Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Interesting research on effective Study Habits

Here's the story.

1. Vary the location where you study. The associative nature of memory works better in more dynamic/changing environments.
1a. Break up the times when you study. 2-3 hours over several days are better than 2-3 hours in one sitting.
2. Study multiple but related material together (rather than intensely studying one topic)
3. Test yourself. Learning and Recalling seem to reinforce each other. Just looking at notes over and over isn't the same as studying notes and then forcing yourself to retrieve answers with quiz questions.

I found this particularly interesting - there's apparently very little support for the idea of "learning styles." Quote from article:

Take the notion that children have specific learning styles, that some are “visual learners” and others are auditory; some are “left-brain” students, others “right-brain.” In a recent review of the relevant research, published in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest, a team of psychologists found almost zero support for such ideas. “The contrast between the enormous popularity of the learning-styles approach within education and the lack of credible evidence for its utility is, in our opinion, striking and disturbing,” the researchers concluded.

One final thought: Have you noticed how sometimes it's very hard to accomplish a task on a given day no matter how hard you work at it (maybe something at work, or a guitar run, or a certain hurdle in a video game)? But if you take a break - maybe even sleep on it - then the next day it becomes much easier to do? Isn't that what they're suggesting above? Break up you study time - give your brain opportunity to digest what's learned - test yourself by trying again. (I personally find sleeping on an idea is very good for clarification - but they don't seem to outright suggest sleep between learning as a part of study schedule).

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