New York Times article advises students, parents to “forget what you think you know” about ‘effective’ study strategies

The New York Times reports:

Student traits and teaching styles surely interact; so do personalities and at-home rules. The trouble is, no one can predict how.Yet there are effective approaches to learning, at least for those who are motivated. In recent years, cognitive scientists have shown that a few simple techniques can reliably improve what matters most: how much a student learns from studying.

The findings can help anyone, from a fourth grader doing long division to a retiree taking on a new language. But they directly contradict much of the common wisdom about good study habits, and they have not caught on.

Among the (perhaps counter-intuitive) study strategies the Times recommends, based on recent research:

  • Alternate study locations instead of remaining in one place
  • Study clusters or groups of related skills/concepts rather than focusing on a single topic at a time
  • Testing can be a tool for learning as well as simply for assessment
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