Cornell versus Ebbinghaus

e=mc2andallthat

Most of us are only too familiar with the mordant truth of Shakespeare’s observation that “Old men forget, yet all shall be forgot”. In fact, things are generally even worse than the Bard suggests: everyone forgets, all the time.

In time, all shall indeed be forgot.

This was established experimentally by Hermann Ebbinghaus in 1880. The graph below shows Ebbinghaus’ original results with some more recent replications (from Murre and Dros 2015).

Diagram from https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0120644

However, there is a workaround or “hack” that allows us to beat the Ebbinghaus curve of forgetfulness.

The Power of Review

Diagram from Chun and Heo 2018. (Top annotations with coloured circles added to original.)

If the content is reviewed at regular intervals, not only do we remember more but the review process also slows down the rate at which knowledge decays.

Cornell notes as a structure for regular review

‘Cornell notes’ is a two…

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