Are you just cramming or really learning?


In the last few weeks, a lot of students from Tribhuvan University have been cramming and mugging a lot of information to appear in the examinations. This is not a choice but a compulsion for them to adopt this technique because their success and knowledge will be determined by the scores they obtain in the written examinations. Cramming has been foundto be negative study technique which might help to pass the tests or exams in the short long but it has many adverse effects in the long run. Best stated by H.E. Gorst in his book, The Curse of Education, “as long as education is synonymous with cramming on an organized plan, it will continue to produce mediocrity.”

Cramming (Mugging) is trying to learn material with massed repetition within a short time span which is a relatively ineffective study technique if the student’s goal in college is to learn what is being taught. Research on the spacing effect suggests that the study time would be better spent spread out over a longer period. It helps in proper encoding and storage of the information in our memory system which makes it easier to retrieve the information whenever needed with ease and comfort.

The pressure to excel academically has led to cramming behavior among students from school level to higher levels till the university. Cramming is a widely-used study skill performed in preparation of an examination or other performance-based assessment.

In a 2007 study conducted by psychologist Doug Rohrer from University of South Florida, it was determined that last minute studying reduces retention of material and may hinder the learning process in the long term. Additional studies in rote learning, or memorization, have shown that relying solely on memorization techniques reduces the overall retention of information.

Active learning and critical thinking are two methods which emphasize the retention of material through the use of class discussions, study groups and individual thinking. Each has been cited as a more effective means of learning and retaining information as compared to cramming and memorization. Besides these, the alternative to cramming is observational learning, experiential learning, action research and so on. Better than that, if students have to memorize the information, memory aids, mnemonics, mindmapping and other techniques could be helpful.

Are educationists, school teachers and parents paying enough attention to what negative impact cramming can have upon the students’ mind? If not, they are messing up the young minds.

Like I shared my opinions in the previous post, EDUCATION should be: Information — Application — Transformation.

2 thoughts on “Are you just cramming or really learning?

  1. Dear sujen! thanks for the wonderful article that you have shared and definitely i would agree with you and we have to modify the thoughts of the teacher and i ‘m optimistic that that day won’t be longer enough to see to modify in our curriculum.
    Hope to see you in exam.

  2. Dear Rama Didi, thanks for your comment. well, i am also optimistic but just dont know how long it takes to see the changes. I think teachers should act more as facilitators rather than sticking to traditional role of lecture givers. well, our curriculum was just modified after a decade so, not very soon.

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