Learning Efficiency

Are efficient learners of verbal stimuli also efficient and precise learners of visuospatial stimuli?

People differ in how quickly they learn information and how long they remember it, and these two variables are correlated such that people who learn more quickly tend to retain more of the newly learned information. Zerr and colleagues (2018) termed …

Individual differences in learning efficiency

Most research on long-term memory uses an experimental approach whereby participants are assigned to different conditions, and condition means are the measures of interest. This approach has demonstrated repeatedly that conditions that slow the rate of learning tend to improve later retention. A neglected question is whether aggregate findings at the level of the group (i.e., slower learning tends to improve retention) translate to the level of individual people. We identify a discrepancy whereby—across people—slower learning tends to coincide with poorer memory. The positive relation between learning rate (speed of learning) and retention (amount remembered after a delay) across people is referred to as *learning efficiency*. A more efficient learner can acquire information faster and remember more of it over time. We discuss potential characteristics of efficient learners and consider future directions for research.

Learning efficiency: Identifying individual differences in learning rate and retention in healthy adults

People differ in how quickly they learn information and how long they remember it, yet individual differences in learning abilities within healthy adults have been relatively neglected. Across 2 studies (combined *N* = 372) we found that quicker learners were also more durable learners (i.e., exhibited better retention across a delay), despite studying the material for less time.