As the title of the article suggests, we have already devoted ourselves to this topic, both talking about effective techniques, both speaking of neuromites and ineffective techniques. We have also delved into customizations to facilitate learning in the presence of particular disorders (for example, dyslexia e working memory deficit).
More in detail, referring to one review by Dunlosky and colleagues[1], we had drawn up a list of 10 techniques pass the scrutiny of scientific research, some very effective and others not very useful, describing their strengths and weaknesses.
Today we want to update the speech previously started and we will review 6 techniques; some of these will be repeated compared to the previous article, others we will see for the first time. All of these techniques, according to a review of the literature on which we will rely by Weinstein and colleagues[2], they have one thing in common: they are all effective.

What are these techniques?


What's it about
It is a question of postponing the study phases and, above all, of reviewing rather than concentrating them in a single session (or a few close sessions). What has been observed is that, for the same amount of time spent on reviews, people who carry out these activities in sessions spaced out over time learn relatively more quickly, and the information remains more stable in memory.

Examples of how to apply it
It may be useful to create occasions dedicated to reviewing the topics covered in the previous weeks or months. However, this may appear difficult due to the limited time available, together with the need to cover the entire study program; however, the spacing of review sessions can be achieved without too much trouble for teachers if teachers take a few minutes in class to review information from previous lessons.
Another method could consist in delegating to the students the burden of organizing for the reviews distributed over time. Of course, this would work best with higher-level students (for example, upper secondary school). Since spacing requires advance planning, however, it is imperative that the teacher help students plan their study. For example, teachers might suggest that students schedule study sessions on days that alternate with those on which a particular subject is studied in the classroom (for example, schedule review sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays if the subject is taught at school. Monday and Wednesday).

Critical issues
A first criticality concerns the possible confusion between the spacing of the reviews and the simple extension of the study; in reality, the technique mainly provides that the review phases are deferred over time. While the positive effects are already known for the spacing of the review phases, the effects of the deferred study are not well known.
A second criticality is that students may not feel comfortable with distributed practice because it is perceived as more difficult than concentrated reviews in the same study phase. This perception, in a certain sense, corresponds to reality since, on the one hand, deferring the reviews over time makes the retrieval of information more difficult and, on the other hand, the intensive study practice apparently works (it is faster), above all. in circumstances where the study is aimed only at passing an exam. However, the usefulness of distributed practice must always be considered where it is important to keep information in memory for a long time.

Aspects that still need to be clarified
There is a lack of research that studies the effects of the distancing of the study of different information over time, trying to understand if what has been said for the time-spaced reviews also applies in this case.
Beyond the undoubted usefulness of distributed practice, it should be understood whether an intensive practice phase is also necessary or advisable.
It has never even been clarified what is the optimal interval between the phases of review and retrieval of information so that learning is maximized.


What's it about
This technique consists of tackling different ideas or types of problems in sequence, as opposed to the more common method of tackling versions of the same problem in a given study session. It has been tested numerous times with learning math and physics concepts.
It is hypothesized that the benefit of this technique lies in allowing students to acquire the ability to choose the right method for solving different types of problems rather than just learning the method itself and not when to apply it.
In reality, the 'interleaved' practice has also been successfully applied to other types of learning content, for example, in the artistic field it has allowed students to better learn to associate a certain work with its correct author.

Example of how to apply it
It can be applied in many ways. An example could be to mix problems involving the calculation of the volume of different solids (instead of doing many consecutive exercises with the same type of solid).

Critical issues
The research has focused on the alternation of interconnected exercises, therefore, it is necessary to be careful not to mix contents that are too different from each other (studies on this are lacking). Since it is easy for younger students to confuse this kind of unnecessary (and perhaps counterproductive) alternation with the more useful alternation of interrelated information, it may be better for younger students' teachers to create opportunities for 'interleaved practice'. 'in homework and quizzes.

Aspects that still need to be clarified
Does going back to previous topics repeatedly during the semester stop learning new information? How can old and new information alternate? How is the balance between old and new information determined?


What's it about
It is one of the most effective and also easiest techniques to apply. Simply, it is a question of recalling what has already been studied, both through a self-check and through formal checks. The very act of recalling information from memory helps to consolidate information. This practice works even if the information is recalled without verbalizing it. The effectiveness was also tested by comparing the results with students who, instead of recalling information from their memory, went to re-read the information previously studied (the practice of retrieving the memory proved to be superior in results!).

Example of how to apply it
A very simple way of applying can be to invite students to write down everything they remember about a particular subject studied.
Another simple way is to provide students with test questions to answer after they have studied something (both in progress and at the end of the study phase) or provide suggestions to recall information or ask them to create concept maps on the subject. based on the information they remember.

Critical issues
The effectiveness of the technique also depends to some extent on success in attempts to retrieve information from memory and, at the same time, the task must not be too simple to guarantee this success. If, for example, the student covers the information immediately after reading it and then repeats it, it is not a recall from long-term memory but a simple maintenance in working memory. Conversely, if the successes are extremely low it becomes unlikely that this practice will prove useful.
Also, if you have concept maps created to stabilize memories, it is important that this is done by heart because creating the maps by looking at study materials has proved less effective in consolidating information.
Finally, it is important to take into account the anxiety that the use of tests can cause; it was in fact highlighted that anxiety is able to reduce the memory benefits of this technique (not being able to totally eliminate the anxiety factor, a good compromise can be to ask questions that the student is likely to be able to answer).

