SAFMEDS

What is SAFMEDS?

SAFMEDS stands for Say All Fast a Minute Every Day Shuffled. It is a technique or instructional tool that is part of precsion teaching. Precision teaching was developed by the American psychologist Ogden Lindsley in the 1960s and is based on B. F. Skinner's theory of operant conditioning.

The SAFMEDS page on the Precision Teaching Hub and Wiki contains a table that details how SAFMEDS differs from the traditional way of using flash cards in several respects. This table is reproduced below, but, since the comparison assumes a non-optimal use of flashcards, some notes have been added to bring the description of flashcards up to date with more recent guidelines.

SAFMEDS Flashcards
Made by the instructor or the learner, but preferably by the learner. Made by the learner or bought ready-made. (Note: Gabriel Wyner insists that flaschards should be made by the learner.)
Size: business card or ready-made file cards. Size: typically ready-made file cards. (Note: Size is irrelevant in a spaced repetition system such as Anki.)
The entire set is available from the start. (Note: It is not clear how this can be achieved if the learners make their own cards.) Only a partial set is available, unless the flash cards are bought ready-made. (Note: It is not clear why this would be a weakness. Since learning vocabulary that has not been seen in the context of sentences is neither effective nor useful, it is normal that the card deck would grow as one progresses through a course.)
The learner works on the entire deck. The learner works on the current topic or subset. (Note: According to whom?)
The response is said aloud. The response is thought or said. (Note: Nothing prevents the learner from saying or even writing the response. Writing down the response can be useful when learning a new writing system such as Chinese characters.)
Practice is timed. Practice is untimed.
Focus in on speed as well as accuracy. Focus is on accuracy.
The learner should practise at least daily. Learners typically practise sporadically or to review for a test. (Note: Pimsleur (1980:76-77) already pointed out the importance of daily practice and the use of “graduated interval recall”. Leitner (1972) also devised a system involving daily practice (see Kleinschroth, 1992: 116-121).
The cards are shuffled before each timing. Note: The card order depends on the spaced repetition algorithm applied to the cards; with pen-and-paper flash cards, there is typically no additional shuffling.
Both correct and incorrect responses are charted. (See standard celeration chart.) Responses are usually not charted. (Note: A spaced repetition algorithm uses the correct or incorrect response to determine when a card should be presented again.)

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