I’m guessing at some point during your childhood, you learned something via flash cards. You practiced sight words with your mom. You did the multiplication tables in small groups in fourth grade. There was something inherently satisfying in seeing the ‘learned’ stack grow larger and the ‘not yet’ stack get smaller and smaller.
Along the way, you may have given up the flash card habit, but I’m urging you to pick it back up. For courses with an overwhelming amount of vocabulary and factual information, flash cards can be a convenient and mobile way to learn.
You can get them ready-made (in card format as well as online), but you can also make them yourself, tailoring them to your own needs.
What are the advantages of flash cards?
- Obviously, they are portable. You can carry them around and study whenever you have a few minutes: in line at Starbucks, the doctor’s waiting room, even in the hallway before class starts.
- Students often study by reading over chapters and notes again and again, but that can be passive and rarely result in learning the material. Flash cards force you to be more active.
- Flash cards are like little mini-quizzes that allow you to monitor your progress.
- Once you get the basics down, you can use your cards for higher level learning. For example, I’m taking French. Once I learn my vocabulary cards, I can start over. For each card now, instead of defining the term, I can make up a sentence with each one. Or in nursing, I could take each symptom on the card and decide what would be my first action with a patient.
In any case, whether you go old-school (index cards) or high tech (there’s an app for that) flash cards can be useful in learning!