This time, Assistant Headteacher Yvonne Adshead’s blog is on the subject of revision.
As we return to school for the final term of this academic year, my thoughts naturally turn to the members of Years 11 and 13 for whom this will be their final term as members of the Simon Balle community. Hopefully most of you will have enjoyed a nice break over Easter, whilst for these two year groups and Year 10 they will have spent their time revising in preparation for their forthcoming examinations.
During March two colleagues and I attended a conference hosted by ResearchEd and Sandringham School where we considered the latest research on revision techniques. The research clearly shows that an individual’s study focus is significantly enhanced by doing the right thing, at the right time, and in the right manner, so I thought this would be an opportune time to share our learning from the conference with students and parents.
So what does the research say?
Firstly it suggests that some of the traditional study techniques such as highlighting, underlining, re-reading, the use of mnemonics and summarizing may be useful at the start of the revision process but will have limited impact on retention and recall of information unless they are followed by more practical strategies. What works is creating flashcards that do not contain too much information followed by regular low-stakes quizzing to promote retrieval of the information. The quizzes work best when they are spaced out and returned to over a few weeks rather than topics being blocked where the student moves from one topic to the next without returning to it. This interleaving of topics allows students time to forget knowledge and then gives them the opportunity to practice recalling the information. Students should then complete past papers and questions using mark schemes to check their learning as these will give instant feedback on their performance.
So what can parents do to encourage students to develop these learning techniques from a young age so that they are familiar with them when the time comes for them to embark on their examinations?
Parents when reading with or listening to their son or daughter read should encourage them to elaborate on concepts, for example by asking ‘why?’ questions, and encourage them to use self-explanation in order to further their understanding of a subject and improve their knowledge retention.
All that remains is for me to wish our students every success with their forthcoming examinations and I look forward to seeing them on the results days when I know they will receive the results that reflect their hard work, resilience and determination.