Forgetting Is Natural, But Learning How To Learn Can Slow It Down

Photo by Christopher Gannon

Student studies on lawn at Iowa State campus

After reviewing more than 100 years of research on learning, Iowa State Psychology Professor Shana Carpenter and her colleagues have found combining two strategies — spacing and retrieval practice — is key to success. Spacing as a strategy is learning in small doses over time. It’s the opposite of cramming the night before an exam. Retrieval practice involves recalling what was learned previously like flash cards, practice tests, or open-ended writing prompts — it helps learners recognize what they do and don’t know.

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