Academic Horizons

Inspiring Success

research-based, developmentally appropriate, grounded in best teaching practices

delivered in a supportive, encouraging learning environment proven to boost confidence

based on customized individual learning plans, tailored to the student's unique learning needs and education goals

aligned vertically and horizontally with the classroom teacher's curriculum to provide a supportive, cohesive learning experience

promote the development of active learning and study strategies


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One on One Private Math and Science Tutoring  in South Surrey / White Rock BC

Teaching Students to Embrace Mistakes
In the last few decades, researchers have discovered a lot about how people become experts. The main idea, made popular by everyone from author Malcolm Gladwell to rapper Macklemore, is the 10,000-hour rule. Ten thousand is the number of hours it takes to become an expert in almost any field.

The most important part of that research is not how much practice someone needs to perform, but what kind of practice. Specifically, deliberate practice, which involves identifying and isolating what's not working, and then mastering the difficult area before moving on,

Picture a classical violinist rehearsing. He or she would not play a new piece start-to-finish, fudging through tricky sections. That musician stops in trouble spots, figures them out, and then plays that measure over and over again, and only moves on when it's perfect.

The same principle applies to schoolwork.

Mistakes are the most important thing that happens during the learning process. They tell you where to focus deliberate practice.

So why don't students view their mistakes as a valuable asset?

Well, students don't think about their mistakes rationally -- they think about them emotionally.

Mistakes make students feel stupid. But feeling stupid is just that: a feeling. Specifically, it's the feeling of shame, and our natural response is to avoid its source. If we say something embarrassing, we hide our face. If we get a bad grade, we hide the test away.

Because shame is attached to mistakes, students are afraid to take chances, explore, and think for themselves.

Unsurprisingly, that's the worst move to make if you ever want to get better.

Academic success does not come from how smart or motivated students are. It comes from how they feel about their mistakes.

Changing a student's perspective on mistakes is the greatest gift we can give to a student.

Instead of seeing failures as a reason to give up, student must view them as helpful, learn from them and take them as a key to improvement.

The feedback we get from our mistakes can be the most specific, pointed, and powerful feedback we’ll ever get.

It's a mistake to think of mistakes as something bad. When mistakes become learning opportunities, everything changes

Credit: Hunter Maats and Katie O'Brien

Figure 2: Overcoming the Forgetting Curve  (University Waterloo)

While forgetting depends on many factors, cognitive science research shows that, on average, students forget 70 percent within 24 hours of a lecture or lesson. 

Memory and Learning

Practice Tests and Distributed Review as Learning Tools

The second most powerful learning strategy is  retrieval practice, or "test-enhanced learning."  This involves the use of practice tests and periodic "self-check quizzes" as an effective way to enhance learning and retention.

Compared to popular study techniques such as re-reading, highlighting, and underlining notes, taking practice tests, or "test enhanced learning" is more effective for long-term retention because it involves the processes of active retrieval of concepts and information from long-term memory.

Recent evidence also suggests that practice testing reinforces learning by improving the ability of students to mentally organize their knowledge and understanding, thereby increasing the speed and efficiency of the  retrieval process. In addition to reducing forgetting, test-taking also identifies what needs further study and also has shown to help students apply what they have learned.  

21st Century

Teaching and


How Can We Retain More?

According to recent educational research, one of the most most powerful learning enhancement and retention techniques is distributed practice.

Regular, distributed or spaced practice over time improves learning, both long-term retention of information, and the ability to apply this learning to new situations

The timing of the review is critical - to be effective, review must take place soon after the original learning event, and then, in spaced intervals afterwards, as shown in the illustration below. Notice how, with interleaving practice, less is forgotten after each review. 

Figure 1 below illustrates how information is lost exponentially over time when there is no attempt to retain it. 

The Power of Mind Mapping


However, while frequent review (distributed practice) and taking practice tests increase retention, it is important to deepen understanding and cement new learning by focusing on creating relevant, meaningful connections between new information and what you already know and understand.

One of the very best "brain-friendly" methods to optimize understanding of how ideas and concepts are connected is "Mind Mapping."

At Academic Horizons, we help students to develop the ability and habit to effectively use combinations of all proven, research-based active learning and studying strategies in order to maximize learning and achievement.

These include:

  • Active Reading using SQ3R Method
  • Cornell notes 
  • Mind Mapping 
  • Distributed Practice 
  • Retrieval Practice 
  • Time Management (Study Schedules)

 What is the SQ3R Active Reading Strategy?

How to Take Cornell Notes

How to FOLLOW a Study Schedule

Future of Learning

How the Brain Learns and Remembers

 What is the Retrieval Practice?