Many children, adolescents, and college students who come to the ApaCenter for help with learning have difficulty remembering the things they study. For some, lots of repetition can be helpful. For others, information into context and making is meaningful is the most helpful. Typically, repetition can allow us to learn and memorize simple information such as dates, facts, and definitions; however, putting that information into a context and using it in a more complex manner can allow us to truly understand the information and be more likely to remember it over time.
Generally, the simplest type of learning is remembering the basic knowledge. For example, someone learning the Bill of Rights may memorize that the first amendment is the freedom of speech.
The next step is to understand the knowledge and give it meaning. In this step, the student may learn exactly what is meant by the term “freedom of speech.”
After the student understands the information, it is helpful for the student to apply this knowledge to everyday life. In this step, the student uses the information to address a new situation. For example, the student could find a news story and determine whether freedom of speech applies to that news story, and how. The student could also think of times when having freedom of speech affected his or her own life.
Next, the student can analyze the new information; that is, critically examining its components. He or she may wish to determine which types of speech should be protected by the first amendment.
Then, the student may evaluate this new knowledge, by critiquing it and comparing it with other information. For example, the student may consider whether he or she agrees with the principles outlined in the first amendment and whether he or she finds it to be more or less important than other amendments.
Finally, the student may benefit from creating a new idea, scenario, or project based on the new knowledge. For example, the student could develop an argument for whether freedom of speech should apply to all situations and which actions should be considered speech.
Many people stop studying new information once they feel they remember it in that moment; however, most people will benefit from putting that information into a context and bringing the new knowledge through these more complex levels of learning. This strategy of remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating with new knowledge can be applied to each subject area and can lead the student to feel more confident going into testing situations as well as more likely to remember that information over time.