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Retelling lecture is more effective in learning, retention, study claims


Some students in a group discussion

*Experts want schools to adopt the methodology

Getting students to discuss lessons of the day rather than rereading or copying notes have proven to be very efficient way of learning, retaining knowledge and performing excellently during examinations according to a study published in the journal “Learning and Memory.”

Baylor University researcher and lead author of the study, Dr. Melanie Sekeres, while commenting on the analysis said telling someone else about what you have learned is an effective way for students to study instead of just re-reading the textbook or class notes.

He explained that when students are given information and are allowed to tell someone about it immediately, they recall the details better and longer, a strategy which could be a plus during examination or test.

“In the study, students were shown 24-second clips from 40 films over a period of about half an hour. The study focused on their retention of both the general plot as well as such details as sounds, colors, gestures, background details and other peripheral information that allow a person to re-experience an event in rich and vivid details.

“What we found in our study was that a week later, the memory was just as good. Telling someone else about what you have learnt is a really effective way for students to study instead of just rereading the textbook or class notes. While the strategy of re-telling information, known as ‘the testing effect’ has been shown to be a really effective study technique, time and again, this study is novel in looking at how our memories change over time for a specialised group,” she said.

The report further explained that researchers studied three groups of undergraduate students, each with 20 participants, who were on average 21 years old. After viewing the film clips, researchers asked what they remembered about the films after delays ranging from several minutes after the showings up to seven days later.

“We chose mostly foreign films and somewhat obscure clips that we thought most undergraduates would not have seen. The clips all contained brief scenes of normal, everyday events that mimicked the kind of events you might experience in a day, such as a family having dinner or kids playing at a park.
“Researchers found not surprisingly, all participants recalled less about both the details and the substance of the films over a longer gap of time. But they forgot the perceptual or peripheral details from the films more quickly, and to a greater degree, than the films’ central themes.

“Significantly, the second group of students, who were given cues before being asked to recall the films, did better at retrieving the faded memory of the peripheral details. However, their retention of central information was not much different from the first group, who did not have such cues.

“Most noteworthy was that the third group, which retrieved the memory of the films by telling someone about them soon after viewing, remembered both central and peripheral information better over time,” Sekeres said.

Commenting on the findings, a former lecturer at Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH), Dr Pat Akumabor, said the study is similar to students engaging in group discussions after lecture, which has proven to be very effectual in learning and retaining knowledge.

She advised schools to expose students to discussions after lecture as it has over the years helped learners improve on their studies.

According to her, “I did it when I was in the University of Lagos, I had a study group at the end of every lecture, we discussed the points raised by the lecturer while those that had better understanding bring additional information to beef up the lecture materials.

“We did that regularly and it helped a great deal during my examination. In the examination hall, you would recall voices at the discussion; reading your notebook a week after lecture is not an effective way of learning, but discussing it with your mates seems better and it worked for me. I agree with the study, schools should embrace the methodology.”

An education-marketing consultant, Mrs. Bimbo Obasuyi who affirmed the research findings noted that discussing lessons after verbal or visual lecture is one-sure of way of enhancing learning and retaining knowledge.

She said, “It is possible that a teacher would be teaching and the student is not even following, so to avoid misinterpretation, it must be guided and there must be a moderator. If knowledge is going to be passed across after a teacher’s lecture, there must be a way of checking that the knowledge that is passed around is exactly what the teacher said. Discussing lectures after classes brings back recall and helps learners to retain what they have been taught. Evidence abounds on the effectiveness of this style of learning.”

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