Research on the science of memory and how to make it work for your child

So much of what is expected of children relies on memory. A student’s ability to reproduce what he or she has read is the secret to getting higher marks.

Many great psychologists have conducted studies on human memory as early in the 1800s. For example, the Forgetting Curve. This means that a very small percentage of people remember by repeatedly memorising information or mass presentation-what we commonly call “mugging”. There is evidence that everything we memorise is sure to erode over time. According to a German scientist named Hermann Ebbinghaus who discovered the Forgetting Curve, memory retention goes down by 40% in just 20 minutes, and within 9 hours-literally overnight, you will remember just 20% of what you studied the night before.

So what exactly are the ones who do remember, doing right?

Hermann Ebbinghaus made up a language comprising nonsense syllables so he could observe what made people remember longer. Some of the words he invented are: bes dek fel gup huf jeik mek meun pon. Ebbinghaus practiced and recited from memory, 2.5 nonsense syllables a second, then rested for a bit and started again. After a year of learning at this momentum, he took three years off, and then repeated the whole set of experiments.

The result was an unexpected but revolutionary discovery he called The Spacing Effect.
The results from testing the effect of correctly spacing revisions were so consistent that since its discovery, psychologists have been using it to accelerate human progress. This is hugely important in the case of students, who have very limited time, but what they have to achieve in that time keeps increasing. So every minute has to be wisely used.

The spacing technique is called Spaced Repetition, and it means that if repetition or revision of any subject is done at the correct time, in timed intervals, it will actually be more effective than repeatedly “cramming” or learning by rote.

“…with any considerable number of repetitions a suitable distribution of them over a space of time is decidedly more advantageous than the massing of them at a single time.” — Ebbinghaus, H. (1885). Über das Gedchtnis. Untersuchungen zur experimentellen Psychologie. Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot; the English edition is Ebbinghaus, H. (1913). Memory. A Contribution to Experimental Psychology. New York: Teachers College, Columbia University (Reprinted Bristol: Thoemmes Press, 1999). [free fulltext online]

What is the biggest advantage of Spaced Repetition?

Say a student has only six hours to study science. Within this subject, he or she has three sub-subjects-biology, chemistry and physics. This leaves just two hours per subject that have has to be utilized to study multiple chapters. Spaced repetition means that students can actually spend less time studying, and remember more. Leading to better results.
Another important finding is that of Active Recall, called the “testing effect” by psychologists. This refers to the need to test students’ recall.

“If you read a piece of text through twenty times, you will not learn it by heart so easily as if you read it ten times while attempting to recite from time to time and consulting the text when your memory fails.”
— Francis Bacon, 1620

Spaced Repetition and the Vidyanext Learning System™

The Vidyanext Learning System™ is built with important learnings from pedagogy, to offer a comprehensive learning solution for students. Today’s students are burdened with ever-increasing syllabi, more pressure and huge competition. The Vidyanext Learning System™ helps them manage time better, complete their commitments, and get better results using intelligent solutions.

The Spaced Repetition feature is one of them. It tracks what a student has studied, and then sends him or her, a reminder to revise the same concept according to the Spaced Repetition algorithm. When students revise in such a way, they maximise their time, making the most of every minute they have to study, because they are likely to retain everything for a long time.
The friendly robot and study assistant VBot sends out the “time to revise” messages, so that students enjoy using the Vidyanext Learning System™. If they commit to using this system every day, you will see that both the theory and its implementation works.