In the article by Benedict Carey on The New York Times, Carey contradicts traditional study methods and questions why schools haven’t begun using proven, effective approaches. First, he says that changing the room where someone studies can increase retention. When the brain can make multiple associations between the material being studied and the backgrounds of different rooms, more neural connections are made and this slows forgetting.

Secondly, instead of focusing on one topic for a set amount of time, studying different but related topics in that time frame can also improve retention. Mixing different math equations during learning has been proven to improve performance. Also, in a study with college students and retirement age adults, the subjects could identify twelve different painter’s style better if they viewed a mixed collection at first as opposed to one artist at a time. By using this concept of learning, the brain learns the deeper patterns of the material.

Also, when material is learned carefully and gradually, the brain recalls information better and retains it longer. This may be due to the fact that when the brain recalls information later, it must relearn information before it can add more.

Finally, practice tests are helpful for learning, rather than just assessing; it changes the way information is stored. The article says that “the harder it is to remember something, the harder it is to later forget.” If something is very difficult to recall, it will be stored better for next time. It’s important to remember that students must be properly motivated because real life has distractions that the laboratory settings control.