I have just read a really interesting paper in Science1, which has a very good write-up in the New York Times (New York Times: "To Really Learn, Quit Studying and Take a Test" - link) on how to study.
I am not going to discuss the findings of the paper here, but instead, I will just mention the major findings of the work.
Basically, Karpicke and Janell1 looked at how students learn. They have used a scientific approach to look at this with some carefully designed experiments. The authors looked at:
- Just reading
- Repeat reading
- Reading and drawing a concept map whilst consulting the text
- Reading and then drawing a concept map from memory (no consulting the text)
- Reading and then writing what you have read (without consulting the original text)
The findings, put in simple terms (as judged by testing the students a week after carrying out the original exercise), was that method 4 and 5 produced the best results. That is, read the text, and then test yourself.
- Jeffrey D. Karpicke and Janell R. Blunt "Retrieval Practice Produces More Learning than Elaborative Studying with Concept Mapping" Science 1199327 Published online 20 January 2011 [DOI:10.1126/science.1199327] link