Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Understanding Ebooks

Say, you’re Homer (the Greek one), and you’ve just put the finishing touches on your latest epic. You’re going to want a book. You’re going to want one so that you won’t have to worry about people mishearing your singing (because microphones haven’t been invented yet) or those pesky barbarians on the road to the next town mugging you and stealing your lyre. If you think about it, a book is a pretty nifty piece of technology. In fact, books are awesome enough to have been in use for something like 5000 years, and not only to still be in use in modern society, but to still be commonplace in it.

They're really expensive

They’re really expensive!

It is probably because books printed on paper have been so reliably awesome for so long that there has been so much controversy surrounding the expansion of reading platforms to include E-reading devices (Kindles or Nooks) and computers. Bibliophiles everywhere are collectively freaking out about the end of printed books, and as a result, a lot of ink has been spilled (Well, maybe not ink. Pixels, maybe? Bytes?) on research to determine how these new formats measure up to our classic, well-loved paperbacks. Read more…

Don’t Let It Go: How To Study For Finals Using Testing

May 2nd, 2014 5 comments

The clock signals the hour. Your palms are sweaty as your professor hands out your final exam. You take a deep breath and look down at the questions in front of you only to realize that you have no idea what the answer is to the first question. Has this ever happened to you? I know it’s happened to me more times than I care to admit. I’ve even had exams that I’ve spent hours studying for and found my brain completely blank when finally confronted with the exam. As a result, I’ve been on the search for the best study strategies to combat these final exam blues.

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Categories: Attention, Education, Memory Tags:

Tests Don’t Have to be Bad!

December 9th, 2013 3 comments

Most people don’t enjoy taking tests. Tests mean stress, late nights, and coffee – lots and lots of coffee.  However, not all tests have to be bad. What if, in fact, some tests were helpful?

Testing, when used as a study method, benefits later retention – a phenomenon known as the testing effect (Roediger & Karpicke, 2006). In other words, students who take tests, rather than simply rereading their notes, while studying tend to do better on their actual exams (Roediger & Karpicke, 2006).

So what does this mean? Instead of merely rereading your notes or textbook, try taking some practice tests. Look for tests that offer immediate feedback, as immediate feedback provides even greater benefits in terms of performance on later assessments (Roediger & Butler, 2013).  It doesn’t matter if you find a short answer or multiple-choice practice test; as long as you answer questions and receive feedback, you will be studying and absorbing the material more effectively than if you were just rereading (Smith & Karpicke, 2013). Search the textbook and its website. You’re bound to find something!  Read more…

Categories: Education, Memory Tags: ,

Why those who force you to take exams are not actually terrible people

December 6th, 2013 3 comments

It’s not exactly a secret: when presented with the choice, students overwhelmingly avoid testing and exams like the plague. It’s not something we all met up and agreed upon; but rather a fundamental truth that we feel in hearts, bodies, minds and souls: we would rather get gingivitis than study for and take an exam. I’m sure many professors can begrudgingly attest to this.

However, like children that don’t want to eat their vegetables, we students can’t deny the overwhelming research that has shown that testing is, in fact, one of the best approaches to boosting memory. Unlike children that don’t want to eat their vegetables, though, I will not make you sit at the dinner table until you agree that you love taking tests. I will, however, provide you with several reasons why you should learn to love them (or even just kind of tolerate them), extracted from recent findings by Dunlosky et al (2013).

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Categories: Education, Memory Tags: ,

If your text book looks like the offspring of a rainbow, YOU’RE DOING SOMETHING WRONG!

December 2nd, 2013 9 comments
Your friends at Sharpie want you to 'highlight what's right'!

Your friends at Sharpie want you to ‘highlight what’s right’!

All students love to highlight. It’s easy, requires little time, and feels manageable. Though this study method may feel productive, does it actually enhance learning?

In a recent review of the literature, Dunlosky et al. (2013) reference several studies that show the potential benefits but overall disadvantages of highlighting.

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Categories: Education Tags:

Studying for finals? Best study tip: RETRIEVAL

November 26th, 2013 6 comments

With finals week fast approaching, are you starting to think about how you are going to study for your exams?

