• Question: how can teachers help students retain information to help them succeed in maths?

    Asked by rolaharb to Kathrin, Joe, Iroise, Ian, Emma, Daniel on 20 Apr 2015.
    • Photo: Iroise Dumontheil

      Iroise Dumontheil answered on 20 Apr 2015:

      Someone else asked about how best to space out learning for student to remember information, I think my answer to your question would be similar:

      I have been interested in spacing he learning of my students over their 2 year GCSE / A Level course. What do you

      These approaches are not really specific to a particular subject.

    • Photo: Joseph Devlin

      Joseph Devlin answered on 21 Apr 2015:

      Lots of practice doing math. Encourage good sleeping. Test them on their math skills.

      One of the fundamental truths in neuroscience is that “neurons that fire together, wire together” which (effectively) means that practice helps strengthen memory. The more they get experience practicing the relevant problem solving skills, the better they will eventually retain the information.

      Another factor that makes a surprisingly big difference is sleep. There are lots of studies showing that when you learn a new piece of information, you are more likely to remember it if you’ve had a chance to sleep in between learning it and testing it. These studies are tricky to run because there are so many factors to control but the best ones have a clear take home message: good sleep helps memory.

      Finally, there is solid evidence that testing people also helps them to learn. These don’t have to be tests that contribute to a child’s grade; they can just be short quizzes or mock tests where they are expected to perform as well as possible in preparation for the final evaluation. Questions that people get wrong help them to remember the material at a later time. If I remember correctly, it goes by the catchy name “the testing effect” (but having not slept well or been tested on this, I can’t be too sure!).

      I’m guessing all of these things are already in place in your school? Have you tried playing with any of them to see the effect on performance in your class? Just curious!