Episode 15 - How Students Can Use Interleaving, Elaboration, Dual Coding, and Concrete Examples

Show Notes:

Today's episode is specifically for students. It is the follow-up to our previous episode (Episode 14) for students. Our goal for this pair of episodes was to take what we know about the science of learning and focus on how it can be used by you - students - to improve how much you're learning and your performance on tests, exams, and other types of assessments. We hope that this episode will be applicable to a range of students, regardless of age and specific subject(s) being studied.

The two most important study strategies are spaced practice and retrieval practice. They have the most evidence for their effectiveness, and are the most broadly applicable across a huge variety of different skills and subjects. We focused Episode 14 on these two strategies, and we begin the current episode by reviewing them.

In this follow-up episode, we discuss 4 additional techniques that also have merit. Interleaving is a way of planning out your studying so that ideas and concepts are studied together and in different orders, rather than separately and/or always in the same order. This might allow you to learn how to use information more flexibly and discriminate between similar ideas. It is a technique that is particularly useful in subjects that involve problem solving, like maths and physics.

Elaboration involves adding details to our memories. We talk about how one way to do that might be to ask yourself how and why questions while you are studying. This can be difficult, especially when you are not very familiar with the material, so do make sure to check your explanations with your teacher.

Dual coding involves combining words and visuals to provide multiple ways for information to be understood and later remembered. It's important to note that this technique is useful not only if you like pictures, or feel that you have a visual learning style.

Finally, concrete examples are important to use when you are trying to learn an abstract idea. Because concrete information is easier to understand and remember, finding and generating concrete examples for the abstract ideas you are studying will help learn more. As with elaboration, make sure to check the accuracy of your concrete examples with your teacher.

You can find videos about these study strategies here.

The Learning Scientists Podcast is funded by The Wellcome Trust.


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Episode 16 - For Parents Interested in Student Learning Part 1

Episode 14 - How Students Can Use Spacing and Retrieval Practice