Learn vs. Memorize

Students try very hard to memorize facts, definitions and concepts. They may spend a lot of time doing the memorization and then not do well on a test. Why?

Memorizing information does not mean that the student truly understands the material. For example – take a 3×5 index card. Write the vocabulary word on the front. Then on the other side, copy the definition directly from the textbook. The textbook definition may not have meaning to the student but the student knows the definition words must be memorized for the test. Then when a student gets to the test and the information is used with different words other than the ones the student memorized, there is confusion and the student cannot answer the question.

When a student truly learns a vocabulary word, the student should be able to discuss he meaning of the word and give examples. A suggestion is- on the reverse side of the card where the definition has been carefully copied- take a highlighter and highlight the words that are truly needed for the definition. Cut out the extraneous words. Add pictures, diagrams or charts to the card. A student should practice explaining the vocabulary word or concept by teaching it to someone else- maybe a parent.

The student should plan the time for learning this way. The learning should be done daily. The number of words and concepts should be spread over the days where learning can take place. This should happen in advance of the day of the test.

Questions? Contact Beth Silver. Email:bethcarolsilver@gmail.com. Phone: 310-720-0390.

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