The DNA of iCapisce

120 years of education research

Learning anything is easy when you take advantage of 120 years of education research.

Benedict Carey*, Senior Education Writer for the New York Times, found education research falls into two broad categories.

  1. There are easy changes we can make to build strong storage memory and
  2. There are fun activities we can do to improve our retrieval memory.

Implementing some or all of those steps could double, triple, quadruple and even quintuple our learning performance.

The upside of all that research for you is a significant reduction in time and effort required to learn anything. We've incorporated almost all of the features below into iCapisce so that you get better results, faster and free up your time for exercise, relationships and life's little overheads.


Feature Benefit Evidence
Learn terminology first Every subject is defined by its own terminology. If students learn, or at least familiarise themselves with that terminology, then they can move more rapidly and confidently into higher-order learning activities such as discussion, debate and problem solving. @Arthur Gates 1917, Spitzer 1938, Mangini 1960, Karpicke & Roediger 2006 and E Bjork & Nicholas Sonderstrom 2008.
Short, bite-size topics Manageable units of learning aids focus, repetition and topic distribution. Repetition and practice builds stronger storage memory and retrieval memory. Ebbinghaus, Bjork.
Associate imagery with term The brain stores pictures better than facts. Pictures are used to build fast indexes to useful facts. The "Ballard" effect. Erdelyi, Smith, Bjork and Glenberg.
Repetition Builds storage AND retrieval memory. Connections between cells, called synapses, thicken with repeated use facilitating faster transmission of signals. Terje Lomo & Tim Bliss.
Memory - Storage The brain indexes facts and ideas in networks of perceptions, thoughts, pictures, sounds, emotions and smells which can be accessed in multiple ways Bjork & Bjork. Carey - How We Learn. p.20
Memory - Strength Storage strength can increase but never decrease - Bjork. Memory is forever available but it relies totally on it is retrieved. Experiments conducted by Robert and Elizabeth Bjork developed the Theory of Disuse, which acknowledged any memory has two strengths: storage and retrieval.
Multi-Modal Learning ... (i) Visual (ii) Auditory (iii) Kinaesthetic Simple unrelated facts are hard to remember (semantic memory). Adding visual, auditory and kinaesthetic modalities brings extra hooks to make retrieval easier. “The more regions of the brain that store data about a subject, the more interconnection there is and the easier it is to retrieve." Judy Willis, Neurologist.
Visual - I see it "A picture is worth a thousand words." Matthew Erdelyi & Jeff Kleinbard proved "reminiscence is strong for images, photographs, drawings and paintings."
Auditory - I hear it Listening to the words while studying builds stronger retrieval memory. 40% of learners are Auditory learners (Expert)
Kinaesthetic - I do it Physical activity builds stronger storage and retrieval memory.
Background music Listening to background soundtracks builds even stronger retrieval memory if the same music is played back later. Steven Smith from Texas A&M University used music as an aid to study and gained positive results. Daniel Willingham experimented using music with positive results.
Video explanations Video explanations (often using music and animation) give extra information to build stronger memory cues. Smith, Shepard & Cooper 1982 and later Mayer & Gallini 1990, made the connection between visual cues, the memory process and the recall of new knowledge.
Practice - Regularly Builds fast-access retrieval memory. Hermann Ebbinghaus 1885, Richard Bjork 1970s, Lomo & Bliss demonstrated thickening of neural pathways.
Practice - Harder The harder we have to work to retrieve a memory, the greater the subsequent spike in retrieval and storage strength. Bjork's "desirable difficulty" principle. The harder the brain has to work to dig out a memory, the greater the increase in learning - retrieval and storage.
Practice matching & repetition Repetition strengthens the neural pathways for both storage AND retrieval. Ebbinghaus 1885, Lomo & Bliss.
Pre-Testing & Testing Being tested on unfamiliar material prepares the mind for learning. Roediger, Karpicke, Bjork, Kornell. The act of guessing engages the mind in a different and more demanding way than straight memorization, deepening the impact of correct answers. Pre-testing is another manifestation of "desirable difficulty."
Rewards Rewards build confidence. B.F.Skinner.
Forget To Learn "Forgetting is the best friend of learning". Trivial information is ignored. Richard Bjork's Theory of Disuse vs Edward Thorndike's Law of Disuse
Spacing Irrelevant information is subconsciously filtered out during breaks. "Distributed Learning" - 2-3 day spacing - provides optimum memory building time and can double the amount we remember.
Retention The optimum learning interval to retain information is 1-2 days, then 1 week, then 1 month, then every 2-3 months. Wozniak spacing (minimum intervals) and the Four Bahrick Study (maximum intervals)
Exam - Cramming An all-nighter before an exam will get you a pass; however, you will not recall any of the information next week, next semester, next year or during your career. "The nocturnal sprint is like stuffing a cheap suitcase: it will hold for a while then everything falls out." Carey - How We Learn p.66
Exam - Learning "3 hours on day 1 + 3 hours on day 8 + 3 hours on day 14 = 9 hours of cramming" and the residual memory lasts much longer. Melody Wiseheart - Spacing is primarily retention technique. Choose how long you want to retrieve the information. Carey - How We Learn. p.79
Location - "Yes & No" Students will recall more the next day if they learn, practice AND test in the same location. However... D.R.Godden and A.D.Baddeley - Reinstatement
Change rooms - often Studying the same material in different locations will boost retrieval memory by 40%. Smith, Bjork, Glenberg - University of Michigan
Change study techniques Writing, typing, recording, using flash-cards or reading notes aloud while sitting, standing, running, rowing etc. forces you to think about and store the material in different ways. Carey - How We Learn. p.64
Change practice techniques Putting the brain under increasing learning pressure increases both storage memory AND retrieval memory. "The harder the challenge, the stronger the memory". Carey - How We Learn. p.64
Change the font Learn more by changing the screen font on a computer or tablet. Complex cursive fonts require greater concentration and therefore build stronger neural pathways. Connor Dieman-Yauman - Indianna University
Study 'pills' Study 'pills' (alcohol, nicotine and other drugs) only work if you can retrieve the information while in the same state with the same 'pill'. Retrieval cues are encoded in the drug associated state. A clear, drug-free mind will always deliver a better result.
Explain/Teach Communicating what you've learned is an extremely powerful form of study. Bjork & Roediger - Explaining/teaching someone else is 20-30% more powerful than sitting down reading notes.
Regular physical exercise Physical activity enhances cognitive processes
Regular sleep Aids in filtering and forgetting trivial information.
Consistency Consistency has been disproved by interval learning. Ebbinghaus, Wozniak, Wiseheart