Our new series, TLDR (Too Long; Didn’t Read), is designed to help the causal reader understand the latest scientific research and findings regarding human learning and memory – so you don’t have to be a neurobiologist to understand the salient points! To get the long of the short of it, move on to the bottom of each post for the TL;DR short.
The study of human learning and memory is constantly inundated with fascinating new insights, and while Knowledge Factor doesn’t necessarily integrate all of them into the amplifire algorithms and design, we do find it all extremely interesting and thought-provoking. The following ideas are just a few that leave us begging the question, “What’s next?!”
Professors of psychology across the nation have put study techniques to the test, and the results are in. Sifting through more than 700 scientific articles on ten commonly used learning techniques, Scientific American revealed the most advantageous ways to study: self-testing and distributed practice. Additionally, the runners-up showed that interleaved practice also proves to shake up study techniques for real efficiency.
Do you follow us on Twitter? If so, you’ve probably fallen asleep at our feed. Sorry about that.
Although we might have been quiet in the Twitterverse, our company’s been anything BUT! Here’s a look at some of the most monumental moments in the past year.
Research has proved that the “spacing effect” promotes long-term retention of new information. So why has it gone ignored? Why are classrooms not taking advantage of this groundbreaking research?
The “spacing effect” shows that when study sessions are repeated over spaced intervals, the brain is more likely to translate the material to long-term memory. But how does this translate into the classroom?
Science has shown that visual cues promote long-term recall. In fact, emerging research including a study at McMaster University, has discovered that visual cues allow information to be more easily embedded into the brain and thus promote long-term memory. This type of learning is called perceptual learning and can be used to encourage the brain to remember information that is important.
In the heart of London, an elite group of people is hard at work to learn “the Knowledge”.
While this might sound like sci-fi, it’s very real. And it’s also the subject of a Wired article, “How Driving a Taxi Changes London Cabbies’ Brains”, which details the intensive learning process that black-cab drivers in central London undergo, and how this rigorous learning process anatomically changes their brains.
What if you could train your brain to automatically recall information quickly and effortlessly? Science shows that training the brain to “automatically recall” information provides benefits to learning that go far beyond simply eliminating the “tip-of-the-tongue” feeling.
Researchers, such as psychology professor Daniel Willingham of the University of Virginia, who has written extensively on learning and memory, have long studied methods that enable the brain to “automatically”* retrieve learning.
Scientific research has proven that retrieval improves retention. Case in point, in a study from Washington University in St. Louis, researchers found that passively reading material does not promote long-term retention. Instead, the key to future recall is active retrieval of information from memory.
You’re driving down a busy street and suddenly a car pulls out in front of you. Do you pause and take a minute to assess how to properly react? Of course not. Your brain immediately reacts to avoid an accident.
This is an example of perceptual learning at its finest. Perceptual learning occurs when, after repeated exposure to an environmental task (i.e., visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory or taste), the brain identifies the patterns to successfully navigate those tasks, and eventually, reactions become automatic.
The brain is like a muscle – science shows that in order to remain in top performance, the brain, just like any other muscle, must be exercised. Brain teasers like puzzles and crosswords serve as “workouts” for the brain and keep it healthy. Within the learning environment, the brain is rigorously worked during homework and study sessions. Here at Knowledge Factor, we’re focused on uncovering tools that can be used during a user’s “brain workouts” in order to enhance brain function and the ability to transfer material studied into long-term memory.
Where do you think you’d be most likely to hear the following quotes?
“Enjoy the little things”
“Pay attention to your environment throughout your day”
“Stay engaged in the world around you”
What did you guess? A self-help book? Chicken Soup for the Soul? Oprah?
Here’s the correct answer, and the answer you probably wouldn’t have guessed: brain scientist, Michael M. Merzenich.
The New Viewpoint
We’ve all heard phrases like “I’m a visual learner, I need to see it in order to get the big picture,” or “Oh, I’m an auditory learner, you have to explain it to me first.” This long-standing educational philosophy regarding different learning styles (visual, auditory and kinesthetic) is being debunked in a report by Harold Pashler, Mark McDaniel, Doug Rohrer and Robert Bjork (our Scientific Advisory Board Chair) called “Learning Styles: Concepts and Evidence”.
Online learning is becoming more ubiquitous in today’s increasingly tech-savvy society. As this platform becomes more sophisticated and more tailored to the user’s needs, different applications for a virtual learning environment have started to appear. Here are just a few ways that online learning is being used today.
According to a Newsweek article, “Can you build a better brain?”, there are proven activities that can enhance the brain’s cognitive capacity and, in turn, enhance intelligence. But it’s not as simple as eating blueberries or doing Sudoku.
In fact, it’s a lot of hard work (aka: if you want bigger biceps, you’ve got to pump some iron).
Scientists have long struggled to understand why working memory seems to be able to hold only a limited number of objects/ideas at once. In 1956, George Miller first came up with the “Magical Number Seven” experiments, which showed:
Knowledge retention is key in both corporate training and education. Users need to remember learning content so that they can accurately apply it in real-life instances. So when we set out to create the amplifire software, thoroughly understanding how the brain stores information in memory was imperative.
At its most basic level, there are four stages of memory critical to the learning process.
The conversation surrounding education reform is not a simple one.
One frequent talking point is the issue of class size. With education funding being cut around the country, class sizes are continuing to grow, but how big is too big? And how can we ensure that our students are getting enough attention from their teachers? Overcrowded classrooms have become a common problem in many public schools. So what is the solution?
Tests, quizzes and exams are not only instrumental in assessing how much our users know, but they can also be used as a study tool to help our users learn more and be able to recall their knowledge when it counts – on final exams and real-world settings. Recent research, dubbed the “testing effect”, shows that users who study using methods that require them to retrieve learning content from memory (using a test or self-quiz) exhibit higher recall rates on exams versus learners who rely solely on traditional study methods like repeated reading of the learning content.