In the fast-moving world full of new information, everyone needs to know how to learn well. Knowledge is the backbone of progress, it is an important part of life that can lead to a new hobby, a good grade or a better job.
After we leave university, we are expected to learn by ourselves for the rest of our lives. And life-changing events usually require advanced learning techniques. In fact, there is a wide range of methods that can make your learning more effective. You may want to experiment with some of them to decide which work best for you.
Practice testing is among the best ways to learn new information. However, it doesn’t have to be a real test. There are various ways to test yourself everywhere, with anything. You may use flashcards, ask yourself questions in your head and answer them, or solve different problems without the help of textbooks.
Practice testing is very efficient because it increases the ability to mentally structure your knowledge, and by that remember the material more quickly. Moreover, it is extremely simple to implement. Apply this technique to review the necessary information and it will be stored in your long-term memory.
Distributed practice is spreading out the study sessions over time. Instead of learning all the material in one large chunk, divide the learning process into several parts. This will give your brain some time to absorb the information by switching between a concentrated and dispersed way of thinking. And the longer you want to remember the information, the longer the intervals should be. This is a reason why cramming doesn’t work and all the material quickly disappears from the memory.
This technique works across people of different ages, with a wide variety of materials. Try to use distributed practice and practice testing together and you’ll be able to cover any topic you need.
The greatest advantage of self-explanation is that it may be used for almost all topics and subjects. However, in comparison with other methods, it is more time-consuming. This method involves generating reasons to explain new information, or forcing yourself to interpret the text in detail instead of simply reading it over.
When doing self-explanation, it is helpful to write down the questions you want to ask yourself and then write the answers. The process of writing everything down further commits the concepts to memory and allows your brain to organize the significance of the material.
Elaborative interrogation, or asking yourself “why” as you read, is another technique that may help you learn new material. This strategy is very simple to use and doesn’t require any training, but you need to be familiar with a topic to use the method effectively.
When you’re reading, check your understanding of the information by asking yourself questions. Stop once every 1 or 2 pages to make sure that you comprehend the material. You may also use a notebook to write down the question and then practice answering them when you finish reading.
Interleaved practice involves studying the material at hand and applying the previous concepts and topics at the same time. This method may not work in some scenarios but it is a must when learning topics that relate to science or math. This technique also shows great promise when learning the foreign languages.
The practice of going back to previous chapters to find some information will help to refresh the material in mind and gain a greater understanding of what you’re reading about. However, to use this strategy effectively, you need to be sure that you are acquainted with the preceding topics.
You may be wondering why such learning techniques as summarization, highlighting, rereading and mnemonics are not included into the list. In fact, they are proved to be less effective than the study methods mentioned above. Still, you need to find a way to learn the material that is relevant to you.