How strange is it that we can remember the alphabets that we had learnt when we were kindergarten kids; however, we have trouble remembering the names of people we met at a party last week. Do you also wonder about that?
At Vidyanext, we tried to get to the depth of this using memory science.
Human memory works like plants in your garden. If you don’t water the plants, they dry up and eventually die. Similarly, if something we know is not revisited, that information slowly decays and then vanishes from our memory.
An article on Wired.com talks about how in the late 1800s, a German scientist named Hermann Ebbinghaus who was intrigued by this behavior of human memory, made up lists of nonsense syllables and measured how long it took to forget and then relearn them. (Here is an example of the type of list he used: bes dek fel gup huf jeik mek meun pon daus dor gim ke4k be4p bCn hes.) Through rigorous experiments, Ebbinghaus practised and recited from memory 2.5 nonsense syllables a second, then rested for a bit and started again. Ebbinghaus trained this way for more than a year. Then, to show that the results he was getting weren’t an accident, he repeated the entire set of experiments three years later. Finally, in 1885, he published a monograph called “Memory: A Contribution to Experimental Psychology”. The book became the founding classic of a new discipline. Ebbinghaus discovered many law-like phenomena of the human brain. Among his original observations was an account of a strange phenomenon: the spacing effect.
Ebbinghaus showed that it’s possible to dramatically improve learning by correctly spacing practice sessions. The efficiency created by precise spacing are so large, and the improvement in performance so predictable, that from nearly the moment Ebbinghaus described the spacing effect, psychologists have been urging educators to use it to accelerate human progress.
At Vidyanext, we listened to the psychologists and exploited the benefits of the spacing effect by implementing the spaced repetition learning technique in the Vidyanext Learning System™. The technique incorporates increasing intervals of time between consecutive reviews of previously learned material to ensure it is entrenched in longer term memory. To know about spaced repetition in detail, you can read our blog post on The Power of Spaced Repetition.
If you are wondering, how exactly we leverage spaced repetition, here is an example of what we do:
Let’s say Karan, a boy studying in grade 4, just finished a chapter on “Introduction to Universe” on the Vidyanext Learn app. He thinks he knows the chapter completely, his parents however are sceptical. They believe that in less than a week he will pretty much forget everything.
The Vidyanext Learning System™ comes to the rescue and presents Karan with a summary of the notes on “Introduction to Universe” within 24 hours. Then, a quiz follows to check his understanding. The notes and the quiz keep repeating at spaced intervals that Karan reads and finishes religiously. When questioned by the parents, a week later Karan still remembers that Orion Nebula is exactly 1,344 light years away from us.
Karan’s parents are amazed and Karan is the new Spaced Genius.
This is not just the story of Karan, but of a number of students that follow the Vidyanext Learning System™ powered by the spaced repetition algorithm. Magic memory is no magic. It is just science put to use efficiently.
About the author:
Mohammad Najmuzzaman, Product Manager – Vidyanext Personalized Tuition