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Brainscape's "Confidence-Based Repetition" Methodology

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Abstract

Brainscape is a synchronous web and mobile flashcard program designed to improve the retention of declarative knowledge. It is different from other spaced-repetition flashcard programs in that its pattern for re-assessment is based not on a random algorithm nor on the user's past history of correctness, but rather on the user's own judgment of confidence in each piece of information – a process that Brainscape calls Confidence-Based Repetition (CBR). In this paper, the designers of Brainscape evaluate the claim that CBR can optimize a learner's use of study time, and we highlight the large body of research that supports this claim. Our analysis concludes that Brainscape is most useful when learners have a strong intrinsic motivation to learn the topic at hand. Brainscape is particularly useful for time-starved individuals preparing for a high-stakes exam or studying a foreign language that they are very interested in learning (rather than being forced to learn).

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In this thesis is first considered how energy is taught and learned about in school, focusing on the discrepancies between a scientific definition of energy and a societal definition of energy, and discussing units of energy and the confusion they induce. Perspectives for education and energy management are provided. Then, focus is placed on the representations of energy provided in home energy management systems, seeking to propose an original classification based on educational strategies. The major obstacles met by designers reveal how energy management tools can be adapted to human cognition. Next, human numerical and magnitude processing abilities are discussed in depth, taking the viewpoint of grounded cognition and building a framework through which the impact of external representations of energy on learning and comparing can be established, understood, and predicted. This leads to two empirical studies. The first study tests the effect of external representation (symbolic or spatial) on recall and comparisons from memory. Accuracy and response time at comparisons are used as dependent variables. Results indicate analog processing of magnitude in both conditions, and show that external representation affects performance at both recall and comparison, with symbolic external representation increasing recall and comparison accuracy, and spatial external representation increasing comparison speed. The second study tests the effects of spatiality, groundedness, and physicality in external representations, also on recall and comparisons from memory, using the same dependent variables. Results indicate analog processing in all conditions. Spatiality decreases recall accuracy but increases comparison speed. Groundedness and physicality show no effect. Results are consistent with grounded cognition's mental simulations hypothesis (Barsalou, 1999, 2008; Wilson, 2002) as well as Dehaene's (1997) view on numerical cognition, in which number sense is based on a continuous accumulator that does not directly process discrete numbers. Theoretical implications and practical applications are discussed.
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Thirty-five individuals who had learned and relearned 50 English-Spanish word pairs were tested for recall and recognition after an interval of 8 years. Two variables, the spacing between successive relearning sessions and the number of presentations required to encode individual word pairs, are excellent predictors of the likelihood of achieving permastore retention. Optimum recall occurs for words encoded in 1-2 presentations and accessed at intervals of 30 days. Both variables yield monotonic retention functions that account for a range of variation from 0% to 23% recall. These variables also have very significant effects on the recognition of unrecalled words.
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A compendium of articles classified into 5 parts: "Purpose and Scope of This Book," "Pressey's Self-Instructional Test-Scoring Devices," "Skinner's Teaching Machines and Programming Concepts," Contributions from Military and Other Sources," and "Some Recent Work." Part I includes an introductory overview (Lumsdaine) and a preview (Glaser). Part II presents S. L. Pressey's 3 original papers on teaching machines and a paper on a punch board device, as well as experimental studies on programed guidance (J. C. Peterson), drill by machine (J. K. Little), a new self-scoring testing device for improving instruction (G. W. Angell & M. E. Troyer), and law of effect (A. L. Stephens). In Part III, papers by B. F. Skinner, D. Porter, J. G. Holland, L. E. Homme, C. B. Ferster, S. M. Sapon, S. R. Meyer, and W. Hively define the reinforcement approach. In Part IV, general and military papers cover educational invention (I. Mellan), programing (N. A. Crowder, E. Z. Rothkopf), instrumental papers (P. K. Weimer, L. J. Briggs, G. Pask, F. M. Gardner, D. E. Damrin, Glaser), and the technology of teaching (S. Ramo, J. D. Finn). In Part V, recent work covers special projects (J. A. Barlow, Glaser & Homme, J. E. Coulson & H. F. Silberman, E. B. Fry, T. F. Gilbert, A. Amsel) and a general appraisal of machines (J. W. Blyth, D. J. Mayhew & A. F. Johnson, Pressey, Lumsdaine, W. J. Carr). (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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The "testing" phenomenon refers to the finding that students