The Study of Studying
August 1, 2011 1:24 PM   Subscribe

Studying Methods: Finals are coming up (in Germany) so i'm looking for an innovative and effective study/revision method thats backed up by science!

What resources are available to me in the study of studying and have there been any big breakthroughs in this area recently?
posted by freddymetz to Education (5 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
I've heard a lot of good things about Cal Newport's blog. Whether the suggestions are backed up by science, I don't know.
posted by dfriedman at 1:27 PM on August 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've been studying with Anki for two years and I credit a lot of my success in school to it. It's an intelligent notecard system that uses spaced repetition. Answer cards correctly a lot? Those get asked less frequently. Keep missing a card? That gets asked more frequently.

I create cards in class rather than actually take notes, so at the end of the semester I have between 300-1,000 cards for each class. I go through each deck once a day, and I trust Anki to know which cards I need to review.

The downside to this is that you really need to start making and reviewing cards on day 1. You could download the software and make a deck if you think that would be helpful to you now.

There's an iPhone app available for like $25 US, which I find incredibly helpful, but the desktop application is free.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 1:54 PM on August 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's some reseach I've read that suggests that revision is most useful when you take breaks at regular intervals and do something intensely physical. Example schedule:

Study for 10 minutes
Play basketball for 8 minutes
Study for 15 minutes, with some review from the first session, and some new info
Go for a run for 10 minutes
Study for 20 minutes, some review, some new
Jog up and down some stairs for 10 minutes

Etc. I can't find the links, but it's called "Space Learning" and the UK has tested it for kids studying for their A level exams. The theory is that your brain can only absorb a little bit of informaton at a time. By repeating the information, you're giving your brain time to collect then sort in those periods of physical activity.

Otherwise, spikelee's answer is a good one. I also like the system of study/reward/study/reward. Set a timer for how long you'll study (notecards work really well for this, BTW). At the end of the time, set the timer and do something fun - surf the net, watch part of a show, get something to eat, listen to music, etc. Continue that process, rewarding yourself with more breaks every time you have a string of right anwers.

There's another askme about distraction that has some really good suggestions.
posted by guster4lovers at 2:16 PM on August 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


No science behind it but it always worked for me. When I sat down with my outline of what I needed to study, I'd assigned a material value of what it would be worth to my future in terms of dollars I wanted to earn in the future. I usually set the bar in the millions or hundreds of thousands for the crappy stuff. This way I felt as if there was some goal outside of the grade value.

And, guess what- it actually paid off twenty years later.
posted by bkeene12 at 8:24 PM on August 1, 2011


From Less Wrong's Scientific Self-Help article:
Organize for clarity the information you want to learn, for example in an outline (Einstein & McDaniel 2004; Tigner 1999; McDaniel et al. 1996). Cramming doesn't work (Wong 2006). Set up a schedule for studying (Allgood et al. 2000). Test yourself on the material (Karpicke & Roediger 2003; Roediger & Karpicke 2006a; Roediger & Karpicke 2006b; Agarwal et al. 2008; Butler & Roediger 2008), and do so repeatedly, with 24 hours or more between study sessions (Rohrer & Taylor 2006; Seabrook et al 2005; Cepeda et al. 2006; Rohrer et al. 2005; Karpicke & Roediger 2007). Basically: use Anki.

To retain studied information more effectively, try acrostics (Hermann et al. 2002), the link method (Iaccino 1996; Worthen 1997); and the method of loci (Massen & Vaterrodt-Plunnecke 2006; Moe & De Beni 2004; Moe & De Beni 2005).
I use anki as well, as SpikeLee mentioned above (here is what I do). It's probably a bit late in the semester to start adding stuff to anki though (as SpikeLee mentioned), to get the full benefit of anki you need to be inputting data, and learning the material from day one.
posted by ollyollyoxenfree at 3:22 AM on August 2, 2011


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