Retrieval is so effective is that it strengthens the neural pathways associated with a given concept.
When you're attempting to recall an idea, method, or technique from memory, you're retrieving. Flash cards are a great example: They force you to recall an idea from memory, unlike a technique like highlighting where you're not burning anything into your brain.
... to what you already know.
When you try to put a new idea into your own words, you're elaborating.
For example, if you're in physics class and trying to understand heat transfer, try to tie the concept into your real-life experiences, say, by imagining how a warm cup of coffee disperses heat into your hands.
When you work on a variety of things at once, you're interleaving.
If you're trying to understand a subject — from the basics of economics to hitting a pitch — you're going to learn better if you mix up your examples.
When you try to give an answer before it's given to you, you're generating.
In an academic setting, you could work finding your own answers before class starts. In a professional setting, you could supply your own ideas when you're stuck before talking with your boss.
When you take a few moments to review what happened with a project or meeting, you're reflecting.
Reflective writing is super powerful. You might ask yourself a few questions: What went well? Where can you improve? What does it remind you of? Reflective writing to be super powerful.
When you're using an acronym or image to recall something, you're using a mnemonic.
Example: The hall of fame includes abbreviations — Roy G. Biv for the colors of the spectrum ( Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet) — and rhyming, like "in 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue."
Don't just re-read your notes. When you first read, you extract a lot of information, but when you do it the second time, you read with a sense of 'I know this, I know this.'
This gives you the illusion that you know the material very well, when in fact there are gaps.
When learning is difficult, you're doing your best learning, in the same way that lifting a weight at the limit of your capacity makes you stronger.
When you keep trying to remember a piece of information, you interrupt the forgetting process and help cement the memory of that information into your brain.
Retrieval is when you try to recall what you've learned. There are many ways to do this, some better than others.
Why it works: It strengthens your memory and interrupts forgetting. The act of retrieving information helps facilitate long-term recall.
How to apply it: Summarize the material in your own words. Don't copy and paste it; you won't get the learning benefits from it. Use your own memory, even if it feels hard.