who take a test on material between the time they first study and the time they take a final test remember more of the material than students who do not take an intervening test. 4 experiments examined the testing phenomenon in student's memory for brief passages and labels for parts of flowers. Experiments 1a and 1b demonstrated the generality of the phenomenon to the methods and materials used in the current study. Experiment 2 ruled out an "amount of processing" hypothesis as a way of accounting for the testing phenomenon. The results of Experiment 3 seemed to indicate that the testing phenomenon resided in the number of complete retrieval events. Experiments 4a, 4b, and 4c focused on the completeness of retrieval events and indicated that the influence of retrieval on later memory performance was determined, at least in part, by the completeness of the initial retrieval event. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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T. K. Landauer and R. A. Bjork (1978) demonstrated that a pattern of expanding retrieval trials following a single study opportunity results in higher final recall than uniform spacing or uniform massing of tests. Although expanding retrieval practice has been described as a powerful mnemonic strategy with wide potential application, it has been infrequently investigated. The authors obtained evidence for the generality of this strategy by exploring systematically in a series of 5 experiments the conditions under which an expanding pattern of retrieval enhances retention. By expanding knowledge of this mnemonic strategy, the authors seek to stimulate research on what appears to be a missed opportunity for applied memory researchers. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Conducted 2 experiments to explore the ability of 115 college students to use a rating scale to predict during study which of the to-be-remembered items they would be able to retrieve in a later test of recall. The memory tasks involved paired-associate learning of lists of unrelated nouns and memory for sentences cued by the initial words. Probability of recall was systematically related to predictions in all conditions. Accuracy of prediction was found to increase with prior study experience with the rated material in the absence of prior test trials, although substantial prediction was possible even when predictions were made on the initial, and only, study trial. There was considerable commonality in the ratings of items across Ss, as well as evidence of an idiosyncratic component suggesting that the ratings reflected a monitoring based on privileged access by the S to his/her own encoding and storage operations. Ability to predict accurately which items would be recalled bore little or no relation to memory ability as indexed by the number of items recalled. (17 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Proposed and evaluated 4 optimization strategies for the learning of a large German-English vocabulary using 120 undergraduates. The 1st strategy involved presenting items in a random order and served as a benchmark against which the others could be evaluated. The 2nd strategy permitted S to determine on each trial of the experiment which item was to be presented, thus placing instruction under "learner control." The 3rd and 4th strategies were based on a mathematical model of the learning process; these strategies were computer controlled and took account of S's response history in making decisions about which items to present next. Performance on a delayed test administered 1 wk. after the instructional session indicated that the learner-controlled strategy yielded a gain of 53% when compared to the random procedure, whereas the best of the 2 computer-controlled strategies yielded a gain of 108%. Implications for a theory of instruction are considered. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Three experiments, with 276 undergraduates, examined how degree of learning affects normal forgetting. Exp I varied learning of categorized lists and tested retention at 3 intervals (immediately and 1 or 5 days after presentation). Across all measures, study trials affected intercepts but not slopes of forgetting functions. Exp II varied learning of paired-associate lists and tested retention at the same 3 intervals. Across all measures, trials influenced intercepts but not forgetting slopes. Exp III varied learning of sentence lists and tested verbatim and gist memory at the same intervals. Again, trials affected intercepts but not slopes. Results suggest that the forgetting of verbal lists is independent of their degree of learning. No current theories of memory predict these outcomes, but neither does the pattern of results disconfirm any theory. It is argued that present memory theorizing neglects almost entirely the central problem of normal forgetting. (36 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Tested a 2-process theory of the spacing effect in free recall in 4 experiments with a total of 216 college students and paid Ss. The 1st process, differential organization, produces a positive correlation between the spacing of the presentations of repeated words and the number of different retrieval routes that can provide access to the words. The retrieval process interacts with the differential organization to control performance. If the cues used to retrieve the words provide approximately equal access to all retrieval routes, then the function relating spacing to recall will increase monotonically. If only selected retrieval routes are used, then the spacing function