On this page you will find six evidence-based strategies. This means that there are scientific studies that show that they really work. The material comes from The Learning Scientists, and their vision is to make scientific research on learning more accessible to students and teachers.
You will find links to more material and videos under each learning strategy.
– use specific examples to understand abstract ideas
In order to understand abstract theories and phenomena, concrete examples may be helpful. Collect concrete examples from your teachers, classmates or examples you find in your course books.
To understand the principle of supply and demand we can think about blueberries. A very dry summer will generate fewer berries. When more people want to buy blueberries than there are berries available – the price will go up.
• Ensure that the examples you learn are correct.
• You learn even better when creating your own examples.
– switch between ideas while you study
In order to better understand the content of what you’re studying, it is important not to linger on one topic too long. Instead, you should switch between sections and ideas while studying. The first read you cover section A, B and C but next time switch to B, C, A or C, A, B. Make connections and draw conclusions when switching between the sections.
• Don’t switch so often that you can’t understand each section.
• It is more difficult to switch between sections, but in this way, you’ll learn better.
– space out your studying over time
One strategy for efficient learning is to space out your studying over time instead of studying those hours in a row. Make time for studying shorter periods every day for examinations and tests. A calendar or a checklist can helpful when planning when, what and how you are going to study and when and how to take breaks.
How to do it:
Plan for short sessions where you summarize the contents of lessons and lectures. Remember to take a break between the lecture and the time you use for summarizing.
Plan to study and repeat important information that you’ve collected from previous lessons, lectures and other forms of tutoring. You will keep your knowledge up to date and fresh when you go back to what learnt yesterday, last week or last month.
• Try using different strategies while reviewing your notes and material from lessons and lectures. Test, break and review.
• It is alright if you forget information while studying. You need to forget to practice retrieving the information from your memory.
– combine words and visuals
Dual coding is a strategy where you are using words and visuals in order to learn. You will understand better when combining text and illustrations when reading course literature.
How to do it:
Go through the course material and compare the illustrations with the text.
Look at illustrations and summarize, in your own words, what they mean.
Try visualising the information you read by drawing illustrations of your own.
• Visualise the information in different ways, for example, as infographics, time-lines, cartoons, table or a diagram.
• Visualise your knowledge by drawing what you remember from what you’ve studied.
– practice bringing information to mind
Retrieval practice is a strategy where you practice bringing information to mind without using your course materials.
How to do it:
Write down or sketch everything you know without using your course materials. Be as thorough as possible. Then check your course materials for correctness and important points you missed.
Take as many practice tests as you can get hold on. Make your own practice test if you do not have ready-made tests. Then trade them with fellow students, who have made their own practice tests.
Make flashcards that make you practice recalling main ideas, and how things are related or different.
• Do not only recall words and definitions. Recall main ideas, and how things are related or different from one another.
– explain and describe ideas with many details
Elaboration is a strategy where you explain and describe ideas with many details.
How to do it:
Ask yourself questions while you are studying about how things work and why. Then find the answers in your course materials and discuss them with your fellow students.
Connect different ideas and explain how they work together. Reflect on ways ideas are similar or different.
Describe how ideas apply to your own experiences or memories.
• Check so that what you explain and describe is correct.
• Practice so you can describe major ideas without using your course materials.