Do They Know How To Learn?

Why are some students not doing well in school? Mostly, the blame is put on the teacher and his or her teaching strategies and sometimes personality. The school administration and the government also get their shares. Yes, the teacher and school administration factors cannot be ignored but are we also looking at how students learn? What do teachers know about effective learning strategies? What learning strategies are students using for revision? Are teachers aware of the kind of learning strategies their students use? Or the students are left to themselves to use any style that comes to mind?

The common learning styles that some students use include reading the material over and over again. This style only means just pouring in with less activation of retrieval from memory. Some also claim to learn best at night or dawn when others are asleep and there is no disturbance so they stay up all night to read a material. The challenge with this is that you may be able to stay all night reading but you will find yourself sleeping in class the next day when your attention and all your learning faculties are needed in class. Others also claim they learn best when their classmates or someone else takes them through the material again or explains things to them again. The question here is, so without friends or classmates, learning cannot take place? There are those who claim they learn best while listening to music. The Visual learners are also around. These styles may help but does data from the learning science back these styles as strategies to enhance and maximize learning?

We are all familiar with our abilities to recall and talk about events with our friends or even merely bring to mind a nice experience. For such experience to be retained, it is not necessary to listen, see or read it over and over again. The more we activate the mind to retrieve such information from memory to talk about it, the more the memory dishes out more of that event which strengthens retention too. So it is with learning. After a learning experience, be it listening, watching a video or reading, one of the best ways to revise for long-term learning is through the learning strategy, retrieval practice. This is one of the evidence-based learning strategies. It is simply bringing to mind information received; in this case from a learning experience. It can easily be done by writing down as much as one can remember after a lesson or a learning experience. One can also practice such recall by talking about it. This is why students who get the opportunity to explain what they have learned to their classmates can retain a lot and for a long time.

But do teachers teach students effective ways to learn? Or does the teachers’ work end after teaching? No. Teachers should be able to equip themselves with the knowledge of learning strategies. Then be able to help their students with that which can be used in the classroom situation. Low-stakes assignments and quizzes can help with that. In order to link a previous lesson to what is about to be studied, teachers can make students write in freestyle anything they remember from the previous lesson. Through this, students have the opportunity to do retrieval practice. Students must be engaged in learning experiences that activate memory for durable and meaningful learning. Some class assessment exercises can be to have students write everything studied in the week in a designated book. By this, teachers should not restrict themselves to ‘what is’ and ‘ explain’ exercises. Teachers can also encourage pairwork and group discussions to promote retrieval practice. Such weekly assessments will help students to do retrieval practice. During revision week, teachers should have students do more retrieval practice than just taking them through the content over and over again and in a rush. From such practice in the classroom, teachers will be able to ascertain the needs of the students in preparation for the test.

Students should not be left alone in their effort to learn.

Nicholas Okota-Wilson


Passionate about leveraging technology to enhance living in society, Farosguide is an avid advocate for innovative solutions that bridge the gap between tech advancements and everyday life. With a keen interest in generative AI, IoT, and their applications in education,Farosguide aims to inspire and empower others to embrace the digital future. Through insightful writing and engaging content, Farosguide explores how cutting-edge technologies can transform our world, making it more efficient, connected, and enriched.

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