Improving Memory and Recall

Scientists have identified several strategies whereby individuals can improve their memories, however. While these can be used effectively when adopting a content-only approach to teaching, they can also be incorporated in other ways. For example, faculty can recommend students use these outside of class in homework situations; this allows students to invest as much time as they can or care to in homework. When teaching for deeper learning, educators can organize their lessons in a manner that incorporates these.

  • Retrieval practice finds the learner actively recalling what they have learned. Student who test themselves on the material they are supposed to learn can recall more of the content than those who do not practice retrieving.
  • Spaced practice finds the learner engaged in retrieval practice over an extended period of time. Those educators who encourage students to begin studying for tests for weeks before it is given understand the importance of spaced practice.
  • Interleaved and variable practice finds learners studying spacing their retrieval practice session and engaged in spaced retrieval practice of other topics or subjects between successive sessions. Variable practice finds learner practicing retrieval in different settings and situations.