Memory and learning go hand in hand, where the goal is to embed concepts learned into long-term memory. As best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell notes in his book ‘Outliers’ – “it takes 10,000 hours of intensive practice to achieve mastery of complex skills and materials, like playing the violin or getting as good as Bill Gates at computer programming”.
Your brain is primarily composed of about 85 billion neurons, which is more than the number of stars you can see with the naked eye in the night sky. A neuron is a cell which acts as a messenger, sending information in the form of nerve impulses (like electrical signals) to other neurons.
When you learn, important changes take place in your brain, which include the creation of new connections between the neurons. This phenomenon is called neuroplasticity. The more you practice, the stronger these connections become. As your connections strengthen, the messages (nerve impulses) are transmitted increasingly faster, making them more efficient. That is how you become better at anything you learn!
Research on Effectiveness of Practice Sheets (2017), concludes that practice sheets offer an ideal environment for the students to improve. Findings in the study suggest that it not only improved students’ motivation, but also their active participation and performance.
Research shows that practice is important for teaching and learning in at least three ways:
- Practice greatly increases the likelihood that students will permanently remember new information.
- Practice increases student facility or automaticity (learning to apply elements of knowledge automatically, without reflection).
- When students practice solving problems, they increase their ability to transfer practiced skills to new and more complex problems.
Repetition and practicing over and over again engraves the knowledge in your brain better than trying to cram up everything together. Scientists have observed that breaks and sleep between learning periods enhance learning. It therefore seems better to retrieve often within spaced practice sessions, as opposed to practicing a task continuously without rest. Thus, making daily practice for some time more effective than continuous practice on a single day!
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In summary, the more you practice and repeat, the more knowledge your brain will retain. Moreover, maximum retention is best achieved through repetition or practice on a regular basis rather than a few intense sessions!
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”