Reflection on The Bradford Research School Memory Course

28 October 2018

This year we will be running our successful course on Maximising Memory and the Science of Learning again. In this post, Emma Dobson, Chemistry teacher at Skipton Girls’ High School, shares how the course improved her own practice.

All too often you attend a training course, are inspired by the facilitators and other members of the cohort, return to school bubbling with fresh inspiration only to become waylaid with another piece of work. This course though, has honestly, actively changed the way I teach.

Attending the three part research school funded training course on Memory has fundamentally altered the way I interact with my classes, not only in terms of delivery and teaching of content and study skills but also in terms of an open and honest communication with pupils about their learning. I now really ensure that I explain to my pupils the benefit of choosing to study in a certain way. Not only explaining, but explicitly showing pupils how to study memorisation techniques has made real inroads.

One technique that we not only discussed on the course but were also immersed in ourselves was the Leitner method of studying flashcards. The idea is a simple, repetitive way for pupils to rehearse information as well as improving recall. Allowing lesson time to practise a skill, accompanied by a clear ‘how to’ YouTube video was not only valued by students but also visibly gave them the self-confidence to take responsibility for their own learning. Engagement by all pupils was high and all pupils improved their knowledge in a quick check test. Although ultimately pupils will be required to apply this new found knowledge, the technique gave them a firm basis in the knowledge and the confidence to trust themselves to use it.

Particularly looking at how exams are now are now assessed at the end of what is sometimes a two/three year stint of hard work, it is of evermore paramount importance that we teach pupils how to test themselves, quickly, easily and regularly to consolidate and memorise knowledge.

The most rewarding part of the whole experience was a pupil’s form teacher coming to me and saying how much one struggling pupils outlook had changed – she felt empowered to learn independently, something that she hadn’t had the confidence to do before. After all, is that not what we are all trying to achieve?

Find out more about the course here.

Posted on 28 October 2018
Posted in: Blog

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