Well, Karpicke and Grimaldi (2012) argues, in their article, “Retrieval-Based Learning: A perspective for enhancing meaningful learning”, that retrieval is the best way to learn, and hence prepare for exams.

What is retrieval? Retrieval is the concept of active recalling of existing memory. Therefore, a retrieval-based learning/studying would require one to actively recall information repeatedly after going through the material once, as opposed to just reading through the material multiple times.

Learning is usually thought to be information that is inquired, understood, and stored in our memory, and sometimes the idea of applying this knowledge with pre-existing knowledge. Retrieval is very rarely known to be the key process in understanding and promoting learning. Retrieval is known to be a tool for assessing knowledge and a medium to test how much learning has taken place.

Karpicke and Grimaldi use several studies to demonstrate that retrieval of knowledge is actually a better way to learn and retain information. Below are two of the many studies to demonstrate this hypothesis, explained in a way that might be similar to how many of us study.

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Categories: Education, Memory Tags: ,

Did They Pass or Did They Mass: A Context Perspective

November 25th, 2013 2 comments

Let’s go on a journey into the life of a student, shall we? It’s 11PM the evening before your final exam. You are reading over the material countless times, hoping that it will still be fresh in your mind at 9 AM the next morning. Thoughts may be running through your head, one of them being: I wish I had studied this material before this dreadful, crammed study session. Well, it turns out that your thoughts are on the right track! Memory research has suggested advantages for distributing the study of material across time, also known as the spacing effect. This effect suggests that one is better able to remember information when learning is spaced across multiple, separate sittings. On the other hand, material is not remembered as well when the learning is crammed into one sitting.  For example, you may have a list of vocabulary words to learn for next week. According to the spacing effect, you will better remember the words if you study for a half hour every other day than for an hour and a half the night before the test.

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ATTENTION: Tips for Finals Week!

November 23rd, 2013 6 comments

Finals week…both a blessing and a curse. First, you think: “YES! This semester is almost over!” But, then you realize final exams, papers, and projects are still ahead. Awesome. Right after loudness is usually when sleep starts to lose importance and studying takes over. Breaks include Dunkin, Cap’n Crunch at Dana, and funny cat videos. Your bed sees less and less of you as all-nighters and power naps become your routine. This may be a bit exaggerated, but we all know the truth: finals are crazy and exhausting. Climbing into bed is not just the solution for these problems—sleep will also help you remember what you studied! Unbelievable right? The Zzzquil commercials are not lying when they say “Sleep is a beautiful thing.” To prove it to you, I will explain an experiment by Payne et al. (2012) in which sleep benefits were found.

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Money helps ADHD students perform on task!

November 23rd, 2013 1 comment

More and more children are being diagnosed with Attention-deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) across the United States every year. ADHD symptoms include problems paying attention, staying focused, controlling impulses, and uncontrollable hyperactivity (NIMH). There is much debate about whether this increase in diagnosis is because of an increase in occurrence of ADHD, or an increased need to pathologize childhood behavior in order to medicate. With this influx of ADHD diagnoses across the country, there are more ADHD students in schools across the country that are having significant problems learning and attending to different information. So, it is important that cognitive researchers look at the ways that ADHD affects the cognition and learning process of students so that school lessons can be more effectively taught!

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Listen to Miley Cyrus then study or Study while listening to Miley Cyrus?

November 23rd, 2013 4 comments

           Forgetting, which is defined as an inability to remember something, occurs daily. We forget a variety of things such as where we parked our cars, what our old and new cellphone numbers are, who Paul Walker was, the color of our parents’ cars and when assignments are due. Forgetting is a common occurrence and we have invented numerous methods to help us remember important information. However, writing down information does not always help, especially in circumstances like interviews or exams where we have to rely on our memory. When you try to remember an event that is filed in your memory, and you can’t remember, it seems like it has disappeared or was never there to begin with. Despite this feeling, the information is stored in long-term memory, but at that time you cannot access it. Most students can relate to this experience, because sometime after an exam we immediately remember the answer to a certain question—sometimes just a second after submitting the examination paper. Instead of relying on written information, we can increase the probability of remembering stored material by engaging in challenging learning practices, such as self-quizzes.

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