My research applies principles from cognitive psychology to education. What study strategies should students adopt when studying on their own? What techniques can we use in the classroom to help students learn in optimal ways? How can effective study strategies be best combined to maximise both engagement and learning?
I am particularly interested in the benefits and costs of testing: Taking a test is not just a useful way of diagnosing what we do and do not know, it actually changes the memory representation. In many cases, testing enhances memory for tested material and for material learned following a test but it can also have detrimental effects, as in the phenomena of retrieval induced forgetting (e.g., Potts et al., 2012) and retrieval impaired new learning (e.g., Finn & Roediger, 2013). My research explores topics such as the effect on memory of making errors during learning, and the best way to insert tests into lectures or text materials to maximise learning. I also explore metacognition, i.e., how people think about their learning, which is often at odds with their actual performance, and look at ways of helping people become better at monitoring and controlling their learning so they can identify and adopt the most effective study strategies.
I’ve recently been collaborating with online learning company Memrise. Together we ran a massive online experiment with over 4000 Memrise users as participants, exploring optimal ways of combining a variety of study strategies, including testing, imagery and mnemonics.
You can watch me talking about the Memrise project here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FnS8DG-0ASs
Meet the researcher
Dr. Rosalind Potts is a researcher and Associate Professor (Teaching) at UCL based in Chandler House. Her area of interest is learning and memory, and her research aims to identify the conditions which make learning most effective.
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