Although retrieval practice and spaced learning may be more well-known, elaboration is an instructional strategy worth our attention. Elaboration strategies refer to the many ways of connecting prior knowledge to what someone has newly learned. This has the potential to make the new material more memorable and meaningful.
We all know that new learning requires a foundation of prior knowledge. Elaboration techniques give people opportunities to make the connections stronger. In the book Make It Stick, the authors write, “The more you can explain about the way your new learning relates to your prior knowledge, the stronger your grasp of the new learning will be, and the more connections you create that will help you remember it later.” (Listen to my conversation with one of the authors of Make It Stick.)
Elaboration strategies are based on well-known (though not always agreed upon) theories of learning.