Learning is all about retaining knowledge so it can be accessed later on. You can only teach something when you’ve retained information in the most efficient way for your brain to recall it. That means learning something new as if you were planning to teach it could be one of the best ways to learn.
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A recent study in the journal Memory & Cognition had two groups learning new information. One group was told they had to teach the information after learning it and the other was just told to learn it for themselves. Afterward, both groups took the exact same test on the material and no one actually had to teach anyone. The study’s lead, Dr John Nestojko, describes the results:
When compared to learners expecting a test, learners expecting to teach recalled more material correctly, they organised their recall more effectively and they had better memory for especially important information. The immediate implication is that the mindset of the student before and during learning can have a significant impact on learning, and that positively altering a student’s mindset can be effectively achieved through rather simple instructions.
So how can you use this to your advantage? When you’re studying something new, think of somebody you know and plan to teach it to them. Fellow students, a colleague, your significant other, anyone. As you go over the material, detail specifically how you would convey the knowledge to that person so they could understand it just as thoroughly. You can even create a lesson plan highlighting the key components. You don’t have to teach anyone anything when it’s all said and done, but you’ll know the material so well, you could if you needed to. Check out the rest of the study at the link below.