Episode 16 - For Parents Interested in Student Learning Part 1

This episode was funded by The Wellcome Trust.

Show Notes:

Today's episode is specifically for parents. Our goal was to take what we know about the science of learning and focus on how it can be used by you - parents - to help your children with their learning and performance on tests, exams, and other types of assessments. We hope that this episode will be applicable to parents of a range of students, regardless of age and specific subject(s) being studied.

You may be a parent of a child whose school is implementing effective strategies from cognitive psychology, or you may be interested in helping your child utilize these strategies at home even if they are not part of the school's regular practice. We talk about the strategies from both of these perspectives.

In this episode, we talk about the two most important study strategies: spaced practice and retrieval practice. These two strategies have the most evidence for their effectiveness, and are the most broadly applicable across a huge variety of different skills and subjects.

Spaced practice is the opposite of cramming. We tend to find that students often end up cramming for their tests. However, if your child spaces out their study episodes over time instead, they will be learning more for the long-term, rather than just forgetting most of the information soon after the test. 

You can help your child integrate informal spaced practice by asking them about something they mentioned a few weeks ago. This will help your child refresh the information in their memory rather than move on and forget it. That's where retrieval practice comes in. The idea behind this strategy is to bring information to mind from memory. Your child can do this in many ways - writing or sketching what they know from memory, teaching someone else the material, or even just telling you a story about what they are learning. This act of bringing the information to mind from memory - producing the information without their classroom materials in front of them - will actually increase their memory for the material.

If your children are a little more independent, you might try to help them plan out their own study schedules. And once they get to high school, you can point them to our podcast - our last two episodes (Episode 14 and Episode 15) were recorded specifcally for students.

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Episode 17 - For Parents Interested in Student Learning Part 2

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