May 11, 2009

Close the Book. Recall. Write it Down.

Teaching and LearningA recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education discusses the importance of using recall to learn new concepts and ideas. According to the article, two psychology journals just published papers showing that the strategy of recall works. 

According to the author David Glenn, recall is when students put down the text or notes that they are studying and recall everything they can. Students can either write down everything they remember or day it out loud. This active recall, such as using flashcards and other self-quizzing, is the most effective may to add something to your long-term memory.

These recall techniques, according to Dr. McDaniel, a researcher in the field of biology and teaching techniques, “If you ask people to free-recall, you can generate a better mental model of a subject area, and in turn that can lead to better problem-solving.”

This idea of free-recall has also generated some critiques from educators. Some professors have voiced concerns that recall is simply teaching students how to memorize instead of increases levels of higher learning and thinking. Dr. McDaniel argues that although these techniques may aid students in the often-required tasks of memorization, the free-recall tasks actually help to give students the skills needed apply their knowledge.

Read more by clicking here.

More strategies for effective learning can be found at the University of Memphis Department of Psychology's Principles of Learning page. Topics include
All of these topics provide concrete strategies for faculty and students to use to increase learning. Give them a try!

How do you encourage your students to use free-recall techniques or practice retrieval?

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