That's the conclusion of Washington University in St. Louis psychologists Henry Roediger and Mark McDaniel — who've spent a combined 80 years studying learning and memory, and recently distilled their findings with novelist Peter Brown in the book Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning.
USING ACTIVE LEARNING STRATEGIES IS MOST EFFECTIVE
The majority of students study by re-reading notes and textbooks — but the psychologists' research, both in lab experiments and of actual students in classes, shows this is a terrible way to learn material. Using active learning strategies — like flashcards, diagramming, and quizzing yourself — is much more effective, as is spacing out studying over time and mixing different topics together.
McDaniel spoke with me about the eight key tips he'd share with students and teachers from his body of research.
1) Don't just re-read your notes and readings
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"We know from surveys that a majority of students, when they study, they typically re-read assignments and notes. Most students say this is their number one go-to strategy.