These Tips can Help Students Learn Faster and Retain More
Student achievement and accountability mandates through high stakes testing have caused educators to analyze teaching and learning strategies to better support young scholars. Examining and implementing the most successful strategies for students will enable to develop them into a productive 21st century worker. Teachers have had to analyze their instructional models and delivery systems to help improve and drive student achievement.
In 2001, the No Child Left Behind Law was passed to equate achievement and decrease the performance gap by providing more opportunities for all learners regardless of their ability. Teachers and students have studied and developed ways to help learners learn faster. This includes retraining the brain and forcing learning to occur in a variety of ways, making better classroom choices, improving organization & time management, and taking care of the physical body and emotional well-being.
1. Retrain the Brain
There are a variety of methods, tricks and enhancement tools available to boost working memory, otherwise known as brain training. Much like sports conditioning, which includes muscle memory efforts, boosting working memory works in a similar manner by building neural pathways. Engaging all parts of the brain during learning processes is key, and teaching kids techniques to help them increase their working memory will increase achievement and confidence. Identifying how a child learns best by examining their intelligence preference or learning style is an important key to student success.
Learning style preferences include visual, auditory, kinesthetic, or read and write modalities. By aligning the curriculum with these preferences, and varying instructional delivery, educators will create a fun learning environment that will reach and engage more pupils. Moreover, students who understand their learning style preference will feel more empowered in their own learning and will be more likely to be more accountable and successful in the classroom.
[I suggest also exploring these metacognition strategies – KW]
2. Better Choices = Increased Success
Young scholars also need to make better choices about their learning both at school and at home. Improved school choices may include sitting in the front of the classroom and removing distractions which may impede learning. Cell phones and computers may distract from the learning process in some students as well. Concentration techniques and putting those strategies into practice can lead to increased success.
Encouraging students to try to make a real-world connection to what is being taught in class is crucial as well. Students should also consider setting SMART goals to help specify and measure their progress more specifically. Research has shown that challenging and more specific goals improve student performance and students learn faster as a result.
3. Manage & Organize
Being organized is such an important part of being a successful learner. Keeping the learning space free from clutter, as well as personal spaces like school lockers, desks both at home and at school, and bedrooms has been shown by researchers to improve student achievement. Developing study plans and keeping to a schedule for both learning and leisure activities can help with this as well. Adding frequent breaks to the schedule with built-in incentives can enhance motivation and keep a student on-task.
Taking hand-written notes and learning to summarize and “chunk” information into more manageable parts will also enhance learning processes. Some of the best note taking apps have been shown to motivate students and develop these skills as well.
Lastly, students should try self-assessment strategies to ensure that learning is taking place. Finding strategies that work best for each individual learner is best. For example, “playing school,” by “teaching” someone or an imaginary group of students can help a student determine if learning is truly happening and is a great way to self-assess.
4. Eat, Sleep & Move
Learning cannot occur and neural connections cannot be made if the physical body is not working properly. The body needs to be a well-oiled machine, and therefore needs proper nutrition, plenty of sleep and exercise. Scientific evidence shows that regular exercise, sleep, and proper nutrition have cognitive benefits and a profound impact on brain development.
Not only has research shown an impact on the brain, but on mood, stress reduction and combined, one can improve memory retention rates and concentration efforts. Also, studies have shown that students who eat a healthy breakfast before school each day tend to be better problem-solvers, are more creative, have increased verbal fluency and better attendance rates.
5. Keep Emotions Healthy
Finally, all of these strategies will work together to enhance the learning processes, but only if the body, the mind and the spirit are working together cohesively. Emotional health is as important as physical health. Research has shown that students who are cognoscente of others, can make responsible decisions, and who have relationship skills, not only increases student test scores and attendance rates, but promotes prosocial behaviors, improves attitudes toward learning, and reduces depression and stress. Adding a component of journaling to the classroom can assist in doing this.
Educators have found that allowing students to write about their feelings, both positive and negative, will increase achievement. Having a space to show self-awareness about the positive aspects of student learning and a space to write down and “get rid of” the negative in the learning processes, significantly drives success. If a teacher can be involved in that process as well, and validate student thoughts, the success rate is even greater. Emotional disclosure increases working memory and has been scientifically proven to decrease anxiety. Adding a tech component can also drive student motivation. Blogging has become a popular means for expressing one’s thoughts. Not only has research shown that it can increase reading comprehension, but it also allows students a platform from which to be heard.
Both teachers and students have studied and developed ways to help learners learn faster. This includes retraining the brain and forcing learning to occur in a variety of ways, like making better classroom choices, improving organization & time management, as well as taking care of the physical body and emotional well-being of the learner. By utilizing these tips and strategies, educators can guide students to reach their full potential and become more confident, productive citizens.