Effective Learning Skills and Techniques
Effective Learning Skills
Are good grades important to you? I am sure it is, because it is the desire of every student, but sadly not many are successful in this endeavor. Students spend a lot of time reading up books and wading through a bunch of material and at the end of which some feel utterly lost, wondering if any of this effort would lead them to their goals. This article attempts to outline a few techniques which enables learning effective and helps retain what is learnt. Effective learning starts with the desire to excel. You need to be motivated to do what you set out to do.
Get More out of Your Study Time
Preparation for studying is as important as the act of studying itself.
- Make your study time free of external disturbance. Make sure you have shut off all gadgets that could disturb you. Your phones, music, TV etc.
- Mentally and emotionally prepare yourself to be ready to concentrate for the time you have set out as your study time. Speaking to yourself about how you will concentrate helps.
- Plan what you want to study and give yourself sufficient time for job at hand. You need to be realistic about how much you can study in the given time frame. If you try to do more than realistically possible it might work to your detriment.
Different Learning Styles
Each individual is used to a particular style of learning and generally adheres to one method of learning with which he/she is comfortable. This makes learning the process very limited. Effective learning should combine a few styles of learning in order to make the process well rounded. To study effectively all the senses need to be employed, so that concentration is optimal and what has been learned is retained in the long term memory.
There are different learning styles but to keep matters simple I will outline the most widely used methods (terms used are not technical in nature) and how they help.
Visual learning style involves the use of images, pictures, graphs, diagrams and models to assimilate information. What you see is understood and learned. The eyes become the major sensory organ involved in the learning process.
Auditory learning style Here, the learners listen to spoken messages, classroom teaching, music or sounds to assimilate information. The auditory or the listening skill of the individual is employed for learning to take place.
Logical learning style This is a process of derivation of information through logical or mathematical reasoning. This is a very systematic method which depends on logic, reasoning and is a highly individualized process.
Individual learning is where student learns by himself, this includes e-learning.
Group learning where discussion and exchange and become the main basis of learning. Interaction with peers and lively discussions become the central activity.
Sensory learning is where practical handling and manipulation of material causes learning to take place.
Holistic learning is a type of learning where a person gets the idea of the bigger picture and proceeds to fill in the details.
How to make Learning Effective
Effective learning happens when an individual employs one or more of the above mentioned these styles of learning simultaneously. Only visual or auditory learning by themselves are not effective. Employing sensory learning with auditory or visual learning could help retain what has been learnt for a longer time. However, when what is learned is tested or put into practice it is remembered for a longer period of time.In other words your short term memory has been converted to long term memory. When information is processed and stored in long term memory, effective learning has occurred and what has been learned can be used for many years to come.
Combining a method of learning that is dependent on hearing or seeing, with practical application makes the learning effective. In short you hear, see and you do. Derivation method of learning works well when combined with holistic method. Adopting two or more styles of learning helps you effectively harness your potential for learning. Even though you have your own style of learning, it is better to combine two or more styles of learning to complement and supplement your favored method, this enables you to concentrate better and learn well.
Techniques for Better Memory
Acronyms: Using acronyms or one letter for each word of the text that you want to remember. For example, we widely use the acronym VIBGYOR to remember the different colours of the rainbow.
Acrostic: Acrostic is an invented sentence where the first letter of each word is a cue to the word you need to remember. For example, in music notation, to remember the notes for the spaces between the lines, we use the acrostic “All Cows Eat Grass” to remember the notes, A, C, E and G.
Rhyming Words: This is employing rhyming words to remember the set of words that you need to remember. For example, to remember a set of domestic animals like a cat, dog and a cow, we use the rhyme, “Pat the cat, Mog the dog and Wow the cow, lived together with Mr Louse in the house.”
Image technique: For remembering names of people, it would be easier to associate physical characteristics with names. For example, if you want to remember a name like Lionel Messi, think of lions messing around with a football. When you have converted this idea into this image and stored it in your memory, there is no way you could forget this player’s name or the game that he is associated with. (not that Messi is hard to remember, this is just to demonstrate what I am saying)
Linking Technique: To remember a set of terms like erosion, deforestation and urbanisation, we could chain each term meaningfully to the other so that the link makes remembering the items and the order in which they need to be remembered easy, “Soil eroded by the river made the roots come up and the trees fell down providing the timber for buildings.”
Using imagery. A picture speaks a thousand words. Whatever you learn, make mental images of them as you go on, and replay them in your mind. Graphic details stay much longer in your memory. Make them a little comical and there you are learning and having fun too.
Alphabetical lists When you have to remember a set of items, try to remember them in the alphabetical order. As you keep converting them into alphabetical sequence, you will not forget anything when you go through the alphabets to reproduce them from your memory.
Fill in the blanks We have all used this technique quite extensively when we were younger and in smaller classes. This is a very effective method of learning and retaining facts or information in your memory. For example, when you want to remember names or facts, then use a blank. For example, the first president of America is George _________. When you block some keywords from the information which you need to remember and repeat the learning a few times, these words are very easily etched in your memory.
This book come highly recommended as I have personally used it and found it simple and easy to follow.
Result Oriented Learning
- Practice effective reading skills. Effective reading helps you to read through the material, with understanding, purpose, application and helps make you study time highly productive. With good reading skills enable you can venture beyond your text books and widen your knowledge base while making good grades in your exams.
- Learn with understanding. Use a dictionary to find the meanings of words that you do not understand or find explanation for terms that you need to understand before you start learning. It is very important to know what you are learning otherwise, you just commit things to memory like a parrot and this could be so garbled when you need to reproduce it making little or no sense.
- Logic before you memorize. Understanding how things work, putting facts together sequentially and building facts one on the other to make sense out of them causes learning to be effective. Once you have done this, it is easier to memorize and it takes very little time. What is memorized with understanding and a fair amount of learning is retained in the long term memory.
- Memorizing is often done by repetition. Things that are constantly repeated are memorized well, but facts that are understood, learnt and memorized converts what you have learned into super memory
- Repeating the basics often and spending time memorizing basics will never be wasted. You will have your foundation strong and there is no way that you are going to forget this information in a long time to come. Frequent revisions are highly recommended.
- Put into practice what you have learned. Try to apply it in practical ways.
- Teaching others what you have learned will make what you have learned more meaningful and easy to remember.
- Eat healthy foods. Remember that you can feed your brain and power it to maximum potential. Drink at least 2-3 liters of water per day.
- Do not disrupt your sleep patterns, especially during exams. Get sufficient sleep, your brain needs rest to function well.
- Do your best and stop worrying, worry only causes you to forget what you have learned. Relax, when you are tense go out and play a game or get some physical activity so your mind is free from worrying and stress.
- Believe in yourself. Be positive.
Employing these learning techniques will help you commit information from short term memory to long term memory. Too much cramming leads to information overload and inability to reproduce what is learnt from memory accurately.
A good study habit, methodical, planned studying, dedicated study hours and committed effort from the side of the individual are at the core of effective learning. Active listening at college /school and good note taking increases your ability to learning effective. Remember that studying has to be a regular activity in your everyday schedule if you want to learn effectively and put the knowledge that you have accumulated to greater use in your career.
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