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Recently, a colleague and I were lamenting the process of growing older and the inevitable increasing difficulty of remembering things we want to remember . That becomes particularly annoying when you attend a conference or a learning seminar and find yourself forgetting the entire session just days later.
But then my colleague told me about the
Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve, a 100-year-old formula developed by German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus, who pioneered the experimental study of memory. The psychologist’s work has resurfaced recently and has been making its way around college campuses as a tool to help students remember lecture material. For example, the University of Waterloo explains the curve and how to use it on their Campus Wellness website. I teach at Indiana University and a student mentioned it to me in class as a study aid he uses. Intrigued, I tried it out too–more on that in a moment.
The Forgetting Curve describes how we retain or lose information that we take in, using a one-hour lecture as the basis of the model. The curve is at its highest point (the most information retained) right after the one-hour lecture. One day after the lecture, if you’ve done nothing with the material, you’ll have lost between 50-80 percent of it from your memory.
By day seven that erodes to about 10 percent retained and by day 30, the information is virtually gone (only 2-3 percent retained). After this, without any intervention, you’ll likely need to relearn the material from scratch.
Sounds about right from my experience.
But here comes the amazing part–how easily you can train your brain to reverse the curve.
With just 20 minutes work you’ll retain almost all of what you learned.
This is possible through the practice of what’s called spaced intervals, where you revisit and reprocess the same material, but in a very specific pattern. Doing so means it takes you less and less time to retrieve the information from your long-term memory when you need it. Here’s where the 20-minutes and very specific spaced intervals come in.
Ebbinghaus’ formula calls for you to spend 10 minutes reviewing the material within 24 hours of having received it (that will raise the curve back up to almost 100 percent retained again). Seven days later, spend five minutes to “reactivate” the same material and raise the curve up again. By day 30, your brain only needs two to four minutes to completely “reactivate” the same material, again raising the curve back up.
Thus, a total of 20 minutes invested in review at specific intervals and voila, a month later you have fantastic retention of that interesting seminar. After that, monthly “brush ups” of just a few minutes will help you keep the material fresh.
Here’s what happened when I tried it.
I put the specific formula to the test. I keynoted at a conference and was also able to take in two other one-hour keynotes at the conference. For one of the keynotes I took no notes, and sure enough, just shy of a month later I can barely remember any of it.
For the second keynote, I took copious notes and followed the spaced interval formula. A month later, by golly, I remember virtually all of the material. And in case if you’re wondering, both talks were equally interesting to me–the difference was the reversal of Ebbinghaus’ Forgetting Curve.
So the bottom line here is if you want to remember what you learned from an interesting seminar or session, don’t take a “cram for the exam” approach when you want to use the info. That might have worked in college (although Waterloo University specifically advises against cramming, encouraging students to follow the aforementioned approach instead). Instead, invest the 20-minutes (in spaced out intervals) so that a month later it’s all still there in the old noggin.

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Education

2019/2020: Inconclusive end to an academic session?

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By now, primary, secondary and technical colleges across the country would have concluded the 2019/2020 academic session with all the attendant fun. Prize giving day, end of the session party and other related activities would have been held, but that is not to be, no thanks to the coronavirus disease that is ravaging the country and which has led to schools, up to university level, being shut.
Most of the schools were yet to conclude second terms when they were shut last March and the thought of concluding it and/or resuming for the third term to complete the session did not arise in many instances.
While public schools stopped all academic activities, some private ones found a way through online teaching. Some started by using Whatsapp, while others go for Google classroom and others.
Some schools in Lekki area of Lagos moved to e-learning and charged between N200,000 and N400,000 per student. They even engaged the services of despatch riders to take materials to and from students’ homes.
Speaking during a recent meeting with parents of students in her school, Mrs Gladys Grimes, the owner of Saint Gladys Primary School and Grimes College in Alagbado, Lagos, said pupils and students must be engaged one way or the other to sustain their interest in education. ‘Charging fees for such services depends on locations and the ability of parents to pay.
“We cannot do so here, as we understand our terrain and we don’t want to put our parents under undue pressure. We started using WhatsApp to teach our students and asked parents to pay just N2,500 per student.
“We did that for some weeks and now since it appears schools may not reopen as quickly as expected, we want to migrate to Google Classroom for our secondary school students and we are only charging N18,000 per student and those in JSS3 and SSS 3 are exempted.“This is because they are expected to have completed their school fees payment before now. The new approach may serve as third term and for the promotion of the students to the next class,” she said.
Grimes opined that there was nothing spectacular if none of the usual ends of the year activities did not take place, saying the health and safety of students, teachers and others were important.
With the phased reopening of schools starting with final secondary school students this week in most parts of the country and the attendant fixing of dates for examinations by the West African Examinations Council, WAEC, the National Examinations Council, NECO, and the National Business and Technical Examinations Board, NABTEB, most states may eventually cancel the third term of the 2019/2020 academic year.
This is because the examinations to be conducted by the aforementioned bodies will run through this month and November this year.

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Education

NUC begins assessment of universities ahead resumption

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The National Universities Commission (NUC) said it is collecting data from universities to assess their readiness for resumption of academic activities.

The commission also said efforts are ongoing to resolve the strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities’ (ASUU) that threatens to further delay the resumption of academic activities in the universities.

The Executive Secretary of NUC, Abubakar Rasheed. said this during a press conference on the contributions of Nigerian universities to the national response to COVID-19 in Abuja on Tuesday.

Nigeria closed its tertiary institutions along with lower schools in March due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Mr Adamu, who was represented at the event by the deputy executive secretary Academics, Suleiman Yusuf, said the Commission is working with universities to discuss preparation that should be in place before reopening.

According to him, universities not under ASUU watch can go back to classes once they have put the necessary guidelines in place.

“We gave a template to vice-chancellors of all universities requesting them to suggest to us what kind of protocols and strategies they are putting in place in the various institutions. We are collecting some of the responses which have already started coming in and at the end of the day the picture should emerge about the extent to which our universities are prepared to reopen for academic activities,” he said.

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ASUU commenced its warning strike on March 9 and declared an indefinite strike on March 23.

ASUU is embarking on the strike over the non-payment of salaries of their members who failed to enrol into the federal government’s IPPIS, a payroll software mandated for all public officials.

Contributions by universities

Mr Rasheed said over 32 universities in the country are involved in research aimed at mitigating the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said the performance of the African Centres of Excellence has proved that world-class research and development work is possible in Nigeria.

“Particularly, the Centre for the Genomics of Infectious Diseases at the Redeemer’s University, Ede in Sequencing SARS-CoV-2 virus, the collaborative development of vaccines with the University of Cambridge and as a pioneer national testing and screening centre and the other ACES in ABU, BUK, UNILAG, UNIBEN, UNIPORT and UNIJOS that also served as national testing and screening centres have proved that world-class Research and Development work is possible in Nigeria,” he said.

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He said a compendium put together by the Commission showed Nigerian universities are making contributions to development.

”University of Jos which is leading in herbal and natural product development could do more if the federal government releases more funds to such institutions for research purposes.

“As in many other parts of the world, the pandemic has challenged our knowledge system, which has proved inadequate and insufficiently robust enough to respond to the challenges. Only a few institutions have been able to utilise the open and distance learning system to keep students engaged while the pandemic lasted and only few laboratories continued with research and development activities,” he said.

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Premium Times reported how the federal government in June advised tertiary institutions in Nigeria to put preventive measures against COVID-19 in place before they announce their re-opening.

The preventive measures include Installing hand-washing facilities, equipment for body temperature checks and others.

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