According to scientists in an article in The New York Times, what we have broadly accepted as the best environment to improve learning has now been contradicted by their research findings.
Scientists recommend that “instead of sticking to one study location, simply alternating the room where a person studies improves retention. So does studying distinct but related skills or concepts in one sitting, rather than focusing intensely on a single thing.”
In a research paper, published in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest, psychologists found there is zero support for the notion that we have different learning styles, like visual, auditory, left-brain or right-brain.
When it comes to individual learning, psychologists suggest that limiting yourself to just a single study space is a bad idea because the more you vary your learning environment the more information you will retain.
Another study, posted by the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology found that varying the type of material you focus on during a single sitting also generates much better learning outcomes than if you just concentrate on one thing at a time.
Dr. Roediger and Jeffrey Karpicke, of Washington University, suggest that if you space study sessions further apart this will improve your ability to learn and help you retain more information in the long term. Taking tests, because of their generally high level of difficulty, also improves later recall. “The harder it is to remember something, the harder it is to later forget.”
Now, how can we use these cognitive techniques in our classrooms?