Flashcards are an incredibly powerful learning tool because they promote active recall, the process of actively retrieving memories out of your brain, which is one of the most efficient learning strategies there are. However, flashcards are tools made by human beings and as you probably know, things made by humans come in varying degrees of quality. The purpose of this module is to increase the efficiency of the flashcards students create and provide methods of using them for maximum ease of learning.
Learning through recollection tools and hints is one of the most effective psychological approaches to education. Perhaps flashcards are the oldest tools in the list of learning aids. Students make flashcards for the purpose of coding information, for quick revision, and to recall the material they studied earlier. This can be a simple coded piece of paper with the question on one side and the answer on the other. Self-tests and revisions are some of the simple yet effective learning exercises. This can be prepared digitally as well using the tools available on our site. Apart from acting as a platform to create, share and use your own flashcards, there are over 20 Million awesome premade flashcards available with limited free flashcard access and unlimited access for premium members.
Flashcards can be created for vocabulary in language classes, idioms, connected words, meaning and definitions, exam questions and any sort of information that can be split into two parts. These couples can both act as an answer and a question depending on which end of the stack we start going through them. The effectiveness of flashcards are an often insisted method as a potential teaching tool right from preschool all the way to higher education. The uses and exercises using a stack of cards are endless from group study, self-learning and classroom activities. The digital versions of flashcards are sharable and hence provide great tools for teaching and assessment as well.
The brain is good at connecting dots by nature. The aim of a stack of flashcards is to take a picture, mark the crucial points, commit them to cards, digital or physical and recreate the picture back again. This is called active recall and it happens through remembering the information in the context or filling in the missing parts. For example, reciting all the 50 states and capitals together is harder than just answering the capitals for the states or vice versa. The result essentially remains the same. We know the capital of each state. Therefore rote memorization and total recall is not a common and easy to achieve trait, whereas, active recall is a more feasible learning practice.
One of the most integral and important parts of learning is the process of in taking information and wrangling with it on your own and creating your own words and your own forms out of that information. This is proven to build strong neural pathways. These pathways are easily accessible and the memory of the process of creating them and the association with the actual endeavor of making the flashcards can act as recollection cues and help integrate the information better than just reading from a textbook. Book based learning is linear and as mentioned earlier, depends on the rote memorization technique.
While it is unavoidable in some cases, memorization by repeated reading or writing can be avoided wherever possible. The effectiveness of flashcards is multiplied by the factor that we can have pictorial representation for almost every single concept that we have in each card. This is a great learning technique since the language in itself is a set of pictures that we have assigned sounds to known as the alphabets. Associating a word to an object or a picture of an object is the natural ability of the human brain and cognizance that happens even without active learning or education. We picked up names of various objects as children by this same process.
It is notable that children normally have a harder time learning action words and using them in the proper tense while nouns or naming words are easy. Lifespan development and cognizance studies prove that the disjointed speech phase in children is due to the difference between the speed and volume in which the naming words are picked up versus action words. The same studies also attest that we learn more action words as adults and reduce the naming vocabulary as we grow up. The aim of an effective flashcard is to equate this and use our natural learning ability to the essential learning need.
Flashcards with pictures are very easy to make using our online flashcard maker tool and can come in handy for cracking even the most difficult subjects. The trick is to use this as creatively as possible. In cognitive psychology, there is a principle called the picture superiority effect, which describes how people remember images and pictures much better than they do words and from an evolutionary standpoint, this makes sense. Written language is just a system of arbitrary symbols that people made up and when we look at things on a grand scale, it really has not been around for all that long. Moreover, our brains are adapted to be very sensitive to imagery.
A mnemonic device is anything that helps you create associations between pieces of information in your mind. The classic one is the acronym, ROYGBIV, which helps you remember the order of the colors in the visible light spectrum, but it can really be anything and the best method is to use associative imagery on flashcards. For example, if we want to remember magnesium and its chemical symbol Mg, the flashcard can have the name Magnesium on one side and two pictures one for each letter. This can be anything of interest to you. In case you are a comic nerd, you can use Magneto asking for "More Goulash" as the picture. Now magnesium and the two letters M and G are related using images what you will be able to remember easily as it is not boring chemistry stuff anymore, but a funky yet hard to forget imagery.
The next important rule we need to follow is to have only one question or fact one each one of your flashcards. A card with a full set of questions and paragraphs of answers on the other side is NOT a flashcard. It is simply a mini version of your textbook page. This makes for a very poor flashcard, in addition to making you squint every time you read it. Further, this will lead to illusion of competence as well. Illusion of competence is a condition where we confuse recognition for recall. Recognition is simply the ability to know on a very basic level whereas recall is accurate reproduction of the information. Dumping too much of information on a single card will lead us to think we know it because we can recognize it on the card. However, recalling it again without looking at the stack is next to impossible. Create flashcards with a maximum of five to ten words and include pictures wherever possible. These pictures need not be scientific or accurate and can even make sense only to the creator of the flashcard.