Unhappy Student

We know a large number of students are not reaching their full potential in our educational system. They are not being taught the proper learning techniques for improving educational outcomes.

Research shows that students are relying heavily on techniques that received a low utility assessment, as compared to effective techniques such as distributed practice, that rank high.

Research Shows Distributed Practice is an Effective Learning Technique

Knowing there is a need for improving the educational system’s process, learning scientists set forth to study and identify specific learning techniques that can aid teachers and students in reaching their goals. Among these techniques, Distributed Practice was considered a successful tool in helping students succeed.

Distributed practice is a learning technique where the practice is divided into various short sessions over an extended period of time. Instead of using this technique, it was found that students are relying heavily on what is considered the opposite, Massed Practice, sometimes called cramming. This technique includes less training sessions with longer time frames. The evidence is clear that Distributed Practice is superior, yet the students continue to use a less effective method of learning.

Also recognized was the concern that earlier grade students who do well in school because their learning is supervised, may not do well in high school or college when they are required to regulate their own learning without the means to do so effectively.

A System that’s Not Working

Students are not to blame, they, along with teachers, are simply not educated on the proper techniques they should be implementing. Unfortunately, until a change takes place in our educational system, students will continue to use ineffective techniques such as highlighting, summarizing, underlining, and cramming.

Promising Strategies for a Positive Change

John Dunlosky, one of the authors of this study, noted that: “Schools and parents spend a great deal of money on technology and programs to improve student achievement, even though evidence often isn’t available to firmly establish that they work. We wanted to take a comprehensive look at promising strategies now, in order to direct teachers, students and parents to the strategies that are effective, yet underused.”

In conclusion, schools do not seem to be equipped with the proper knowledge needed to aid their students in implementing effective learning techniques. This is an issue that needs to be addressed throughout our educational system. It should not be overlooked that students need to be directed away from ineffective learning techniques and taught effective techniques such as Distributed Practice. Proper techniques can yield substantial improvements in the classroom, on achievement tests, as well as projects assigned within the student’s future working career.


Source: Research Summary