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CU-built software uses big data to battle forgetting with personalized content review
Date:1/22/2014

Computer software similar to that used by online retailers to recommend products to a shopper can help students remember the content they've studied, according to a new study by the University of Colorado Boulder.

The software, created by computer scientists at CU-Boulder's Institute for Cognitive Science, works by tapping a database of past student performance to suggest what material an individual student most needs to review.

For example, the software might know that a student who forgot one particular concept but remembered another three weeks after initially learning them is likely to need to review a third concept six weeks after it was taught. When a student who fits that profile uses the software, the computer can pull up the most useful review questions.

"If you have two students with similar study histories for specific material, and one student couldn't recall the answer, it's a reasonable predictor that the other student won't be able to either, especially when you take into consideration the different abilities of the two students," said CU-Boulder Professor Michael Mozer, senior author of the study published in the journal Psychological Science.

The process of combing "big data" for performance clues is similar to strategies used by e-commerce sites, Mozer said.

"They know what you browsed and didn't buy and what you browsed and bought," Mozer said. "They measure your similarity to other people and use purchases of similar people to predict what you might want to buy. If you substitute 'buying' with 'recalling,' it's the same thing."

The program is rooted in theories that psychologists have developed about the nature of forgetting. Researchers know that knowledgewhether of facts, concepts or skillsslips away without review, and that spacing the review out over time is crucial to obtaining robust and durable memories.

Still, it's uncommon for students to do the kind of exten
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Contact: Michael Mozer
303-517-2777
University of Colorado at Boulder
Source:Eurekalert

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