At the intersect between education and technology

Research-Based Instructional Strategies

Are you a student? Or maybe you are an online-course learner? Or perhaps you are a teacher who is willing to simplify your student’s education? Keep reading – we have some advice for you.

Well, according to psychology investigations it is really difficult to keep your motivation alive during your studying. Every student becomes exhausted of endless researches, learning, essay writing, etc. They don’t have enough time and often google “online GED classes” or other things. Even though we’re living in a world of data and it might be easy to find information, it is, actually, not. However, several research-based instructional strategies might help you. 

The most effective learning techniques

First of all, let’s start with learning techniques that make absorption of the information much faster. There are 10 of them. 

  1. Elaborative interrogation – when you explain to yourself why this fact/information/concept is true.
  2. Self-explanation – find the way to combine new information with already known one.
  3. Summary – write notes summarizing what you have learned.
  4. Highlighting/underlining – while reading you can highlight the most important information.
  5. Keywords – associate words/materials for better memorizing.
  6. Imagery for text – while reading/listening imagine pictures to create anchors and easier remember things.
  7. Rereading.
  8. Practice testing – test yourself after you have learned new material.
  9. Implement practice in life.
  10. Create a schedule for learning/testing/practicing.

Why is repetition important?

Another effective learning technique is repetition. It is proved that learning and repetition at certain intervals are more effective than knocking out all the material at a time. In studies proving the effectiveness of repetition, it is usually compared to two groups of students. One group studies all the material at one time and does not repeat it before the final test, and the second – repeats the study after a certain period. In the final test, the results of the second group are always better than those who haven’t repeated the material. 

The educational material can also “Fade.” If you do not repeat it, you do not strengthen the corresponding ligaments in the brain; this material will gradually disappear from your memory. Remembering is more than action. It is a dynamic process, and it is extremely sensitive to changes. That is why it is so important to repeat – the purposeful attachment of links between the cells of the brain, neurons. Therefore – let’s understand how to repeat effectively:

Repeat at least once 

Let’s turn to one of the first studies of an effective repetition, which was held in 1925. The researchers divided the students into two groups. One group listened to the text six times in a row, and the second – three times in a row on one day and three times in a row in three days. The students had to hear the sound heard twice: immediately after listening to the text six times, and four weeks later. Immediately after listening the best results were shown by the first group, whose members listened to the text six times in a row. However, after four weeks it turned out that the second group remembers the material much better than the first one.

Therefore, the cramming of all the material on the night before the exam is the right strategy if you want to get a good mark. If your goal is to gain knowledge in the long run, you have to repeat the material at least once again.

Repeat at some intervals of time

Researchers are still discussing the optimal interval between studying material and repetition. At the moment, it is recommended to focus on the deadline and the purpose of your studying. The most effective repetition interval is 10-20% of the time between the first study and the moment when it is necessary to recall it. For example, if the exam is a week later, it’s better to study the material and repeat it the next day. And if you want to remember the learned material a year after, you have to repeat the material in three weeks. 

Repeat before bedtime

We hear a lot about the benefits and the need for sleep. One of the reasons is that during the sleep between the cells of the brain new connections are formed, and the old ones are fixed. Therefore, learning before going to bed is especially effective when you need to study the material by heart. At the same time, lack of sleep has a negative effect on our memory. A sufficient amount of sleep (8-10 hours a day) is a pledge of long-term memory. 

How to implement repetition in self-study?

Plan your study time to repeat the mastered material. You have to give up the idea of learning everything the night before the exam. If there is time, plan your studying so you can repeat with increasing intervals. By the way, you can use special free apps. For example, AnkiDroid, Memrise, Quizlet, Cerego. Repeat what you learned before bedtime and make sure you have enough sleep – 8-10 hours a day.

How to organize repetition in your class?

If you are a teacher, an effective repetition can be introduced into the learning process. In particular, you can: 

  • schedule a few minutes each lesson to repeat the material from the previous one;
  • include tasks for repeating previous topics in homework;
  • devote an hour of planning. Help students plan their time well – so that they repeat the material the next day after the class.  

Why is the alternation between topics and tasks?

For productive learning we need practice. Actually, therefore, we solve the tests and tasks, write the works, and answer the open questions. We are guided by one of two strategies: train one skill with a few similar exercises or different skills through different exercises. The last one strategy is calling alternation.

Task rotations during the experiment automatically ensured the repetition of the material for three months. However, this is not the only explanation for alternation efficiency. The alternation teaches you to choose the optimal strategy and use it effectively. It strengthens knowledge in memory and creates connections between them. 

How to implement alternation in self-study?

  • The skills you train should be interlinked.
  • Alternate old and new learning material.
  • Alternate the theory and practice.
  • Combine alternation with other training strategies.
  • Do not give up if you do not see instant results.

How to organize alternation in class?

  • Combine practice and theory in homework.
  • Mix different types of tasks from a new theme and previous topics.
  • Mix tasks from related items.
  • Highlight the class hour to tell students about strategies for effective learning.