What’s the best way to learn?
Everyone seems to have their own opinion on the best study technique or the most effective study methods for university students!
If you’re wondering what these two method of learning are and how they might help you smash your exams, then you’ve come to the right place!
In my helpful article, we’ll explore the differences between passive learning and active recall.
We can look into how they compare, some examples and discover what the science says!
Then you can decide which approach would work best for your learning style.
So read on and discover the power of actively recalling information and how it compares with a more backseat approach to learning.
This post is all about active recall vs passive learning.
ACTIVE RECALL VS. PASSIVE LEARNING
Let’s hit the brief first before we get into the details.
Active recall is considered to be the better way to learn new information due to its increased memory retention abilities. Passive learning techniques can provide a general overview of topics but does not lead to deeper understanding or critical thinking. Studies have demonstrated that students who tested themselves on material had significantly higher recall than those without any repetition activity.
So now you’ve got the ‘at a glance’ answer, so you can start to decide which are the best study methods for you, let’s find out a little about each type.
What is active recall?
So have you ever heard of active recall? It’s a technique that involves actively recalling information from memory.
The easiest way to think of it is that you are ‘actively’ retrieving information that has been previously learned.
In other words, it requires you to answer questions and recall facts from memory.
This method has been shown to significantly improve retention and recall of information as we will discover below!
So, how does it work? Essentially, active recall works when you quiz yourself on the material you’re trying to learn, whether it’s writing out answers to questions, taking online practice tests, using flashcards (digital flashcards) or verbally reciting the information.
This act of active retrieval of information from your short-term memory helps solidify it in your brain and transferring them to your long-term memory, making it easier to recall during tests and exams.
“Essentially, you quiz yourself on the material you’re trying to learn”roshel in a rush
What does passive learning mean?
Passive learning is when a student simply absorbs information without actively ‘engaging’ with it such as by revisiting the information in any way.
This type of learning is often done through lectures, readings, and audio-visual presentations, where the passive learners does not take an active role in questioning or analyzing the material.
Passive learning methods can also involve activities like watching videos that explain the topic, using diagrams and charts to visualize the learning material (mind map or concept maps),
highlighting sections of text while reading from textbooks, or summarizing what was learned after going through it once.
Passive learning method is not usually a key to any kind of deeper understanding or critical thinking, but it can be useful to get a general understanding of the subject.
While passive review has its drawbacks compared to active learning techniques, it can still be an effective way of getting a broad overview of topics and may even stimulate curiosity about exploring them further in further exploration.
“Passive learning is not usually a key to any kind of deeper understanding of critical thinking, but it can be useful to get a general understanding of the subject.”
ROSHEL IN A RUSH
Active recall or passive learning?
When it comes to learning, we often think of studying as poring over textbooks or memorizing facts – but there’s more than one way to study effectively.
Active recall and passive recall are two different approaches that can be used to help retain new information as we found out above!
Ultimately, the active recall method is generally considered to be the better way to learn new information.
By actively recalling information and practice testing yourself on it, you are reinforcing it in your mind through spaced repetition, which helps you remember it more easily.
Passive learning is an important part of the learning process too, as it provides a deeper understanding of the material and serves as an aid for active recall. However, passive learning alone isn’t enough to fully lock in knowledge in your brain.
At the end of the day, both active recall and passive learning are key components of effective studying habits and a student’s study routine.
Finding ways to combine the two can help you maximize your study time and truly commit new important piece of information to memory.
The main difference between active recalling and passive learning is that with active recall, the material you learn must be remembered.
This helps to strengthen your understanding of the subject matter and means it will stick in your memory for longer periods of time.
Passive learning, however, does not require any recollection or repetition of what has been learned.
Which is better: active recall or passive learning?
When it comes to which one is better, it really depends on your own learning style and preferences. However, there has been plenty of research on the subject which we will discover later!
Some people may find they work better with actively recalling information whereas others may prefer a more passive repetition approach.
Ultimately, the best way to learn depends on how well you can retain the information and how much effort you are willing to put into memorizing it.
It’s worth understanding that both active recall and passive learning have their own benefits and drawbacks.
Active recall requires more effort, but it helps you to remember the material for longer periods of time in general.
Whereas, passive learning is easier in the short term, but may not be as effective in terms of long-term retention.
So it works really well to find a balance between the two when studying or taking tests.
Ok so is one study method better than another according to actual science? Let’s find out.
Active recall- what does science say?
Remembering what you study is obviously a key driver for learning!
To make sure you are studying as smart as you can, Scientists are often trying to put different study techniques under the spotlight and measure success.
So it’s probably no surprise to learn that it helps to lock knowledge in your brain but along with other research, this 2011 study proved it with their results.
The students were given different instructions yet tasked with studying identical content.
The study demonstrated that those students who used some form of active recall when reviewing information remembered it more successfully.
So when revision calls, don’t forget there are effective revision techniques out there already tried and tested by scientists!
In another recent study, scientists examined students who read material one time versus those that reread the same content four times.
The results? Students who tested themselves – actively recalling facts and concepts – had significantly higher recall than their peers!
This demonstrates how testing ourselves just once can be better for retention than reading over something multiple times.
“The study demonstrated that students who used some form of active recall when reviewing information remembered it more successfully”
ROSHEL IN A RUSH
What do scientists think about passive learning?
Taking a page out of the old adage “practice makes perfect”, this study published in 2019 found that students who repeated information they learned were much more likely to remember it in the long run than those without any repetition activity.
To test this, five groups with different methods for studying were evaluated.
The three groups were a traditional lecture, an e-learning module and a small group working together.
They all received the same content but only those who engaged in some sort of repetition ended up scoring higher on knowledge retention tests weeks later.
So this study shows that cramming your studies before exams might not have the results you had hoped for as repetition really is key!
However, with the world moving ever more rapidly towards distance and online learning recent studies have shown that a more passive style of learning can still help improve your studies.
This paper proposes that students can safely gain knowledge from passive activities, such as observing forums from the sidelines.
I guess, to sum up, the science of passive learning is that a mix of learning styles can achieve the best results, as this study from Stanford University concluded.
“Mixtures of active and passive learning are a fundamental feature of real-world learning contexts.”
ROSHEL IN A RUSH
Active Recall Vs Passive Learning – to finish on
Active recall has been proven to be the best way to learn and retain knowledge, but it’s all about finding the right balance between memorisation and learning passively from lectures or online forums, for example.
Try using mnemonics, quiz yourself with practice questions or talk about topics out loud with other people.
While passive learning may help if you need a refresher or review, it doesn’t compare to actively studying the material in order to understand it long term. But both methods has their key points.
For more tips on active recall study methods and other study strategies, don’t forget to head over to my weekly blog updates for more ways to hit your education goals!
This post was all about active recall vs passive learning.
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