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Enhanced recall: Next day first repetition.

June 4, 2009

Yesterday I read about a sigmoid curve of the probabily for recall based on equally spaced study sessions, basically it means that when you learn and relearn using equal periods of time between repetitions, at first you don’t recall and the sundenly you start recalling, and then you almost never forget. I was wondering how does this is related to the algorithms in which SuperMemo is based, for me looks very logical to make small interval at first to improve the posibility of recall. SuperMemo does not adhere to this principle, and many of the first intervals on my collection are spaced from 8 to 14 days. Should a next day, first repetition enhance our recall or even speed up the learning rate?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. LittleFish permalink
    June 4, 2009 22:20

    I’ve thought a lot about this before 😀
    I don’t know about that theory, but I DO know that children always try to see how close they can push their parents to the edge before they get punished. If they can get away with something JUST A BIT, they try to go further than before. I see Supermemo as being like that child when it comes to our memory. If you constantly forgot things, then Supermemo would make sure that you reviewed the information the next day, then three days, etc. But Supermemo isn’t programmed to be content, it is programmed to map your ability to remember “to the extreme.” So if you can remember three days from now, then how about five days? The how about ten days? Sometimes Supermemo puts the first interval at around 20 days or more, but usually that doesn’t work. That’s when the child tries to do something that he simply can’t get away with. But if Supermemo can get away with setting the first interval at 8 or 10 days, and you remember at least 50% of the time, then this will result in a great potential savings of time that can be spent making MORE flashcards that will be remembered just as quickly (It’s funny how it makes a big circle). At first this concerned me, but over time I took the attitude that “If I put it into Supermemo I’ll have it down in a month from now (Unless the flashcard isn’t worded properly), so I’ll just forget about it.” Sometimes it takes time, but I know that I will EVENTUALLY remember everything that I put into it.

    I also try to keep this in mind: Supermemo is to REMEMBER, not to LEARN. I have to know something BEFORE I put it into Supermemo. Right now I have a short-term solution for Chinese words (Because I forget them very quickly) by keeping a separate database for them. Once I feel that I KNOW the word, it goes into my normal Supermemo database (Where it is treated like something I KNOW, not something I WANT TO know).

    • gersapa permalink*
      June 5, 2009 11:55

      I also try to keep this in mind: Supermemo is to REMEMBER, not to LEARN. I have to know something BEFORE I put it into Supermemo. Right now I have a short-term solution for Chinese words (Because I forget them very quickly) by keeping a separate database for them. Once I feel that I KNOW the word, it goes into my normal Supermemo database (Where it is treated like something I KNOW, not something I WANT TO know).

      This looks like great advice. In fact, for those of us concern with the absolute best practices:The I WANT TO KNOW collection should be always adviced.
      Of course I would prefer to have it all in a single collection, maybe in a separate category, where the I WANT TO KNOW items would go. Mainly because its easier and faster to transfer those elements to any other category or folder.
      SM for palm of course is much more functional for this multiple collection processing. If you would make a “I WANT TO TO KNOW” category in the same collection your principal collection, is there any special configuration (options, Forgetting index, priority, dismissed, etc.) you would prefer?.

      By the way I’m also putting much less into my SuperMemo, a lot of information is going into Zotero, and lately I trying using CintaNotes for fast non hierarchical information, specially when reading PDFs articles or books. so far no regrets and much less stress for no making the outstanding repetitions.

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