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Misconceptions about how students learn

Think for Yourself

Otherwise known as “How to study hard and still fail”

We’ve all come across the student who works hard in class and puts in the hours at night doing homework but never quite does well in class tests. Or perhaps it’s the student who does ok in class tests but then bombs the end-of-term exam and can’t understand why. The following may help in this regard.

Rate the following study techniques on a scale of 1 – 5 for effectiveness (5 being the most effective)

1.      Highlighting important material

2.      Writing out notes from a textbook or copying from teachers’ notes

3.      Reading over material covered in class

4.      Testing yourself

5.      Looking at mindmaps

6.      Creating mindmaps

7.      Making flashcards

8.      Testing yourself using flashcards

9.      Cramming the night before the exam

We’ll come back to these in a minute…

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10 Rules of Good Studying

Excerpted from A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel in Math and Science (Even if You Flunked Algebra), by Barbara Oakley, Penguin, July, 2014

1. Use recall. After you read a page, look away and recall the main ideas. Highlight very little, and never highlight anything you haven’t put in your mind first by recalling. Try recalling main ideas when you are walking to class or in a different room from where you originally learned it. An ability to recall—to generate the ideas from inside yourself—is one of the key indicators of good learning.

2. Test yourself. On everything. All the time. Flash cards are your friend.

3. Chunk your problems. Chunking is understanding and practicing with a problem solution so that it can all come to mind in a flash. After you solve a problem, rehearse it. Make sure you can solve it cold—every step. Pretend it’s a song and learn to play it over and over again in your mind, so the information combines into one smooth chunk you can pull up whenever you want.

4. Space your repetition. Spread out your learning in any subject a little every day, just like an athlete. Your brain is like a muscle—it can handle only a limited amount of exercise on one subject at a time.

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