Old school teaching better for retaining knowledge
Published 21/01/2011 | 11:16
Old-fashioned teaching exercises like reciting times tables and verb conjugations are better than trendy new teaching methods, a study suggests.
Researchers believe that reciting facts shortly after learning them is better than many new-style educational methods.
The "simple recall" seems to cement the knowledge "in memory" so it is more permanently embedded for use later.
Many modern teachers rely heavily on learning techniques like concept or mind mapping to help students retain the most from the texts they read, the study said.
This involves drawing elaborate diagrams to represent relationship between words, ideas and tasks.
But two experiments, carried out by Dr Jeffrey Karpicke at Purdue University, Indiana, concluded that this was less effective than constant informal testing and reciting.
Dr Karpicke asked around 100 college students to recall in writing, in no particular order, as much as they could from what they had just read from science material.
Although most students expected to learn more from the mapping approach, the retrieval exercise actually worked much better to strengthen both short-term and long-term memory.
The results support the idea that retrieval is not merely scouring for and spilling out the knowledge stored in one’s mind — the act of reconstructing knowledge itself is a powerful tool that enhances learning about science.
The study was published in the journal Science.