Strategies That Make Learning Last

Daniel T. Willingham

Students typically rely on four study strategies that don’t work. Here are four that do.

Research-based practices: The term has been reiterated so often that it’s become nearly meaningless. In an effort to reinvigorate it, I’ll offer two ways educators can effectively apply research to practice.

The first is through testing specific classroom procedures and materials. Typically, teachers can tell whether something is working in their classrooms, but that outcome may be idiosyncratic and depend on such factors as the particular students they have that year.

The second way is by illuminating fundamental principles of how students think and learn. Every teacher has a theory of how children learn; the theory may be unstated, but every teacher takes actions (or refrains from taking them) in the belief that doing so will help kids learn better. If researchers could offer principles of memory that are relatively universal across students, materials, and contexts, now thatwould help educators. The fact is, we want students to learn efficiently when we ask them to study on their own.


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