Aspects that still need to be clarified
It remains to be clarified what the optimal level of difficulty of the test questions is.


What's it about
This technique consists in connecting new information to pre-existing knowledge. There are several interpretations regarding its functioning; sometimes we speak of deeper learning, other times of reorganization of information in memory.
In short, it consists in interacting with the student by asking questions about the topics studied, with the aim of leading him to explain the logical links between the information learned.
All this, in addition to favoring the memorization of concepts, involves an increase in the ability to extend what has been learned to other contexts.

Example of how to apply it
A first method of application can be simply to invite the student to deepen the coding of the information being studied by asking him questions such as "how?" or why?".
Another possibility is for students to apply this technique themselves, for example, simply by saying aloud what steps they need to take to solve an equation.

Critical issues
When using this technique it is important that students verify their answers with their materials or with the teacher; when the content generated through the processing query is poor, this can actually worsen learning.

Aspects that still need to be clarified
It would be useful for researchers to test the possibility of applying this technique already in the early stages of reading the concepts to be learned.
It remains to be seen whether students take advantage of self-generated questions or whether it is better for the follow-up questions to be asked by another person (for example, the teacher).
It is also not clear how much a student has to persevere in looking for an answer or what the right level of skills and knowledge acquired is to be able to benefit from this technique.
A final doubt concerns efficiency: handling this technique requires an increase in study times; is it sufficiently advantageous or is it more convenient to rely on other techniques, for example, the practice of (self) verifications?


What's it about
This technique does not require major introductions. It is a question of combining practical examples with theoretical explanations.
Effectiveness is not in question and is based on the fact that abstract concepts are harder to grasp than concrete ones.

Example of how to apply it
There is not much to understand about this technique; not surprisingly, the authors of the review from which we are taking this information[2] identify this technique as the most cited in teacher training books (i.e. in about 25% of cases).
However, it can be helpful to know that getting students to actively explain what two examples look like, and encouraging them to extract the key underlying information themselves can also help generalize the latter.
Furthermore, giving more examples of the same seems to increase the advantage of this technique.

Critical issues
It has been shown that explaining a concept and showing an inconsistent example tends to learn more about the practical (wrong!) Example. It is therefore necessary to pay close attention to the types of examples that are given in relation to the information we want to be learned; the examples must therefore be well related to the key content.
The probability with which an example will be used correctly, that is, to extrapolate a general abstract principle, is related to the degree of mastery of the student's topic. More experienced students will tend to move more easily to key concepts, less experienced students will tend to stay more on the surface.

Aspects that still need to be clarified
The optimal quantity of examples to favor the generalization of the concepts to be learned has yet to be defined.
Nor is it clear what the right balance is between the level of abstraction and the level of concreteness that an example should have (if too abstract, it is perhaps too difficult to understand; if too concrete, it may not be sufficiently useful to convey the concept that you want to teach).


What's it about
How many times have we heard “a picture is worth a thousand words”? This is the assumption on which this technique is based. More specifically, double-coding theory suggests that providing multiple representations of the same information improves learning and memory, and that information that more readily evokes additional representations (through automatic imagery processes) receives a similar benefit.

Example of how to apply it
The simplest example may be to provide a visual scheme of the information to be learned (such as the representation of the cell being described by a text). This technique can also be applied by having the student draw what he is studying.

Critical issues
As images are generally remembered better than words, it is important to ensure that such images provided to students are useful and relevant to the content they are expected to learn.
Care must be taken when choosing images alongside text as excessive visual details can sometimes become a distraction and hinder learning.
It is important to be clear that this technique does not go well with the theory of "learning styles" (which has instead proved to be wrong); it is not a question of letting the student choose the preferred learning modality (for example, visual o verbal) but to have the information pass through multiple channels at the same time (for example, visual e verbal, at the same time).

Aspects that still need to be clarified
Much remains to be understood about implementations for dual coding, and more research is needed to clarify how teachers can take advantage of the benefits of multiple representations and image superiority.


In the school environment, we have many opportunities to use the techniques just described and to combine them with each other. For example, distributed practice can be particularly powerful for learning when combined with the practice of self-tests (retrieval from memory). The additional benefits of distributed practice can be gained by engaging in self-testing repeatedly, for example, using testing to fill the gaps between rests.

Interleaved practice obviously involves a distribution of reviews (distributed practice) if students alternate old and new material. Concrete examples could be both verbal and visual, thus implementing double coding as well. In addition, processing strategies, concrete examples, and double coding all work best when used as part of the retrieval practice (self-tests).

However, it has not yet been established whether the benefits of combining these learning strategies are additive, multiplicative or, in some cases, incompatible. It is therefore necessary that future research better define each strategy (particularly critical for processing and double coding), identify best practices for application at school, clarify the boundary conditions of each strategy and delve into the interactions between the six. strategies we have discussed here.



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