When we take up to learning something new, our biggest fear is always whether we will remember what we learnt quickly enough. Learning retention is what enables us store in long-term memory what we have learnt and it often is a very hard skill to muster.
Below, we look at some scientifically proven ways to improve how to retain new information for better long-term memory.
Chunk down information
Psychologists call this chunking, which is breaking down information into smaller bite-sized information. Breaking down the information or skill into small chunks and then mustering it a chunk at a time is effective. This is because, the small parts are easier for your brain to absorb and retain and as you absorb more of the same, it soon builds up to the whole part.
As mentioned, whenever we learn something new, the brain often stores it in the short-term memory. This might seem like a bad thing for the brain, but it actually serves a purpose. The brain stores new information in short-term memory to avoid information overload in the long-term memory. Imagine storing every little detail into long-term memory? It would create confusion in your brain. Thus, short-term memory is the default for the brain.
However, to teach the brain that the new skill you are learning is important, repetition is necessary. And not just repetition over one sitting or over a few days, but repetition spread over time. So, for example, when learning a guitar, 1 hour lessons daily are more effective in retention than five-six hour lessons only one day or two days a week. This spread out of the learning process lets the brain process what it knows while the repetition makes it understand that the skill is crucial and thus, needs to be stored in the long-term memory.
We are social beings and it is not a surprise that we learn and improve on new skills better when we learn with others. Cooperative learning is when you interact with other people to reinforce the acquired concepts and skills. For example, when learning the guitar, interacting with other guitar students and instructors can help you learn faster than simply locking yourself away and practicing by yourself.
Deliberate practice is the purposeful performing of an activity with immediate feedback on the outcome. Deliberate practice means that you put in effort into slowing down the process and taking the time to actually understand the process.
This is different from mindlessly doing something over and over, which in no way helps improve your skill. So, for example, going to our guitar skill, deliberate practice playing the guitar is playing it under an instructor, who corrects you right from the beginning as you grow. This is a better way of learning to play the guitar than simply taking random songs and trying to recreate them based on a few videos on YouTube.
Learning something new takes time and retention needs repetition. So, I hope the above tips (and many more) help you learn more and learn better.
And if you are looking to learn something new, check this out.