When it comes to studying for a test, some methods give you a better chance for success. On this episode of the Mind Matters Show, Dr. Craig Pohlman explains the difference between active and passive studying (and how a strategy called the “format shift” can help):
- Passive Studiers –simply go over the material and let it skim across their minds
- Active Studiers – engage with the information, such as by transforming it so it embeds into long term memory
This is where the format shift comes in. An active studier would take information they are studying and re-organize it. For example, they would take the content from a textbook paragraph and create a schematic diagram, pictorial diagram, or a compare/contrast table.
The key to the format shift is the process. The act of transforming the information from one format to another embeds the information much more deeply. The multiple formats are more compelling than a plain paragraph in a textbook, so this also makes studying more interesting!
The next time you have to study for a test, consider the format shift in order to get the most out of your study session.
The following is a guest post by Dr. Craig Pohlman, Director of Mind Matters at Southeast Psych. You can view the original post here.
These days, it seems like there are no limits to what our genius gadgets (like computers, iPhones, tablets, calculators, etc.) can do. So, is human memory even as important anymore? The short answer to this is yes.
Even with all of the tools to which we have access, we still need our own memory for a variety of academic and other tasks. Here’s a quick overview of the components of memory:
- Short term memory holds a small amount of incoming information for a limited period.
- Active working memory holds information in your mind while working with it at the same time, such as steps in a process.
- Long term memory stores and retrieves information over a long period.
Both active working memory and long term memory are used extensively in academic activities, including reading decoding, reading comprehension, spelling, written expression, math operations, and math reasoning. If you struggle with memory, there are plenty of strategies you can use to improve and to make these academic activities a little more manageable.
Last week, we presented tips for improving long term memory and before that, we listed ideas for boosting active working memory. Here is a list of resources you can use to get more information about improving long term memory:
- Sum Dog – This website, www.sumdog.com, offers free games to make math fact practice fun.
- Quizlet – This website, www.quizlet.com, offers tools to help you study anything. You can study words using flashcards, play games to learn and practice important course material, and test yourself to see if you are ready for success.
- “Thirty Days Has September: Cool Ways to Remember Stuff” – This book by Chris Stevens provides tips for memorizing across the curriculum. Specifically, this book is helpful for younger students.
- “Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge: The Book of Mnemonic Devices” – This book by Rod L. Evans presents tips for memorizing across topics and is appropriate for all ages.
- Math Fact Grid – Web resources, such as www.mathisfun.com, offer free printable math fact grids (for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division). These can be used to practice and reference important math facts.
Exercising your memory (just like you would exercise your muscles) will help to make it stronger over time. Visit www.sepmindmatters.com for more information.