will be nonmonotonic. Results supporting this theory are that (a) the monotonic spacing function was most robust when Ss studied the list using an organizational strategy, (b) cuing and directing retrieval with input words resulted in a nonmonotonic effect of spacing when Ss had used an organizational strategy, and (c) directing retrieval by instructions about the order of recall resulted in a nonmonotonic effect of spacing. (22 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Two parametric theories, the Markov model of J. L. Young (1971, Journal of Mathematical Psychology8, 58–81) and A. V. Reed's (1976a, Memory and Cognition4, 453–458) version of the strength-resistance theory (Wickelgren, W. A., 1972, Journal of Mathematical Psychology9, 418–455; Wicklelgren, W. A., 1974a, Contemporary developments in mathematical psychology, Freeman, New York; Wickelgren, W. A., 1974b, Memory and Cognition2, 775–780), were tested against the spacing effects data for A. M. Glenberg (1976, Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior15, 1–16). Under the assumption that the position of items in the strength distribution about the mean is due to random variability in perceptual processes at the time of retrieval, the strength-resistance theory fitted the data quantitatively without significant deviations, the X2 value falling between the median and the 90th percentile of the applicable X2 distribution. The strength-resistance theory also accounts for qualitative observations left unexplained by other theoretical schemes.
Article
The revival of interest in the effectiveness of spaced practice, as compared with massed practice, in learning is attributed to the abandonment of the constraints of serial and paired-associate list learning and the discovery of stable benefits from spaced practice in continuous paired-associate learning, short-term memory for individual items, and single-trial free-recall learning. Comments are made about the preceding symposium papers by Underwood, Waugh, and Greeno, and some data on the differential effects of spacing of repetitions in free-recall learning are introduced in an effort to assess the current state of fact and theory.
Article
Encoding strategies vary in their duration of effectiveness, and individuals can best identify and modify strategies that yield effects of short duration on the basis of retrieval failures. Multiple study sessions with long inter-session intervals are better than massed training at providing discriminative feedback that identifies encoding strategies of short duration. We report two investigations in which long intervals between study sessions yield substantial benefits to long-term retention, at a cost of only moderately longer individual study sessions. When individuals monitor and control encoding over an extended period, targets yielding the largest number of retrieval failures contribute substantially to the spacing advantage. These findings are relevant to theory and to educators whose primary interest in memory pertains to long-term maintenance of knowledge.
Chapter
Optimizing the user experience should be the ultimate aim of the Web usability designer.
Article
An experiment was performed to investigate the effects of practice and spacing on retention of Japanese-English vocabulary paired associates. The relative benefit of spacing increased with increased practice and with longer retention intervals. Data were fitted with an activation-based memory model, which proposes that each time an item is practiced it receives an increment of strength but that these increments decay as a power function of time. The rate of decay for each presentation depended on the activation at the time of the presentation. This mechanism limits long-term benefits from further practice at higher levels of activation and produces the spacing effect and its observed interactions with practice and retention interval. The model was compared with another model of the spacing effect (Raaijmakers, 2003) and was fit to some results from the literature on spacing and memory.
Article
Preferences for certain characteristics of an online shopping experience may be related to demographic data. This paper discusses the characteristics of that experience, demographic data and preferences by demographic group. The results of an online survey of 488 individuals in the United States indicate that respondents are generally satisfied with their online shopping experiences, with security, information quality and information quantity ranking first in importance overall. The sensory impact of a site ranked last overall of the seven characteristics measured. Preferences for these characteristics in e-commerce sites were differentiated by age, education and income. The sensory impact of sites became less important as respondents increased in age, income or education. As the income of respondents increased, the importance of the reputation of the vendor rose. Web site designers may incorporate these findings into the design of e-commerce sites in an attempt to increase the shopping satisfaction of their users. Results from the customer relationship management portion of the survey suggest that current push technologies and site personalization are not an effective means of achieving user satisfaction.
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From the experimental study of learning come devices which arrange optimal conditions for self-instruction.
Human factors design guide update (Report number DOT/FAA/CT-96/01): A revision to chapter 8 -computer human interface guidelines
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