times. So your Monday goal might be to study some of the material for one class, your Tuesday goal is for another class. A good strategy is to decide what you’re going to study when and set a series of mini-goals. That guarantees that you’re going to be spacing your learning.

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