American scientists proved that the way most students study isn’t effective. Psychologists from Washington University in St. Louise had been learning this question for many years and then even published a book “Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning”. In this article we`re are going to look through the main points the authors are talking about and then you can read the whole book.
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“Study hard, for the well is deep, and our brains are shallow.”
― Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor
#1 Just Re-Reading the Material Doesn`t Work
The main strategy of almost all the students in learning the new material is to re-read and re-read again. But the researches show it is not an effective way of learning at all. That can be proved by the example of one phrase: there is no difference in depth of knowledge between the students who read it and those who re-read some more times.
While reading a text for the first time, you derive the information, you make your mind work to understand the content. But then reading it the second time, your mind becomes like a little bit lazier and says to your subconscious: “You know this, you know that. There is no need to feel the text again.” So you do not pick more out of it.
#2 Ask Yourself Questions
No by chance all the textbooks have the control questions after the chapters because one of the good techniques after reading the material is to quiz yourself. You can use those special questions from the textbook or make your own ones.
Getting the answers produces strong learning and memory. Even if you cannot answer the question or it’s wrong, you will know where there are gaps in your knowledge and what you should repeat.
#3 Make Associations with What You Have Already Read
If you still wanna re-read your texts, then do it correctly: during the second reading connect the main ideas from the text to something you already know, something that seems similar to the objects and processes you are reading about. All the difficult things can be explained in simple and live examples. Try to analyze what you read and connect with your previous knowledge.
#4 Use Flashcards
Testing yourself on the flashcards is one of the good learning strategies. Seems like everybody knows about that and there is nothing to add to it. But one point should be mentioned and asked for: don’t take out of the deck the flashcards you answered right. Practice with both ones you made incorrect and with the successful. Repetition is not bad as a whole, blindfold repetition is bad.
#5 Introduce Visual Forms of Information
Making the notes in your workbook, don’t just write the info down in the form of plain text. Include the diagrams, visual forms, spreadsheets and flowcharts, use markers to emphasize the main points and divide the material. Anything produced with creative contribution remains in your memory for a longer time.
#6 Don’t Make Studying Process an Instant Action
Do you know that feeling like you’ve forgotten everything from the previous semester when coming after the holidays? That’s exactly due to cramming. Students like to do everything at the last moment or the night before. They try to learn lots of information for a short period of time. Yes, it makes sense for tomorrow’s test, but no longer. Studying in such a way will never give you long term knowledge.
So, to correct this mistake, organize your practice time smartly; work with flashcards every other day. Make studying a process that will give you experience, but not the instant action in a stressful condition.