Hitting the Books: When in Doubt…Practice!

By Loren Deutsch

In my last blog I wrote a lot about reading and practice questions and how both are necessary to for memory consolidation and performance on tests. Below is a shorter explanation about why this is the case. Let me know what you think!

When a student practices questions in preparation for an exam it is the process of practicing questions that helps consolidate the learned information, improve memory retention and retrieval.

A deep understanding of information in a particular area, often referred to as fund of knowledge, largely stems from reading, but without the process of memory consolidation and practiced retrieval, the automaticity with which an individual may respond to any number of experiences will be slowed. This is largely due to the fact that one needs time to excavate information that is not well organized or practiced.

Reading completion and reading comprehension are an important priority in learning, but they do not guarantee that a student will sufficiently remember all relevant information or excel on a test (Callender & McDaniel, 2009). Practicing questions is an additional step that is essential to consolidate new information into long-term memory. The research supporting that active retrieval produces better retention than passive reading and rereading has been discussed in the education and cognitive psychology literature for more than 100 years (Abbott, 1909).

What do you think?

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