Resources for Educators

Teaching Tip

From the Teacher’s Aide Newsletter

2000 Spring

Knowledge Retention, part 3

  • Another idea to assure yourself that the students have retained the information is to have the students write you a letter 30 days after the class has ended. Have them tell you what they remember and what they have put into place that was learned in your class. Bob Pike says, “Training is a process not an event. It begins long before participants enter the classroom and does not end until we see results.”
  • Retention of learning is helped substantially if students make an action plan during class to be used upon graduation. Have times during class when students can reflect on the concepts they learned and how they will apply them. Have the students share with each other in small groups. Have the small groups share their best ideas with the class. All students are free to use whatever ideas or suggestions will benefit them and list those items in their action plan. 48 hours has proven to be a critical time to work on an idea. Encourage the students to do something toward the thought they wrote down in the next 48 hours even if it is just research.
  • Albert Mehrabian has shown that if people are exposed to an idea one time they retain less than 10% at the end of thirty days. If they are exposed to the same idea, with interval reinforcement, six times over thirty days, retention is greater than 90%. The two keys are that the information must be reviewed and there needs to be an interval between reviews. The amount of time between the last review and the next one, needs to become longer. Reviews can me done in a number of ways. A chart can be made to list the ideas. The concepts can be shared in small groups. Students can complete a short quiz, draw a picture, create a role play or any number of other methods to reinforce the ideas and subjects learned.
  • While you are teaching the subject, vary your teaching methods. In an earlier edition we explored the idea of Multiple Intelligences. Everyone learns differently. Keep that in mind when you design your curriculum and materials. If you can get students involved in the process of learning, they remember. At the end of each class ask them to tell you the 10 most important topics learned. A Jeopardy tournament at the end of class can be a great way to test the student’s knowledge and understanding.
  • The most important goal of teaching is that the student can apply the information once they leave the class. The key to that transfer of knowledge is the teaching method. Confucius said: “What I hear, I forget; what I see, I remember; what I do, I understand.” Everyone learns by doing. How do you know if your students learned the information even if they told you they did?