A Mistake Over 50% of People Make When Learning.

We live in an age where information is more readily available than ever before. What once took hours of research to discover, can now be found by declaring a simple question to the voice command of a smart phone. Despite these advancements, there are still improvements to be made when it comes to retaining the information we view.

Common Practice

Jeffrey D. Karpicke, PhD, is an awarded professor who specializes in cognitive science and education at Purdue University. His experiments and research are based around discovering the most effective ways for a learner to retrieve the data that they have learned from their memory. In a recent study conducted by Karpicke, it was found that over 50% of students used “Rereading” as their first choice of studying strategy. This strategy was chosen over 40% more than the runner up. This number becomes alarming when paired with the results derived from Karpicke’s recent experiment.

The Experiment

In order to understand more about the learning process, Karpicke conducted an experiment involving different groups of students. All students were instructed to memorize words in languages that were foreign to them. Simple changes in the learning style took place in between groups. One group simply read over the vocabulary words, another group was quizzed on each word until they correctly recalled each word once, and other groups were quizzed on the information several times. After a week the students were tested to see what they retained. The results were staggering. The group who simply read over the information had and average recall of barely 1 percent, compared to an average recall of close to 80 percent of the group that were quizzed repeatedly.


After gaining insight form Karpicke’s study, it would seem destructive to return to studying methods similar to that of the “Rereading” strategy. It is important to take advantage of these findings and improve upon current study habits. A great way to accomplish this is by using flashcards, practice problems, or online courses that incorporate frequent quizzing. Whether you are a student or a member of the workplace, learning is an unavoidable necessity. Incorporating the practices recommended will undoubtedly increase your performance.