Professor Jim Davies’ learning technique makes studying simpler
With classroom days in the dim past, returning students often shudder at the thought of studying a new subject. One reason is fear of forgetting new kinds of facts, but there’s a tech-savvy way to help hone study and memorization skills.
The SuperMemo is an online program that creates cards in a question-and-answer format. The program decides which cards you’ll look at on your computer screen every day and keeps track of which answers you got right and wrong. If you answer incorrectly, expect the same question again during your next session. If you get a check mark, more time will lapse before that question reappears.
“The problem with normal flash cards is that you waste a ton of time reviewing cards that you already know by heart,” says Jim Davies, assistant professor of cognitive science.
It’s all about timing. The program shows you the right cards to review at the right time. The best time to review an item is just before you are likely to forget it, says Davies, who can attest to the SuperMemo’s usefulness. He has used the SuperMemo technique to memorize 3,000 facts on everything ranging from street names in Ottawa to how to pronounce the letters in the Bulgarian alphabet. As a faithful subscriber, Davies assigns his students SuperMemo work where they design their own set of questions based on his lectures.