There are various learning methods that I use as a student to better understand the materials or subjects that I am studying. These methods include summarization, re-reading, highlighting, keyword mnemonic, and memorizing the short passage of information that I read. Although I often use these methods to help me with the exams, I find that these methods only work with my short term memory. It is difficult to recall the materials on exam day if I only study one day before that. Studies have shown that the methods that I am using above “ […] were judged to be ineffective” (Roediger, 2013, p.2). I also try different learning methods. One of the learning methods that I use is distributing practice. So what I do is to study in small chunks of material in short time repeatedly over a period of time. This method is scientifically proven to be efficient and is “[…] known to be a powerful enhancement of learning” (Roediger, 2013, p.3). I find that this is the best method for me thus far. This essay evaluates the effectiveness of distributing practice as a learning tool, along with its challenges.

A study plan is paramount to my learning success. I find it easy to understand the materials if I organize and manage my study time well. For example, when I have four hours of free time, I use it to study for two hours, and then I take a break for two hours after that. Taking a break is important to allow the body to relax and boost performance. It does not only help to increase alertness but also allows “the brain to store new information into long-term memory,” said Maas (Greer, 2004). Maas added that “[our] alertness, energy, performance, thinking, productivity, creativity, safety, and health will be affected by how much [we] sleep” (Greer, 2004). I start using this method as early as four weeks before the final exams. This method is effective to maximize my learning experience and improve my memory retention.

Although distribution practice works best for me, I can not rely solely on this method. There is a time when I can’t split the time between studying all the subjects and finishing assignments. To tackle the situation, I often divide the subjects into two categories. The first category is the difficult one. I use distribution practice to study the difficult subjects, and I start studying them a month before the final exam. The second one is the easiest one. I don’t need to review them often. I often read them a day before final exam for one hour of study. This trick helps me in my hectic situation, and I can focus on what is more important.

I am a visual learner, and as a visual learner, I rely on visual aids such as using pictures, graph, and charts to illustrate and understand the concepts. Using visual aids along with distribution practice does enhance my learning process. However, using visual aids don’t always work when I study in crowded place. According to Davis Means, “[v]isual learners often have trouble working while having a dialogue, even if the dialogue directly pertains to the subject matter” (Means, 2005, Visual learners section, Para.1). I often feel distracted if I have conversations with friends or family while studying. To help mitigate the shortcomings of my learning style, I use auditory learning techniques such as highlighting, keyword mnemonic, re-reading and summarizing out loud what I just read. This method is effective for me and helps me to remember materials for a short term.

These two methods of learning that I use for studying significantly positively impact my success. Following these practices allows me to meet the goals I have set for improving my skills and memory.

References:

Greer, M. (2004, July). Strengthen your brain by resting it. Magazine article, 35(7). Retrieved from American Psychological Association Search database.

Means, D. (2005, March 14). Tips to apply for effective studying. Los Angeles Business Journal, 27(11), 34. Retrieved from GALE database

Roediger, H.L. (2013) Applying Cognitive Psychology to Education : Translational Educational Science. Journal of Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 14(1) 1-3, doi:

10.1177/1529100612454415.

Salt Lake Community College. (2013, January 18). Distributed Practice [Video file]. Retrieved from

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lvH6L0GSVF4.