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15 Science-Backed Ways to Improve Learning Retention

15 Science-Backed Ways to Improve Learning Retention

By Reuben Yonatan

The process of learning is a key part of the human mind and determines how able we are to tackle life’s many challenges and problems. But without sufficient retention of everything the mind has taken in, much of what you has been learned will be lost. This is a critical aspect of the classroom, where students are learning a lot of new information every single day.

Use these are 15 tips, backed up by scientific evidence, to boost learning retention with your students.

Learn What Works for Your Students

Everyone’s mind is unique and responds in different ways to different methods of learning whether it’s kinesthetic, visual, auditory or tactile. Take into account your students’ strengths when creating a teaching plan, with the goal of maximizing retention in mind.

how to learn

Stay Goal-Oriented

Too many tasks leads to a cluttered mind, which doesn’t bode well for memory. Avoid this issue by keeping the classroom a goal-oriented place. Each task should have its own goal, and ensure students don’t move from one to another until the first one is done.

goal oriented

Repeat What You Have Taught

Up to 80 percent of what we learn disappears from our memory within the first few days. Find different ways to recap content after every lesson and re-visit the topics two or three days later as well.


Take a Multisensory Approach

While some respond strongly to learning through a single technique, others will benefit from a comprehensive approach. Combine various techniques including visual, kinetic, tactile and auditory to maximize the effectiveness of your teaching.


More: 3 Reasons to Use Multisensory Teaching Techniques

Use Flashcards

Condensing information into memorable flashcards is an ideal way to ensure it sticks in the brain. Evidence shows it boosts memory retention by up to 50 percent.


Encourage Note-Taking

Writing something important down takes time, which gives it a little longer to become etched in your memory for when you need it most.


More: 3 Reasons to Bring Digital Note Taking Into Your Classroom

Verbal Repetition

By saying things aloud repeatedly, your brain works to cement what’s been said into your memory more efficiently. Get your students to use their voices more to encourage retention.


Create Idea Associations

Often, the mind is better able to recall things by association. Link new concepts in the classroom to tangible objects, places or people.


Use Sense of Smell

Our sense of smell is known to be a strong memory-trigger. This function in the brain is directly linked to the hippocampus, the center of memory in the brain.


Make an Emotional Connection

Linking information to emotions is a powerful way to help students remember what something. Using this technique connects the concept to something they care about or that matters deeply to them.


Use Rhymes

Science has shown that rhyming words or sentences is far more memorable than using a plain sentence.


More: 15 Essential Poetry-Writing Apps for the Classroom 

Create a Mental Mansion

Known as a “memory palace,” creating a memory mansion requires students to imagine their mind as a vast space in which to store information. Have them imagine storing memories the same as they would the belongings in their house and bedroom.

memory mansion

Avoid Overloading

Evidence suggests that the optimum number of information “chunks” the human brain can hold in the short term is seven, Avoid overwhelming your students with information on a new topic all at once.

avoid overloading

Take Frequent Breaks

Shot, 10-minute breaks have been show to boost learning retention by up to 20 percent. Use Pandora to encourage students to get up and dance around or play a quick game as a class that requires movement.

take frequent breaks

Visuals Are Important

We remember more of what we see than what we hear or read, so use this to your advantage in the classroom. Teach new concepts and topics with imagery whenever possible.

visuals are important

Find more memory-boosting tactics in 15 Science-Backed Tips to Help You Succeed.

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