Best Practice Flashcards

Staff Writer
Apr 27, 2022

For having such a flashy name, the humble flashcard is far from the most exciting part of a healthcare student’s study routine.

For many, the flashcard makes us think of our awkward middle school years, inking geography or biology words and definitions on the front and back of white index cards. It’s hard to turn that less-than-favorable impression around, but the truth is flashcards are effective.

Why Flashcards Work

Flashcards tap into “active recall.” Active recall happens when you try to remember a concept from scratch, as opposed to starting at a paragraph in a book or looking at a range of choices from a multiple choice quiz. Active recall has been proven to create stronger neuron connections for that memory trace.

Flashcards also exercise your metacognitive faculties. When you flip the flashcard over to show the answer, you are comparing your answer to a correct answer; this is an act of self-recognition known as metacognition. Research has shown metacognition tends to ingrain memories deeper into your knowledge.

The repetition of flashcards creates confidence. When you’re empowered to decide which concepts you know best, you can put those flashcards away to focus on the harder concepts, and take control of your learning.

Related resource: 10 Tips for Creating Your Ideal Study Space

Digital Flashcard Options

If you’d like a digital version, there are many ingenious digital flashcard apps that let students create and customize their own flashcards. Here are the best (free!) flashcards we’ve found for students to use on their iPhone and/or Android smartphones.

This free app for iPhone and Android lets you do the following:

  • Create flashcards and remove the ones you learn from the deck.
  • Add images.
  • Browse flashcard decks other students have made.

Quizlet is another free app available on both platforms. Its features include the following:

  • Create flashcards.
  • Use decks created by other students and teachers.
  • Images and audio available.
  • Offline access.
  • Timed speed game mode.
  • Share decks with others.
  • Listen to pronunciations when you’re learning foreign languages.

StudyBlue is a crowd-funded flashcard app that lets you pick from thousands of subjects, including math and science, vocabulary, and medical. The app also includes the following features:

  • Create flashcards.
  • Use decks created by others.
  • Images available.
  • Share decks with others.
  • Create and share class notes.

Cram has a wide selection of subjects and tons of flashcards uploaded by other users. The design is one of the most user-friendly of the bunch, too! You can find the following on Cram:

  • Create flashcards.
  • Share decks with others.
  • Web-based.
  • Available via app or desktop PC.
  • Available in different languages.

Part of an education in healthcare involves memorization. Even if this isn’t your favorite way of learning, it’s easier than ever with so many resources available.

At Joyce, we care deeply for our students’ success. Our holistic education, dedicated teachers and staff, and cutting-edge curriculum are all in place to support new healthcare professionals. Learn more about our nursing, occupational therapy assistant programs.


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