make it stick – The Science of Successful Learning
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Chapter 2 — To Learn, Retrieve


Practice at retrieving knowledge or skill from memory is a potent tool for learning and retention. Simply including one test (retrieval practice) in a class yields a large Neurosurgeon Mike Ebersold got called into the emergency room one afternoon to examine a hunter who’d been found in a cornfield with a bullet wound to the head. What Mike did next illustrates how his habits of reflection and retrieval practice enabled him to anticipate the nature of the injury and devise the solution that saved the hunter’s life. improvement in final-exam scores, and gains increase as the frequency of practice increases. After an initial test, delaying subsequent retrieval practice is more potent for reinforcing retention than closely-spaced practice, because delayed retrieval requires more effort. Spaced retrieval produces knowledge that can be retrieved more readily, in more varied settings, and applied to a wider variety of problems. Testing doesn’t need to be instructor-initiated: think flashcards, for example.


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