Understanding how we learn

The Science of Learning

In recent years, there has been lots of research around the science of learning and how we learn and retain information.

In summary, what do we know about memory?

  • Forgetting is completely natural. Research has shown that over time you forget a majority of what you’ve learnt and it happens immediately.
  • Information, if not revisited, is ‘lost’ from our memory.
  • Consistent practice and revisiting previous material strengthens memory and boosts learning.
  • Our working memory is finite and limited and so overloading this or cramming for revision doesn’t work.

Essentially, with memory, it’s use it or lose it!

  • We know examinations place huge cognitive demands on pupils and require the retrieval of large bodies of knowledge from long-term memory.
  • But, according to the cognitive psychologist, Dan Willingham, more progress has been made in our understanding of cognitive science in the last five years than in the previous two and half thousand years.
  • That means, after lots of research, we now have an evidence-informed understanding of the most effective revision strategies. These strategies will strengthen memory and improve retrieval (very helpful in exams).

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