Learning and Remembering Tips from The University of Waterloo (Canada)

Most students express a wish to be more efficient in their studies. Knowing how your brain takes in and processes information, and then working with this system, will greatly improve your efficiency.

TRY

taking a break of 10 minutes for every 50 minutes of work; this will help you retain information.

WHY?

Because learning does not occur by simply stuffing material into short-term-memory. Learning occurs when what you put into short-term-memory connects--integrates--with what you already know (which is stored in long-term-memory). This connection occurs naturally--and you experience the peak of your learning--when you stop inputting and relax (although you may think about the connections that are occuring).


TRY

reviewing your notes (by doing something with the new material--reading, thinking, writing, or talking about it) at the end of the day, giving 10 minutes for every hour of new material you took in and want to retain.

WHY?

Because research (into something called the Curve of Forgetting) has shown that if you don't recall or review or work with what you have learned on a given day, within 24 hours you will forget 50 - 80% of it.


TRY

reviewing your notes (see above) at the end of the week, giving 5 minutes to each hour of new material for that week, then giving the same material 2-4 minutes of review at the end of the month.

WHY?

Because the Curve of Forgetting indicates that these reviews are also required to be able to remember and reproduce something. If you pay attention to the daily and weekly reviews, the monthly ones may be taken care of in the course of studying for mid-terms.


TRY

changing subjects or tasks every hour.

WHY?

Because the brain does not easily assimilate the same or similar material hour after hour. This means that, when studying, you might read for an hour then do questions for an hour. And you wouldn't follow French verbs with German verbs. This also means that anything you want to learn and remember (like an assignment) should be started early and done over many nights. (Besides helping your brain take in the material, this sets up a routine of working with it more than once, which aids the review process that is essential to learning).




Maintained by slaverdi@nh1adm.uwaterloo.ca
Last updated October, 1995