Here’s one of those articles that really shouldn’t be missed, particularly for those with interest in making teaching and learning more evidence-based. Current thinking about evidence-based teaching and learning tends to be more generic than specific. Use any active learning strategy intermittently or even regularly, and some would call the teaching evidence-based. That’s a superficial understanding of what it means to use practices that have been proven to promote learning. This article leads to a deeper level of understanding.
It’s a review of mostly cognitive psychology research that explores 10 learning techniques. The cognitive psychologist authors provide the background. “Psychologists have been developing and evaluating the efficacy of techniques for study and instruction for more than 100 years. Nevertheless, some effective techniques are underutilized—many teachers do not learn about them, and hence many students do not use them, despite evidence suggesting that the techniques could benefit student achievement and with little added effort. Also, some learning techniques that are popular and often used by students are relatively ineffective.” (p. 5)
Here are brief descriptions of the 10 learning strategies reviewed in the article.
- Elaborative interrogation—generating an explanation for why some fact or concept is true
- Self-explanation—explaining how new information is related to what is already known, or explaining steps taken during problem solving
- Summarization—writing summaries of text content to expedite learning the material
- Highlighting/underlining—marking potentially important text passages while reading
- Keyword mnemonic—using keywords and mental imagery to associate verbal materials
- Imagery for text—attempting to form mental images of text material while reading or listening
- Rereading—reading text material again after having read it initially
- Practice testing—self-testing or taking practice tests on the material to be learned
- Distributed practice—scheduling practice so that it spreads study activities over time
- Interleaved practice—mixing different kinds of problems or materials within a single study session