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StudyCards Guide



Techniques for creating cards for studying


Do It Yourself (DIY) is more popular than it has been in a long time. For good reason too. Sometime nobody does it better than you.


Educators rely heavily on learning activities that encourage elaborative studying, while activities that require students to practice retrieving and reconstructing knowledge are used less frequently. Here, we show that practicing retrieval produces greater gains in meaningful learning than elaborative studying with concept mapping. The advantage of retrieval practice generalized across texts identical to those commonly found in science education. The advantage of retrieval practice was observed with test questions that assessed comprehension and required students to make inferences. The advantage of retrieval practice occurred even when the criterial test involved creating concept maps. Our findings support the theory that retrieval practice enhances learning by retrieval-specific mechanisms rather than by elaborative study processes. Retrieval practice is an effective tool to promote conceptual learning about science.  - Abstract from : Retrieval Practice Produces More Learning than Elaborative Studying with Concept Mapping by - Jeffrey D. Karpicke* and Janell R. Blunt


Taking a test is not just a passive mechanism for assessing how much people know, according to new research. It actually helps people learn, and it works better than a number of other studying techniques.

To Really Learn, Quit Studying and Take a Test
By PAM BELLUCK  New York Times Jan 20, 2011.


Some research, however, suggests that successful learning is more complicated than attaining information. The brain also needs practice in calling up the information at will. Students can go over a text, or understand and manipulate information as much as they need to, but in order to have learned something successfully, they need to have the information at the ready. A recent study followed two groups of students. They both learned something from a text.


If you make your own cards you can have some level of trust the information is accurate and you can have a higher level of confidence the information is relevant to your needs. Whenever you take a shortcut you take some additional level of risk. Obviously, you need to balance that risk against your needs; sometimes it makes sense to take a risk.


If you're not doing something out of fear of making a mistake or you're unsure how to do something correctly then take a moment and learn how to do the task correctly. We've tried to simplify the process of creating your own cards by preparing some spreadsheets for you. We've moved most of the formatting and complexity into spreadsheet formulas on the right side that use the data you enter into cells on the left side of the sheet. This allows you to focus on the content of the cards and not worry about formatting.


You can take a looks at these formulas and improve upon them for your own needs.  This will allow you to create personalized decks quickly whenever you need them.


Take our spreadsheets as starting points to further your goals. We've intentionally not complicated them with special embedded formatting (e.g. centering of text, larger or smaller text). You can embellish these as you feel is helpful. If you find something that would be very helpful then please feel free to post your spreadsheet to GoogleDocs and include the name StudyCards in the name so it will show up when a user searches that term.


Building Relevance:

Finding and accumulating the information for your cards is fairly straight forward: You have books, online sources, practice exams, notes, magazine clippings, things in your head - putting these into a spreadsheet will take some time, but certainly time well spent. You gain a huge benefit from the process of creating your own cards; boiling down a huge mass of data to the essential facts you need to know is part of the study process and builds relevance. This is an incredibly valuable part of the process. Build relevance in your own cards.


Building Trust:

Fact checking, double sourcing your information is important. You obviously don't want to memorize the wrong facts. Have someone review your spreadsheets if needed. This may help identify easy misses and let you work on other cards for yourself. Reviewing the cards with a critical eye first will help you build confidence and reinforce your knowledge.


Building a Process:

By creating your own cards on spreadsheets you will find that you can easily update the sheets to add additional information, correct previous cards, delete redundant or unncessary cards from your deck. You also build a backup storage of the knowledge to recreate cards in the event of a loss of your device. You will become more self-sufficient and you create a repeatable procedure you can follow to create cards quickly.