To Really Learn, Quit Studying and Take a Test [New York Times]Taking a test is not just a passive mechanism for assessing how much people know, according to new research. It actually helps people learn, and it works better than a number of other studying techniques....One of those methods — repeatedly studying the material — is familiar to legions of students who cram before exams. The other — having students draw detailed diagrams documenting what they are learning — is prized by many teachers because it forces students to make connections among facts.
These other methods not only are popular, the researchers reported; they also seem to give students the illusion that they know material better than they do....Dr. Kornell said that “even though in the short term it may seem like a waste of time,” retrieval practice appears to “make things stick in a way that may not be used in the classroom.
“It’s going to last for the rest of their schooling, and potentially for the rest of their lives.”
Long live rote memorization, long live testing!
The Korean emphasized the portion above because of its striking resonance with a point made in Waiting for Superman: Although American students are close to the bottom among industrialized countries in PISA test exams, they led the whole world in the self-assessment of their exam performance. In other words, American students did not really know anything, but thought they knew everything. This is what happens when education focuses too much on self-esteem and too little on actually learning something.
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