Members in the Media
From: The Wall Street Journal

Want to Remember More? Make More Mistakes

Whether we are trying to master a new language or play a musical instrument, the pain of making mistakes is a big obstacle, especially early in the learning curve. But novices become experts only when we push ourselves to the edge of our abilities, and errors are both inevitable and essential for moving forward.

Curious about the power of tests as a learning tool, cognitive psychologists Henry “Roddy” Roediger and Jeff Karpicke had hundreds of students memorize excerpts from a test-preparation book for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). One group memorized these passages by rereading them about 14 times; another group read the passages several times and then completed three tests in which they had to recall as much of what they studied as possible. As Roediger and Karpicke reported in Psychological Science in 2006, the students who repeatedly studied the material initially performed better, but when these students were tested again a week later, the differences were stark. The students who repeatedly studied remembered around 40% of what they had learned, on average, while those who tested themselves recalled over 60%.

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