As the brain acquires new knowledge, the connections between the neurons become stronger, creating a more robust network and allowing the neurons to communicate more quickly. This is learning, and the more we rehearse a skill or piece of information, the quicker we are able to retrieve it and the easier it becomes.
For students of any age, anything that can be done to enhance this process and make memory retrieval easier and more efficient is a valuable tool on the learning journey. Reading aloud has been proven to help us remember more of what we have read, but this can be taken a step further, and students can increase their learning speed and efficiency by recording themselves reading and talking out loud.
Recording To Understand
The British Psychological Society reported on a study led by Aloysius Wei Lun Koh, which found that teaching information previously studied improves a teacher’s memory because it forces them to retrieve the learned information.
Furthermore, explaining the information in different words helps to consolidate the teacher’s understanding of a topic. This skill is as useful to students as it is to teachers, both as a co-learning tool, and as a means to improve their own understanding.
By recording themselves explaining the information, essentially taking on the role of both teacher and learner, and then listening back to their ‘lesson,’ students can consolidate their understanding and strengthen the connections between the neurons.
Recording To Revise
Self-recording really comes into its own when it comes to revision.
The act of recording the information helps the learner to process it and consolidate their understanding, but the recording can then be used in other contexts to help them revise.
According to contextual-binding theory, episodic memory relies on us recalling the spatial and temporal contexts of our experiences. What this means for the learner is that attaching the information to specific contexts can help them remember it.
Therefore, recording key information and then listening to it in different contexts - such as on a walk, around the house or on a shopping trip - can help a student attach the information to different locations, making it easier to retrieve.
However, it’s important to note that the quality of the recording is important in this context. Too much background noise on the recording will make it difficult to hear clearly, which will interfere with the process.
If information is recorded outdoors, for example, the recorder is likely to pick up on traffic noises and wind. In order to obtain a cleaner sound, it’s therefore best to use a directional mic such as a handheld microphone or a lavalier microphone rather than relying on a built-in phone mic.
Recording For Self-Assessment
Depending on the subject, listening back to a recording can also help students to pick up on errors they’re making and improve their technique. This is particularly useful in learning languages, when students can hear errors in their pronunciation and grammar that they may not have realised they were making.
This can also help with preparing for a presentation, as they can hear what information they’re presenting clearly and which parts need some work.
Recording can play a valuable role in active learning and can help students to retrieve information and consolidate their understanding. It can be particularly valuable for those who are not visual learners, although everyone can benefit from taking in information on multiple channels. So audio learning can help even those who learn well by traditional means.