Rethinking Study Habits: Mix It Up

Posted in teaching resources by Editor on September 9, 2010

Benedict Carey, “Forget What You Know about Good Study Habits,” The New York Times (6 September 2010) . . .

. . . In recent years, cognitive scientists have shown that a few simple techniques can reliably improve what matters most: how much a student learns from studying. The findings can help anyone, from a fourth grader doing long division to a retiree taking on a new language. But they directly contradict much of the common wisdom about good study habits, and they have not caught on. . . .

These findings extend . . . even to aesthetic intuitive learning. In an experiment published last month in the journal Psychology and Aging, researchers found that college students and adults of retirement age were better able to distinguish the painting styles of 12 unfamiliar artists after viewing mixed collections (assortments, including works from all 12) than after viewing a dozen works from one artist, all together, then moving on to the next painter. . . .

The full article is available here»

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The Psychology and Aging article referenced is even more interesting than the the NY Times piece might imply:

Nate Kornell, Alan D. Castel, Teal S. Eich, Robert A. Bjork, “Spacing as the Friend of Both Memory and Induction in Young and Older Adults,” Psychology and Aging 25 (2010): 498-503.

Abstract: We compared the effects of spaced versus massed practice on young and older adults’ ability to learn visually complex paintings. We expected a spacing advantage when 1 painting per artist was studied repeatedly and tested (repetition) but perhaps a massing advantage, especially for older adults, when multiple different paintings by each artist were studied and tested (induction). We were surprised to find that spacing facilitated both inductive and repetition learning by both young and older adults, even though the participants rated massing superior to spacing for inductive learning. Thus, challenging learners of any age appears to have unintuitive benefits for both memory and induction.

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