Spaced repetition in learning theory

Spaced repetition in learning theory


Like most students, you’ve probably crammed
the night before an exam. And after it, you probably did OK or maybe
you even did well, but did you remember any of what you learned after the exam? One evidence-based way to better remember
what you’ve learned is through Spaced Repetition, or spacing out your learning and practice
of new knowledge or skills. Although this might seem novel, this is hardly
a new concept; it was first described in 1885 by a German psychologist named Herman Ebbinghaus. Here’s how it works. Say you plot your retention, or how much you
remember of something, vs. time. Now you learn that something on day 0. Without reviewing it, the “forgetting curve”
will look like an exponentially decaying curve, which is kind of scary! If you review (or better yet actively retrieve)
the material at increasingly spaced intervals after learning it, then the forgetting curve
starts to flatten out and you’ll get a lot better longer-term retention. Now, the goal here is to review the material
at the right time. It turns out that the best time to revisit
information that you are trying to learn is right around the time you would naturally
forget it. Since forgetting typically follows this exponential
curve, the trick becomes timing your study sessions around it. Practically, this means having more widely
spaced intervals between study times for the material that you are more familiar with,
and shorter intervals between study sessions for material that you are less familiar with. While this strategy would be effective for
all fields of study, it is especially important for students in the medical field, who have
to retain key knowledge and skills in order to care for their patients. Kind of frighteningly, one study found that
without spaced repetition, after one year medical students forgot up to 33% of their
basic science knowledge, and after two years, more than 50%! But when students and residents applied spaced
repetition strategies in their studying, they significantly outperform their counterparts,
with some studies showing close to 40% greater learning efficiency. Knowing about spaced-repetition is one thing,
but what about applying it? Students—especially those in the health
and medical fields—have to remember hundreds or even thousands of “bits” of knowledge
and skills. Because of this, it would be incredibly hard
for them to keep track of when they should revisit each piece of information—especially
since each bit of information will follow its own learning curve. This is why researchers and software developers
are using computer algorithms to try to help students optimize their studying. These algorithms help you learn by sorting
information based on your responses to questions—so if you get a question wrong, they will automatically
prioritize that information for repetition over the information in questions you answered
correctly. In doing this, these algorithms can actually
reduce your overall study time by making sure the time you are spending studying for your
exams isn’t wasted on studying information that you can already reliably recall. One of the best parts of spaced repetition
is that it suggests that we can gain a lot by studying smarter, not necessarily longer. With just a little more organization or forethought
on your part, you can achieve a whole lot more. That said, spaced repetition means challenging
yourself to apply your learning right at the point where you’re starting to forget it,
and that can sometimes be kind of hard! So, just know that if a spaced repetition
regimen feels difficult, even frustrating, that can mean that it’s doing exactly what
it’s supposed to be doing. Okay one final point. In some fields (like health and medicine)
certain knowledge may change relatively quickly because of new discoveries, so it’s important
to know the right new information, rather than remembering the wrong old information
for a long time. That’s why you should make sure that the
tools you use to do the spacing are also designed to help you stay current. Alright time
to get studying.

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  1. I just started using this method while studying for board and it has been 2 weeks now and I really noticed the difference. Thanks for the video 😘

  2. I do scan all my words with my eyes , I only scan the text and repeat so instead of taking half an hour in reading 15 pages for example it takes 5 minutes.
    I re_scan every 50 pages ,I rescan and rescan ,at the end of 300_500 pages I can remember the words on the pages.
    it is very strange how I remember the shape of the words and the place of them but this comes only after rescanning for many many time .

  3. Thank you guys, great work.
    I want to ask: Is there a method to determine the space between intervals other than questions?
    like what does it it take the average person with an average memory to start forgetting a medical information? are there studies about that?
    or does it differ from one person to another?

  4. I downloaded Anki after watching this video and got a B in my Pharmacology test today using it!! Thanks a lot guys <33

  5. Great short video. However, I can't understand why this applies specifically to medical studies. Could someone give examples of where it does not apply?

  6. Hey man! 🙂 Nice vid 🙂 Could you pls tell what software you used for this video to make? That would be a big help, i appriciate your answer. Or anyone knows tha software here? cheers 🙂

  7. this is the key ingredient in all learning, including thrind palaces. mind palaces are not possible without spaced repetition.

  8. It is not Ebbinghaus 1885, but Wozniak 1985 who invented spaced repetition.
    You got it wrong by exactly 100 years.

  9. Lol wtf is this actually a technique ? I've been doing this ever since I've seen an exam for the first time . People just stop revising after studying once? my god.

  10. Im having a problem with repetition for Language learning. Because repetition is crucial for me but after a while words and sentences will become meaningless. How could i change this. If i listen something over and over again nothing comes to my mind everthing lose its meaning.

  11. Yeah but how often should we really check each topic? So after the first time checking it, do I check next day or next 3 days???

  12. Great video and really helpful for many students, I just have one note:

    1:42 I find it really strange how you want to be accurate with the information you're spreading, but fail to provide the name and year of the study you were referring to. I tried to find the study you referred to but couldn't find it.

  13. anybody know of a good general spacing? I am trying around with recall like this: Day 1 > Day 7 > Day 28 > day 60 – each time I learn a new concept, I distill that information in my own words, write id down on a flash card, and it "flows" through a simple organization stretch compartment folder, each new day the card shuffles down one, and on the day 1/7/28/60 I recall the cards in that day slot.
    But what I want to know is in terms of effectiveness for exact spacing…if there is something more accurate than this generic spacing that I came up with myself. Does anybody have any lit on this?

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