Believe it or not forgetting is natural part of learning anything.
Hermann Ebbinghaus, German Psychologist, is credited with research on forgetting when learning. Ebbinghaus had discovered that much of what we read/learn is forgotten during the first hour of learning itself.
Memory works in a way, that it remembers meaningful information more easily and it stays longer than meaningless information. Meaningless information is simply any information which is not in use for brain or has run out it utility. Example, it could be that information which you read for an exam and post examination have problem recalling it. Mind has an intriguing way or remembering and rejecting information.
Ebbinghaus had conducted experiment for both meaningful and meaningless retention. However, Meaningless information is important for us to study because by knowing why we forget our course material we would be able to understand and find solutions for it.
Below is retention (y-axis) vs time lapsed (x-axis) graph
In figure 1, Notice the retention drops substantially in the first hour itself. Much of what we learnt (around 80 percent) is forgotten after 2 days only. This is found to be natural and universal, meaning all exhibit this phenomenon with little variations.
However, Good news is that you can change it by disrupting the pattern exhibited in Curve.
READ also SQ3R method of studying
Key essence is to minimise forgetting is periodic revisions of course/lectures/study material
Figure 2 Image from www.salesactivator.com/resources/blog/impactful-curve-forgetting/
The point is to revise periodically whatever you have studied or read. The periodic revisions will help you retain better with least amount of mental effort.
Best way to do it is
- Revise after learning it once, or after attending a lecture.
- Again, Revise a day after your have learnt it.
- Again, Revise a week later.
- And Again, Revise a 28 days/month after learning.
In figure 2, notice that at approximately 75 percent on the y-scale (retentivity) there is an acute fall in remembering/retention. So after every learning session you should revise/review the course/notes/study material.
Hermann Ebbinghaus, has provided a gainful insight on how are memory works and how forgetting happens. The stressing viewpoint here is that this forgetting can be subject to change and you can maximize your learning.