Professional Development Conference 2014: Teaching Students High-Performance Learning

This session shows how to teach students SRL techniques and improve retention.

1. Mental states: optimally, no stress while studying; a bit higher during tests. Deep breathing, counting to 10, and visualizing success all decrease stress. Sufficient sleep (9 hours) and naps (20 or 90 minutes) helps the brain consolidate new information. Better to study and sleep vs. continue to study.
2. Attention and sustained focus: increases with novelty, high contrast, interest, goals, positive emotions -> sell your material! Learners differ on focus (aility to block distractions). See test here.

3. Discourage multitasking: multitasking does n exist; the brain merely rotates between tasks, but performance drops. This is easy to verify: Have students recite sequences 1-10 and A-J separately then interwoven (1A2B…). The latter test takes much more time.

4. Discourage mobile device use: 90-92% of students use mobile devices thereby decreasing retention, performance, etc.

5. New information moves from sensory memory to working memory where it is consolidated by rehearsal to longterm memory. Distraction affects all stages of learning.

6. Distractions: interfere with attention, rehearsal, encoding, storage, retrieval – every learning process. Increases cognitive load, causes craving for novelty, Also negatively affects homework completion, even though students may not realise it.

7. Study Groups: Mixed results on effectiveness unless formally organized. Best managed by learning centre or similar.

8. Study Timing ad Spacing: best to meditate or exercise before studying.Light exercise while studying also works. Exercise for two hours maximum, break for physical exercise or sensory experience (e.g., eating). During study session, take very short breaks (30 sec- 2 minutes). White noise in background may help. Review after 24 hours and again several days to two weeks. Leave time for rest between study and the test.

9. Problem Solving: Best to interleave new and old material (acdbadcb..) rather than reviewing sequentially (aaabbbcccdddd).

10. Class notes: Tell students to take notes – in writing, not digitally.Write emotional reactions in margin for recall. Review after class (or in class as pat of SRL activity) and again before going to sleep and the next day. This requires students to compress maximum amount of information in minimal text.

11. Reading: Thumb through, preview at first.Read with with a purpose: points to look for answers, solutions to problems. Read/Recall/Review incorporates self-testing. R/R/R improves short and long-term recall and takes less time than note-taking. (McDaniel, Howard, Einstein 2009). It is vital to read with a purpose.

One suggestion: Have students do a “mind dump” of all info they retain, then give out those mind dumps at the final exam.

Students should note logical connectors (conjunction, disjunction, causal, comparison, contrast, emphasis, illustration). Review reading within 24 hours.

12. Highlighting/underlining works for skilled readers, not for others, doesn’t improve recall, impedes recall of intervening text.

13. Visual Study Tools: Helps students organize and integrate information better, reduces cognitive load, improves understanding and retention – since we are a visual species. Use multi-media.

Multi-modal repetition: Students learn best when they learn multiple times via multiple modalities. There are no such things as “learning styles.”

14. Student directed Test Prep: List areas if study and relative importance. Use Bloom’s taxonomy rather than “know” and “understand”.

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