Retrieval-based Learning

It’s too bad that the word “test” strikes fear and loathing into the hearts of students. Tests are evaluations of your knowledge, and unfortunately are primarily used by teachers to decide whether you have learned enough to get an A or an F, or something in between. Many of you learned to associate a good grade with success, satisfaction, and feeling good about yourself. And you learned that a bad grade was failure and feeling bad about yourself.

That’s because tests are always given at the end, as if it’s the summation after which nothing can happen – no more opportunity to learn or grow, no more opportunity to learn or demonstrate what you’ve learned. The End.

It’s too bad that tests have that impact on you. Because tests are really amazing tools for learning.

compared to rereading, practice tests during study increases likelihood that info will be recalled later.

promotes learning by direct processes active retrieval and transfer

indirect learning – encouraged study, learning from feedback, using to guide future study


Does having students respond to questions during an online lecture improve learning

active retrieval / differentiation

multimedia learning


Time for a Plan


Congratulations on finishing the first week of classes! I’m sure many of you have been reconnecting with old friends, making new ones, planning events, recruiting for student groups, and seeking out many other opportunities.

Stanford activities fair

And how was this first week? Have you finalized your course schedule? Have you started your assignments and planned out how you will pace yourself so do all of your, work, get your papers in, and prep for exams? Well, if you haven’t it’s not too late. Before the rhythm of the quarter picks ups even more, take a moment to prioritize your academics and make a plan for the quarter. Trust me. It will help you remember and be ready for problem sets and assignment due-dates If you tend to procrastinate, mapping out the quarter can help. (Here’s some more advice on managing procrastination.)

Check out our Quarter at a Glance (Fall 2015-2016)

A lot of you may have just returned from the Activities Fair, and whether you were exploring or promoting student organizations, clubs, and communities, don’t forget about the time commitment those will involve, and the time you’ll need for your classes (and the studying and work that comes with it).

There are so many opportunities available to you through Stanford, but you may not be able to do all the things you want and need to do throughout your time here. But it can be done! Check out some our tools that you can use yourself, or if you need some 1-on-1 time, you can come see an academic skills coach!

The Start of the Something New: Get Involved

Stanford "S" with tree

Class of 2019 and Transfer students, congratulations for successfully THRIVING (not surviving) at your NSO!

Now it’s week 1, and whether you are a new or returning student, the 2015-2016 school year is new to all of us. This really is the start of something new. It is a start to a new beginning, a new experience, and a new opportunity to experiment, take risks, mess up, and learn!

Get involved

As a recent Stanford grad (’15), one of my tips for this first week of fall quarter is to get out there and get involved, and I’m not just talking about activities. According to Astin’s theory of student involvement, student learning and personal development are directly proportional to the quality and quantity of student involvement, emphasis on QUALITY (though I de-emphasize quantity since most people around here take on way too much).

Quality over quantity

The quality of opportunities available to you are pretty sweet, but make sure that your effort to learn and get involved is also quality. That means, don’t just sign up for 1000 different mailing lists for student clubs or just show up at your classes. Consider the quality of your involvement.

  • Show up early to class and get to know the your fellow classmates and your instructor. Don’t just show up. Introduce yourself to people and talk. You might be a little afraid, but people are pretty friendly.

  • Talk to someone who hands you a flier or when you pass by an informational booth. Get to know what it is you are trying to be recruited for, and ask questions. Who knows? One opportunity could introduce you to an unknown passion or lead you into some other surprisingly wonderful opportunity.

For most students, quantity of getting involved isn’t a problem. You will quickly discover that the quarter zooms by quickly, and managing your time will be a challenge. At the same time, hiding in your room ONLY doing work is not great either. You were admitted here because Stanford believes you can make a difference not just in your own life, but in the life of others. It won’t happen in a day, but opportunities are everywhere if your eyes are open.

Enough talk. Go out there and get involved.

Fun events I recommend attending this week:

  • O Show on Monday, September 21, 2015 at 8pm in Memorial Auditorium: Check out Stanford’s 9 a cappella groups! You can find me there too :)
  • Activities Fair on Friday, September 25, 2015 at 12-4pm in White Plaza: It’s epic. Just go.

Ready, Set, Go for NSO!

Stanford "S" with tree

It’s almost time…

In less than 48 hours, our campus will welcome you, the Stanford Class of ’19 and transfer students. Our advice: get some sleep, stay hydrated, and enjoy your last few days at home. Get ready for your parents to cry. Get ready to cry yourself. Going to college is a big deal

.Welcome Stanford

You will be inundated with new faces, places, names, info, resources, and some of you will drink it in. Others will kind of sputter at the sheer intensity of it all. However you react, there are at least 50 other people having the same reaction. Your job during NSO is to keep your ears and eyes open, meet people, and begin to connect with all things Stanford.

A note about placement tests

If you plan on taking any placement exams, please keep one thing in mind. You’ve been accepted, and nothing that happens as a result of your placement exams will change that. So breathe, focus, and try and enjoy the new challenges.


As you shift from pre-student to actual student, here are some handouts you might find, well, handy.

Want more great study tips? Come to the Active Learning Strategies Workshops during NSO at 2:15 and 4:15.

Welcome to Stanford!
We can’t wait to see you in two short days.