The positive effect that solid study skills have on academic achievement has been established for years. Having the discipline to make such tools as flash cards and mnemonic devices such as acronyms boosts memory and improves recovery of information over the short and long term.
Taking notes is one skill that seems old-school but engages the memory. Whether the student is writing the notes by hand or typing them into a laptop, the inputting process gives the brain a spatial connection between the student and information. The process of identifying which information is more important helps the brain prioritize the information.
Flash cards and other memory builders force the brain to interact with the information over and over. While recall does not on its own lead to higher-order thinking skills, it gives the student the information he needs to perform higher-order tasks with the information at a later time. It's impossible to think at a high level about information one does not know.
Planning study time in an intentional way is much more effective than simply sitting down to browse through a textbook or some old notes. Rewriting notes in one's own words requires contextual understanding in order to represent the information in a different way.