building strong memory 7
The power of review. In the chapter on “Forgetting: The Relentless Foe,” we promised to tell how H. F. Spitzer used the two control groups in his famous experiments on retention and forgetting. You probably remember that he had ten groups of students for his experiment. All ten groups read two articles. Groups I and II were tested on the material immediately, and their average score was considered 100% of the material learned. Then each group, III through VIII, was tested after a certain interval of time. Their forgetting curve is shown by the solid line in Figure 3. Groups IX and X, the control groups, were given three review tests, one immediately after reading the articles, one after seven days, and one after sixty-three days. Their rate of remembering shown by the dashed line in Figure 3, was far higher than that of the students who did no reviewing.
The amount remembered The amount remembered After this by students who did by students who number of days no review was reviewed was 7 33% 83%
63 14% 70%
The practical lesson to be learned from the Spitzer experiment should be clear. If you want to remember the facts and ideas gained from a lecture or a textbook chapter, it pays to review your notes immediately upon completion. Later, review again from time to time. If you use this technique, the amount you remember will follow the path of the retention curve (upper curve) in Figure 3. If, however, no review is done, the amount of forgetting will follow the lower curve. Why recitation works. Recitation is far more effective than merely reading for the following reasons. 1. Since you know that you will stop to recite after reading each headed section within a chapter, you will be more motivated to understand.
2. Recitation lets you know how you are doing. A correct recitation is an immediate reward that helps
keep motivation high. An incorrect recitation is punishment that motivates a student to avoid future
punishment by studying harder.
3. Recitation deepens or makes more indelible the original memory trace, because your mind must
actively think about the new material. Recitation is a form of immediate review.
4. The physical activity of thinking, pronouncing, and even hearing your own words involves not only
your mind but also your body in the process of learning. The more physical senses you use in
learning, the stronger the neural trace in your brain.