Flash Cards – Why?

The Flash Card Study Technique

Many students are told to make Flash Cards of their content to improve their learning. Some students use them while others do not. Let’s examine some important questions to see if you are making and using them effectively. As you will see, there are different ways to make them (some good, some poor but others …. just amazing) and HOW to use them once you have made them!

Questions

  • Why use them?
  • Do you just write statements on them OR do you make them questions?
  • Do you use ONE colour pen OR do you use multiple colours?
  • Do you use only text OR do you use text and images?
  • Do you use them at random OR do you have a structured system to make sure you memorise all of them efficiently?
  • Do you have them grouped together OR colour coded / topic based etc?
  • Do you review them by yourself OR do you review them in a group environment?

 

 

Answers

  • Why use them?

    Moat people think that only primary school kids use Flash Card, however, nothing can be further from the truth. They are used by High School students through to University students whostudy Medicine. The key is HOW they use them! In fact, current research as presented in a TIME article by Annie Murphy Paul  states that the traditional techniques so often used by students such as ‘reading over their notes‘ OR ‘highlighting text’ are actually far LESS effective than Flash cards and structured frequent revision schedules.

Therefore, Learning how to make GREAT flash cards and then HOW to Use Them are a great way to power your learning.

 

 

 

  • Do you just write statements on them OR do you make them questions?

    When you make your flash cards try to make them Question / Answer. Making them questions really gets your brain active in searching for the answer. They can be made specific rather than a general statement.

Eg’s

 

 

 

 

 

 

With questions you can also make them multi-modal. ie gets the person to DO something rather than just recite an answer.

Eg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Do you use ONE colour pen OR do you use multiple colours?   and  Do you use only text OR do you use text and images?

Try this:

  • Close your eyes
  • Think of a friend
  • Take a moment to absorb your experiences.

Open your eyes and answer these questions

  1. Did you see your friend in colour or BW?
  2. Did you see a picture of your friend or the text words Your Friend?

 

Most people learn best when they mix new learning material as pictures, words, doing, hearing etc so why not make your cards

COLOURFUL

VISUAL

ACTIVE

Eg

 

 

 

 

 

  • Do you use them at random OR do you have a structured system to make sure you memorise all of them efficiently?

Most students use their cards just before their test, however, this is NOT the best practice to making a great memory and learning. The connection between how much you remember and learn with how frequently you revise has been known since the late 1800’s. (https://www.gwern.net/Spaced-repetition)

This graph was developed to show the connection between revising your material frequently and how well you can remember material. This revision strategy is called ‘spaced repition’

As you can see, if you revise your material frequently, then your retention % remains high. I used this technique when I was at Uni (I discovered this by trial and error), BUT I found that when it cam to exams I…

  • Did not need to revise ‘the night before the exam’ as I was on top of all my content
  • I could recall information at anytime, anywhere as it was in my memory
  • I had a positive outlook with exams. I knew the information, so I knew I was going to do very well and therefore my positive approach to the exams reduced my anxiety (I loved exams becuase they reinforced how much I knew rather than show me how much I did not know.

 

So when using your flashcards, you need a structure system to constantly use them.

 

  • Do you have them grouped together OR colour coded / topic based etc?

Compare this picture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Organisation is the key here….

Having your cards organised..

  1. Allows you to find them fast and therefore revise with ease
  2. Keeps your brain organised (helps you compartmentalise your information)…. ie place content into specific areas in your mind and then it is easier to recall during exams

 

  • Do you review them by yourself OR do you review them in a group environment?

Quick Question... If you were to think about some important events in the last 5 years, what would you remember?

Answer: ….. Fun events and Sad events, the mundane tend to be forgotten

If we remember (naturally) Happy memories, why not create a study environment that is happy and creates moments that you can remember easily in the test.

You review your cards in a small group. Making answers fun, unusual etc can help promote you recalling the information when needed. You do need to be focused in the group and not get distracted.

 

I hope all this information is useful in making and using your flash cards. I will be making more posts that look into other study techniques mentioned in this post, so keep an eye out. If you have some great TIPs and TRICKS on how you make or use your cards, please comment and share.

Until next time, happy studying..

 

About Mr Carr

Science / Chemistry / Physics Teacher "ALWAYS strive to improve in ALL things!"

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