Are flashcards improving performance in our students?
Many of our students are well informed about how to revise. This is in part due to The Memory Clock, a revision tool devised at Sandringham. Flashcards are a technique that can be used alongside the clock, and have long been promoted to improve knowledge retention. In fact, some students seem to take great delight in creating hundreds of colour coordinated versions for each of their subjects. However, are they actually benefiting students in the way we think they are?
Last October, I embarked on a neuroscience-informed randomised control trial. The project was supported and funded jointly by the Education Development Trust and the Wellcome Trust. It involved 92 students in Year 9 Science over a series of seven lessons. All students were given identical lessons except for one difference. Half were asked to create at least one flashcard to summarise content at the end of each lesson and used these to test each other at the beginning of the next lesson. The other half did not experience this and continued with normal teaching practice. The results were surprising and have implications as to how flashcards can be used effectively in lessons.
See my presentation below for a brief summary of the results and some recommendations for using flashcards with students.