‘But...I don’t know how to revise.’
Sound familiar? Of course, it does. It’s a common phrase we hear from our students when it comes to exam preparation. It can also serve as a reminder that it is vital we consider not just the content of what we teach, but also how students learn the material. As Dr. John Dunlosky (2013) points out, teaching students how to study is just as important as teaching them the content. Exploring and demonstrating effective learning strategies with students is crucial if we are going to train them to move away from unhelpful practices like last-minute ‘cramming’ sessions, caffeine-fueled all-nighters and the highlighting of everything on a worksheet.
Unfortunately, there are no magic tricks I can teach pupils for retaining information for an exam (as much as I would love there to be). Learning is achieved through hard work and continuous, effortful practice. However, there are some very useful techniques and tips that I would encourage. For example, strengthening the retrieval capacity of our students is essential and if we manage to store information in our long-term memory, we can retrieve it again and again and again (Brown et al, 2014).