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Principles of effective learning

We now turn to a few empirical principles, derived from decades of research, that are known to improve learning. These principles willnot all apply to every learning situation; however, each of them has been sufficiently demonstrated through carefully controlled scientificstudies to merit mentioning them here.

The overarching goal here is to select processing strategies that will increase the likelihood of a learner recalling new information at alater point in time.

Activate prior knowledge

One of the most important cognitive principles for a teacher to keep in mind is the importance of relating information from long-termmemory to information newly entering the system. Recall our discussion of elaborative rehearsal earlier, in which I indicated thatmaking a connection to prior knowledge is a superior learning method to simply repeating information over and over without altering it.

Any good lesson-plan format begins the class with some form of prior-knowledge activation. It might be a reminder or a brief reviewof what was studied in the previous day's lesson, or it could be a question similar to, “Have you ever had a problem you couldn'tsolve?” The purpose of this phase of the lesson is to activate prior knowledge–i.e., bring long-term memories back into working memory–sothat new knowledge can be mingled with old with the result of more solid understanding of the new (and perhaps even the old) information.

Demonstration activity

Remember that having prior knowledge is not good enough; that knowledge needs to be activated in order to make use of it. Go to (External Link) and notice that you will identify previously seen words more quickly than “new” words(which you have prior knowledge of, but have not recently been activated).


This is one principle that applies to a rather restricted set of instructional situations, but it is so powerful that it deservesmention here. In contexts where there is a list of items to commit to memory, the task of memorizing the list will be much easier if theitems are grouped together (i.e., organized) in a meaningful way. This also works as a basic memory strategy in everyday life—thinkabout your latest visit to the grocery store and imagine remembering a rather random assortment of items versus grouping the dairy itemstogether, the produce items together, etc.

Deep processing

It is easy to become convinced that if a student spends, say, twenty hours reviewing for an exam, that student should be expected to excelon the exam. However, cognitive studies show that it is not specifically the time one spends studying that matters most; what one does during that time matters even more.

Consider, for example, the all-too-common exam-preparation strategy of using flash cards. Students often take terms from the textbook orclass discussions, write them down on flash cards, and then rehearse what is written down until the flash cards are memorized. Such astudent will walk into the exam confident that the material has been thoroughly mastered. The problem with this approach to studying isthat the student has only done “surface-level processing” of the material, rather than “deep” processing. It is surface-levelbecause the student has memorized terms and definitions rather than truly understanding the meaning and applications of those concepts.

Deep processing happens when one uses elaborative rehearsal to connect a concept to other concepts that are already known or are being learned. For example, one could write a summary of a concept inone's own words to check for comprehension. Another approach to facilitate deep processing is to think of examples of the newlylearned concept from one's own life. One could even make up fictitious examples of the concept if no examples come to mind fromone's past experience.

The point is, learning that comes from surface-level processing is not durable. One does not remember the content of flash cards for verylong after the exam. But spending the same amount of time (or even less time) meaningfully engaged with the to-be-learned ideas canresult in learning that could last for a lifetime.

Distributed practice

There is one final principle for effective learning that must be mentioned here. To be the most effective learner, one should“space” or “distribute” one's studying over a period of time. Attempting to cram a lot of learning into one or two concentratedstudy sessions rarely works. Research cannot prescribe the specific number or length of study sessions required to maximizelearning—there are too many variables to account for (e.g., one's prior knowledge of thetopic, one's knowledge of related topics, the quality of one's study strategies, etc.). But the benefits ofdistributing one's study sessions over a period of time are well documented in the research literature.

Questions & Answers

can someone help me with some logarithmic and exponential equations.
Jeffrey Reply
sure. what is your question?
okay, so you have 6 raised to the power of 2. what is that part of your answer
I don't understand what the A with approx sign and the boxed x mean
it think it's written 20/(X-6)^2 so it's 20 divided by X-6 squared
I'm not sure why it wrote it the other way
I got X =-6
ok. so take the square root of both sides, now you have plus or minus the square root of 20= x-6
oops. ignore that.
so you not have an equal sign anywhere in the original equation?
Commplementary angles
Idrissa Reply
im all ears I need to learn
right! what he said ⤴⤴⤴
what is a good calculator for all algebra; would a Casio fx 260 work with all algebra equations? please name the cheapest, thanks.
Kevin Reply
a perfect square v²+2v+_
Dearan Reply
kkk nice
Abdirahman Reply
algebra 2 Inequalities:If equation 2 = 0 it is an open set?
Kim Reply
or infinite solutions?
The answer is neither. The function, 2 = 0 cannot exist. Hence, the function is undefined.
Embra Reply
if |A| not equal to 0 and order of A is n prove that adj (adj A = |A|
Nancy Reply
rolling four fair dice and getting an even number an all four dice
ramon Reply
Kristine 2*2*2=8
Bridget Reply
Differences Between Laspeyres and Paasche Indices
Emedobi Reply
No. 7x -4y is simplified from 4x + (3y + 3x) -7y
Mary Reply
is it 3×y ?
Joan Reply
J, combine like terms 7x-4y
Bridget Reply
im not good at math so would this help me
Rachael Reply
I'm not good at math so would you help me
what is the problem that i will help you to self with?
how do you translate this in Algebraic Expressions
linda Reply
Need to simplify the expresin. 3/7 (x+y)-1/7 (x-1)=
Crystal Reply
. After 3 months on a diet, Lisa had lost 12% of her original weight. She lost 21 pounds. What was Lisa's original weight?
Chris Reply
what's the easiest and fastest way to the synthesize AgNP?
Damian Reply
types of nano material
abeetha Reply
I start with an easy one. carbon nanotubes woven into a long filament like a string
many many of nanotubes
what is the k.e before it land
what is the function of carbon nanotubes?
what is nanomaterials​ and their applications of sensors.
Ramkumar Reply
what is nano technology
Sravani Reply
what is system testing?
preparation of nanomaterial
Victor Reply
Yes, Nanotechnology has a very fast field of applications and their is always something new to do with it...
Himanshu Reply
good afternoon madam
what is system testing
what is the application of nanotechnology?
In this morden time nanotechnology used in many field . 1-Electronics-manufacturad IC ,RAM,MRAM,solar panel etc 2-Helth and Medical-Nanomedicine,Drug Dilivery for cancer treatment etc 3- Atomobile -MEMS, Coating on car etc. and may other field for details you can check at Google
anybody can imagine what will be happen after 100 years from now in nano tech world
after 100 year this will be not nanotechnology maybe this technology name will be change . maybe aftet 100 year . we work on electron lable practically about its properties and behaviour by the different instruments
name doesn't matter , whatever it will be change... I'm taking about effect on circumstances of the microscopic world
how hard could it be to apply nanotechnology against viral infections such HIV or Ebola?
silver nanoparticles could handle the job?
not now but maybe in future only AgNP maybe any other nanomaterials
can nanotechnology change the direction of the face of the world
Prasenjit Reply
At high concentrations (>0.01 M), the relation between absorptivity coefficient and absorbance is no longer linear. This is due to the electrostatic interactions between the quantum dots in close proximity. If the concentration of the solution is high, another effect that is seen is the scattering of light from the large number of quantum dots. This assumption only works at low concentrations of the analyte. Presence of stray light.
Ali Reply
the Beer law works very well for dilute solutions but fails for very high concentrations. why?
bamidele Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Oneonta epsy 275. OpenStax CNX. Jun 11, 2013 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11446/1.6
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