Practical Tips for Faculty

Below is a list of some effective ways to promote student learning in your classes. The fundamental idea behind most of these is that of Desirable Difficulties (Bjork, 1994) – more effortful initial learning results in stronger memory.

  • Review material at the beginning of each class meeting – or have your students review their notes and tell you what was covered earlier. Revisiting concepts from previous classes promotes spacing (distributed practice) and engages students. It also helps them transition into the class meeting and gives an opportunity for questions to arise.
  • Quiz your students. Short, low-stakes quizzes will improve retention on later exams and assessments. Regular quizzes will help students structure their time and study regularly. They will also give the students early feedback on their learning and give you feedback on your teaching. Although quizzes can take time away from lecturing or discussions, the evidence suggests that students retain more information overall.
  • Make exams cumulative. Encourage students to review the material regularly throughout the semester.
  • Ask students to summarize the material from the day at the end of the class meeting. A quick review of their notes will help them retain the material later.

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