The New York Times recently ran an article detailing some of the more effective study methods that students of all ages can use in order to retain more information.
Here are a few of the techniques recommended for improving study habits:
- Studying in different rooms can enable students to retain information at a much higher rate. According to Dr. Bjork, who performed a study which focused on studying in different locations, we will associate the information with the background where we studied it; if we study in more than one location, it will create an increased number of neural pathways which make the information we learned easier to recall.
- Studying a variety of inter-related topics at the same timecan also improve the ability of students to remember information. Another study confirmed that fourth graders performed better on a series of math tests when they had studied different kinds of problems at the same time. In an entirely different study, art students were able to better recognize the works of a variety of artists more easily if they had studied the artists at the same time as opposed to individually.
- Studying the same material over a period of time can also improve students’ memorization-capabilities. Again, neural pathways play a role in this- the more time your brain will store the information. The NYT article likens this to a “neural suitcase”.
- Taking self-tests also increase the brain’s ability to remember and hold information. “The harder it is to remember something, the harder it is to later forget. This effect, which researchers call 'desirable difficulty,' is evident in daily life.The harder it is to remember something, the harder it is to later forget. This effect, which researchers call “desirable difficulty,” is evident in daily life.”
The different memory and study techniques are believed to extend to different types of learners and to different types of disciplines as well. More information related to neural pathways and learning can be found at this web site which includes links to several recent articles on the topic.