Language learning app Memrise has announced the winner of its first Memprize: a competition to find the world's most efficient vocabulary learning technique. The team from Radboud University and Radboudumc was crowned victorious following more than a year of in-depth real-life empirical experiments, involving more than 10,000 participants.
The task of the international competition was simple: find a way in which participants can learn the meaning of 80 words as effectively as possible, within one hour. The winning learning method, developed by a research team from Radboud University and the Radboudumc, was based on a clever combination of techniques and strategies based on research into memory and learning. Data were collected at the Donders Institute for Brain and Cognition and the Behavioural Science Institute of Radboud University, but some team members currently work at different research institutes around the world.
Most effective and most enjoyable method
Overall, the winning method more than doubled memory performance compared to the standard technique of repeated study. The method combined adaptive retrieval practice, where the hardest words to remember were presented more often, and an introduction to mental imagery. A unique feature of the program: volunteers were asked to imagine the words in certain rooms so that they could later practice recalling the words by room. Besides being the most effective, participants also found the winning method to be the most enjoyable of all submissions. All data and findings from the project will shortly be made publicly available on www.memprize.com and will be described in a joint scientific article of all researchers involved in the competition.
Enabling smarter study choices
The Memprize consists of 10,000 USD, which will be shared by the team. "We're delighted to have won the first Memprize," says Gesa van den Broek, PhD candidate at Radboud University's Behavioural Science Institute and Memprize project lead. "This was a fascinating project for our team, which allowed us to combine our different research backgrounds. Our hope is that these results will raise awareness around key findings from the learning sciences. Learners who understand basic workings of memory, for example, can make smarter study choices. Therefore, it will be great to see the ideas collected in this project inspire the development of effective learning apps, a process that the team would be interested in being involved in."
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