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Scientific basis for practising

Scientific research has added to our understanding of why questioning and practice may be advantageous for learning.

Questioning, applying knowledge in new situations, discussing it with others or expressing it in new forms all consolidate our learning through helping us to store it in different ways – making it easier to recall and apply it.

Our neural circuitry evolved to process information rather than just to store and retrieve it. If we want such storage and retrieval to happen effectively, we need to make sure we process the information deeply. Questioning, for example, is most often used by teachers to evaluate how much their students know, but it has another very important role in learning. Strong evidence from science and from education supports questioning as a means to improve the learning itself.

Having to recall material makes it more likely to be remembered on the final test than simply rereading the material (McDaniel and Roediger, 2007), and slows the rate of forgetting it in the longer term (Roediger and Karpicke, 2006). This appears to improve learning for a diverse range of topics, over a wide range of education levels and for many different age groups.

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This article is from the free online course:

The Science of Learning

National STEM Learning Centre

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