Help me deal with previously learned material.
May 23, 2010 5:30 PM   Subscribe

Help me deal with previously learned material. (More Inside)

I noticed a weird problem that I have when confronted with learned material that I haven't used in a while. After acquiring a new conceptual schema, I use it several times and it seems like I have firmly grasped it. Yet, after I stop using it for a while, a few weeks or a few months, recalling it becomes a strenuous process. Strenuous because as I reconstruct the schema, some things fall into the right place and other things I am very unsure about.

I am looking for suggestions on how to make sure that knowledge acquired at one point can be recovered some time later. What is a good way to guide yourself to remember concepts that you've left behind a while ago? (This is tricky terrain since familiarity and previous experience with the material make you feel like you do already know, even while you are uncertain.)
posted by gregb1007 to Education (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I write cheat sheets for my future self once I've figured something out, especially if the something either a) took me a long time and/or a lot of effort to understand or b) something I know I won't use regularly. Depending on the topic, my cheat sheet might be something simple like documenting what triggered my 'a-ha, I finally get this" moment or more extensive how-to-do-this instructions (with diagrams even!). Then I file the cheat sheet away in a directory (mine is named "Bet you forgot this") with a detailed file name so they can be easily found again.
posted by jamaro at 5:43 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: That's exactly what spaced repetition software is for.

For more detailed stuff that can't be broken down into something flash-cardy, I write up cheat sheets like jamaro describes. You can review notes of stuff on a spaced repetition schedule too, though. I do that for nonfiction books I've read; I don't want to drill the info in flashcard style, but I do like to review the concepts and ideas on a spaced repetition schedule.
posted by Nattie at 5:48 PM on May 23, 2010

A recent Ask question (which I found interesting but cannot find now) had many suggestions for Anki as excellent software for free repetition.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:26 AM on May 24, 2010

Supermemo and it's derivatives is software based on spaced repetition.
posted by filmgeek at 5:35 AM on May 24, 2010

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