“I forgot. I think I have gone over this before, but I don’t quite remember.” As tutors, we hear this all the time. Without proper studying, students can forget the majority of what they have learned. Most of the material that is covered in class does not stay in the student’s memory until the final exam or even until the chapter test. Students can forget up to 60 percent of what they learn just an hour after learning it. So, how can tutors support their students in transferring knowledge to their long-term memory and ensure that they do not forget important information?
Helping students learn during the tutoring session
When learning new information, it is important that students are actively participating in their learning process. To effectively absorb new content, students need to pay close attention during the tutorial sessions, but sometimes this doesn’t happen as they drift off without even noticing. Try to expose your student to both visual and textual material as this has been proven to help with memory retention. Remember that before moving onto a new concept, students must be able to independently understand the previous concept without the aid of a tutor, friend, or teacher. Forgetting or not understanding content makes it difficult for the student to move forward onto new skills. For example, in math, students need to be comfortable with their multiplication tables before they can tackle more complex number operations.
Helping students practice during the tutoring session
Even if the student finds it easy to understand some of the concepts taught in class, it is still imperative that they practice these concepts. Often, students will try to get their homework done as soon as possible so they can move onto other things. This can cause serious gaps in a student’s knowledge of the class material. One of the best methods to ensure proper understanding and retention of material is to practice it repeatedly until it becomes second nature. This means doing a variety of practice questions and conducting many self-tests. When going through practice questions try to mix up the types of questions. Students will be able to remember questions better if they complete different types of questions, with varying difficulty, rather than completing a lot of similar questions in a row.
To ensure that the information is truly in a student’s long-term memory, it is important to revisit material even after they have fully understood it. Make sure to pay close attention to the information that students found trickier the first time around. Some students find it helpful to explain concepts out loud while others find it helpful to visually complete more practice questions. This review can take place anywhere from a day after learning the material to months into the term when preparing for a test or exam.
Many students want to get the information fast and move on, without realizing that learning does not take place by rushing to get homework done. True learning occurs when students take the time to apply what was taught in class, looking at it from different angles and tackling different types of questions. Although it will take more study time and homework, once information is transferred to their long-term memory it is there to stay!