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The smart way to study
Date:11/18/2008

y. The results of our study revealed a number of new facts that were not known, however," said Pashler, who heads the Attention and Perception Lab at UCSD. "First, the study used much longer time intervals than in prior research, and it turned out that effects were larger than those seen in earlier studies using much shorter time periods. Second, the results showed that there is an optimal value for the delay between the initial study and the final test, and that this optimal delay varies with the final retention interval: the longer the final retention interval, the longer the optimum delay between study and review."

The results suggest, Pashler said, the optimal amount of time over which learning should take place depends upon how long the information needs to be retained: "If you want to remember information for just a week, it is probably best if study sessions are spaced out over a day or two. On the other hand, if you want to remember information for a year, it is best for learning to be spaced out over about a month."

Extrapolating from the results, he added, "it seems plausible that whenever the goal is for someone to remember information over a lifetime, it is probably best for them to be re-exposed to it over a number of years."

"The results imply," said Pashler, "that instruction that packs a lot of learning into a short period is likely to be extremely inefficient, at least for remembering factual information."

In a general way, Pashler said, the results also support the use of software designed to provide spaced review, such as the open-source Mnemosyne Project.


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Contact: Inga Kiderra
ikiderra@ucsd.edu
858-822-0661
University of California - San Diego
Source:Eurekalert

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