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Science of Learning? Applying What Works

Updated: Jan 20, 2021

Our learning modules focus on helping you, the learner, learn the background knowledge you need to know. We do this by applying some of the best principles and techniques for learning combined with the basic premise that self-testing is one of the best tools for retention and long-term memory.

Here are number of the learning techniques and principles we incorporate into our learning modules:

1) As mentioned above, a focus on background knowledge is associated with improved understanding and increased performance. This does not mean our modules never reach so-called higher-order thinking, but these types of questions come later in each section, building on basics first.

2) Emphasis on retrieval practice, self-testing, and low stakes testing, to leverage the testing effect (testing effect indicates strong evidence for improved learning);

3) The use of spaced-practice and repetition. Our practice tests repeat important knowledge and concepts throughout a series of practices and our subscription method permits you to repeat a practice test multiple times;

4) Our practice tests use scaffolding to aid learning by providing hints, fill in the blanks (with a selection of choices), and multiple choice recognition questions on early practice tests in a series and then remove this support to require more recall later in the series. We also have a section of practice tests called Total Recall, in which one must answer a selection of questions entirely from memory without any hints.

5) Differentiation is built in naturally as students have various entry points within our learning modules. Our sections of practice tests begin from simple and proceed to more complex. Using our Study Guides you can search for the topics and the level of difficulty to enter at, search for areas of weakness to work on, or use Total Recall questions to challenge yourself.

6) All of our practice tests use knowledge of results, feedback, elaboration, and making connections to build knowledge and understanding. Practice tests withhold feedback until the end of the practice as this is associated with a stronger learning effect. However, our In a Flash section gives immediate feedback just like flashcard practice.

7) As mentioned earlier, our sections of practice tests advance from simple to more complex and build on previous knowledge. Our Making Connections feedback helps to connect the idea and concepts in one question to previous learned ideas and concepts.

8) Our learning modules apply principles of metacognition, the science of learning how to learn. Each practice test begins with a Pre-Think list of terms and concepts to be questioned in the upcoming practice. This prepares the mind for learning. As part of the feedback following many questions Reflective Questions are posed for you to think about, recall information, help you make connections, and prepare you for future learning.

9) Occasionally our practice tests encourage you to Think and Draw about a topic in order to leverage the connection between drawing and learning. Then during the feedback stage of learning you can compare your drawing to accurate information.

10) Our practice tests are designed to be completed online in ten or less minutes. Use your personal device, or a computer, and access at anytime and anywhere with an Internet connection. If you have even less time, then access the In a Flash section.

Our learning modules are not a panacea. Learning requires effort and our learning modules are no exception. But we do believe they are an effective tool to aid you, and improve your performance in your chosen subject(s). Try a few practice tests at our A Deeper Look section of our web site:

In future blog posts we will flesh out further some of the techniques and principles of learning identified in this post. Please return frequently to read the evidence and discover additional ways to use our modules.

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