Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Four Reasons Students Forget Information

You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives. 
                                               ~Clay P. Bedford

They Did Not Use The Information
"I told them this, fifty times this year!"
Unfortunately, sheer repetition of a verbal-auditory stimulus does not allow the majority of students to transfer knowledge into long term memory.  In order to synthesize information completely, students must be able to associate the information to some purpose.  Purpose typically means a specific use.  Students must determine that the information has some meaningful purpose.  When the student can apply it to something useful to some real life situation, they are more apt to retain the information and transition it into long term memory. 

They Confuse It With Other Information 
Let's face it there is way too much information out there.  The glut of information that students deal with everyday is overwhelming.  There are bits of information that I have garnered over my fifty years that I will never forget and never confuse.  There are also concepts and ideas that no matter how many years I teach them I still need to look them up and review them each year before I share them wiht my students.  If, I confuse things after twenty-five years of teaching, I think that high school students after nine months of a subject could very easily confuse material.  Teaching students to distinguish differences, to understand patterns and sometimes using logic and common sense can help them avoid confusion. In the long run we all get confused once in a while.

They Decide That Information Conflicts With Their Previous Knowledge
We all do this.  We get comfortable with an idea and that is that.  Sometimes, this is the most difficult part of being a teachier or coach.  Overcoming, ideas, skills and patterns that have been taught either incorrectly or in a matter that will not allow students to progress. Let's face it.  Habits are hard to break, and bad habits are the worst.  Unfortunately for most of us, our students are not clean slates when they arrive and we must find ways to allow the students entrusted to our care to see value in all knowledge and to learn to evaluate information and see it's purpose. 

Never Really Learned The Information In The First Place 
Just because a student completed the assignment, or passed a quiz does not necessarily mean that they learned the material. In today's, fill me up, take a test, empty me out, method of learning, what are the markers that we can use to truly measure what a student has learned?  Versus, what a student simply has processed in order to complete the assignment, quiz or test for the purpose of the grade?  How often do we ask our students to demonstrate what they have learned in a way that is meaningful for them as learners and for us as educators? 

I hear and I forget.

I see and I remember.

I do and I understand.

                                           ~ Confucius ~

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