‘Free recall’ works better than studying

by on May 16, 2012 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: Rapid Learning Insights

Here’s one study technique that can help trainees improve their recall. Ask them to write down everything they remember about your last session.

It’s called free recall, and researchers say it’s one of the most effective ways to improve retention in the long-term. Most recently, researchers broke down college science students into four groups:

  • One group studied as usual
  • A second group conducted four consecutive study sessions.
  • A third group did “elaborative studying” – mapping out concepts while reviewing a text.
  • A fourth were asked to write down everything they remembered from the text in a “free recall” exercise.

Result: Free recall did twice as well as ordinary studying, about 20% better than repeated study, and about 25% better than elaborative studying.

There was only one area where the other three groups did better: self-confidence. All three groups predicted they’d do better on the final exam than they actually did.

The “free recallers,” by contrast, exceeded their own expectations.

Conclusion: Researchers say the “retrieval practice” of free recall was crucial to building memories, and helps keep self-appraisals of learning realistic.

Source: Karpicke, J., et al.,“Retrieval Practice Produces More Learning than Elaborative Studying.” Science 331, p. 772, February 2011.

Check out the Compliance & Management Rapid Learning Center FREE. Get instant access to a collection of 6- to 10-minute modules perfect for training supervisors and managers throughout your organization.

Click to View Comments

Leave a Reply


Request a Free Demo

We'd love to show you how this industry-leading training system can help you develop your team. Please fill out this quick form or give us a call at 877-792-2172 to schedule your one-on-one demo with a Rapid Learning Specialist.