Home » E-Learning » We forget, it’s only natural – what can we do about it?

We forget, it’s only natural – what can we do about it?

Fig.1. The Forgetting Curve. Ebbinghaus (1885)

‘The psychological conclusion demands a distribution of repetitions such that some of them should be produced at a later time, separated from the first repetition by a pause’. (Vygotsky, 1926)

More recently, in the last ten years in fact, Dr B Price Kerfoot of Harvard Medical School (2006) created a platform called SpacedEd (now Qstream) that uses multichoice questions, typically and most successfully with first year medical students, where sets of questions are randomised then sent out as text or email to tackle, I suppose, what Ebbinghaus (1885) identified with his ‘Forgetting Curve’. An evidence based paper on the effectiveness of ‘spaced learning’ showed how there was better retention three months, six months and a year down the line.


Ebbinghaus, H (1885) Memory: A contribution to experimental psychology.

Kerfoot, B, P (2006) SPACED EDUCATION. Interactive Spaced-Education to Teach the Physical Examination: A randomized Controlled Trial.

Vygotsky, L (1926) Educational Psychology


Formative Tests Aid Retention



  1. EricaK says:

    You may find some interesting answers to your question (“…what can we do about it”) here: http://cognitioneducation.wordpress.com/2012/12/11/memory-its-all-good/. I’ve also written about memory in related a post title “Labels on the Brain” – though written for a different purpose, that post also contains some tidbits that can help with memory retention in everyday contexts.

    On a different note entirely, I’m delighted to see such a fan of classical works out here in the blog-o-sphere; Vygotsky and James are two of my favorites too; I fit their ideas in to every class I teach.

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