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Tip 78: Engage in spaced repetition

'Once heard, never forgotten! Really …?'

Most of our professional education system is still based on one-time events. Whereas using great didactics during these trainings and making sure participants have a memorable experience is important, there is still one problem: Once heard (in most cases) quickly forgotten. This means that you'll need to make sure to repeat what you have learned after the training to be able to recall it later.

A way to do this is called 'spaced repetition' which which was the result of research by Hermann Ebbinghaus and summarized in his so-called Forgetting Curve (see learning tip 64). In this learning tip, I want to give you some more insights how to fight the forgetting curve by active recall.

What can be easy ways to engage in spaced repetition?

  • Use good old paper flashcards as desribed in the Leitner system. Write the concept details on cards and put them into box 1 out of three boxes. If you look at the card and you feel confident about the content, move it in box 2. Once you feel confident with the contents of the flashcards in box 2, you can move them in box 3. Each box has a different repetition cycle. Box 1 every 2-3 days, box 2 every week and box 3 every 2 weeks. You can also experiment with the length of the cycles.

  • Use a software like Super Memo, Anki or Quizlet to test yourself.

  • Work with text markers when reading material and highlight the most important words. Flip through a chapter every week, focus on the highlighted words and try to remember in which context you have read them and what they mean.

  • If you are reading a book with summaries at the end of each chapter, mark the summary pages and flip through them regularly.

  • Take pictures of the most relevant concepts from a training so that you have them on your cell phone, and you can repeat them during your commute.

What have you recently learned and how are you going to engage in spaced repetition?


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