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Enhance Your Intellectual Performance

Updated on October 6, 2015

Introduction

This article explores ways to improve comprehension and retention of material through a variety of suggestions. As well as the addition of memory tools and other learning aids to assist you in comprehending and understanding new material. Concepts explored include sheduling, and ways to enhance reading comprehension. Importance and results of distributed practice and active engagement and Mnemonics devices. The agenda and subsections are as follows:

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Agenda

This article looks at proven ways to enhance academic performance. Concepts explored are broken into three sections.

First: Enhance your understanding:

  • How to avoid cramming; and
  • Improving reading comprehension.

Second: Retaining The Information:

  • Rehearsal;
  • Distributed practice; and
  • Importance of active engagement.

Third: Tools to Help You Succeed:

  • Using available learning aids; and
  • Mnemonics devices.

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1: Enhance Your Understanding

How to Avoid Cramming?

To avoid cramming you should realistically break assessments into more manageable chunks, and keep a “written schedule [as it] serves as a reminder and increases your commitment to follow it (Weiten, 2014, p. 23)”. Another noticeable advantage of keeping a schedule is the ability to plan ahead and minimise environmental distractions such as background noise. As well as the ability to apply reinforcement techniques by rewarding yourself for completing study goals resulting in behavioural modification and overall sustained motivation.

Improving Reading Comprehension

Improving reading comprehension is another important topic. It is important to examine ways to improve concentration in order to increase comprehension and subsequent retention. Active processing and highlighting are suggested to be effective. Research supports the use of highlighters implying they foster active reading comprehension and reduce material to review when used effectively. Highlighting effectively involves, focusing on the main ideas, key supporting details/technical terms and identifying the paragraph purpose using only one to two sentences.

2: Retain The Information

Rehearsal

Retention is improved by rehearsal because it aids in the transference of information to long term memory. Although few are aware that the value of testing stems from forced memory retrieval regardless of success, entitled the “testing effect” testing enhances retention and results significantly compared to equal time study. Also enhanced significantly by feedback, positive and negative alike.

Distributed Practice

Distributed practice is advised as effective and backed by experimental research showing a positive correlation between the retention interval and distributed practice. The suggested time between studying is spacing over 24hours. It is also advised to study only relevant material up to 24hours before a test, otherwise study relevant material last. Minimising interference is important, shown by cross subject retention interference as a common cause of forgetfulness.

Importance of Active Engagment

Research shows the depth of engagement in course work is more important than the amount of time spent studying when it comes to comprehension, thus applying personal meaning to information reduces material revision by increasing analysis. Outlining and hierarchical organisation are also suggested to improve organisational skills, not only promoting retention but enhancing it as well.

3: Tools To Help You Succeed

Using Available Learning Aids

Weiten also suggests taking advantage of learning aids such as chapter outlines and learning goals to identifying key areas, condense and reviewing your material. In the context of students, to assure comprehension of material you must maintain consistent attendance, motivation, attention and effort in an attempt to reflect a positive attitude toward your study. Suggestions for improving lecture note taking include reading ahead and active listening to anticipate questions and organisation based on your identification of key points. It is also important to ask questions to for clarification.

Mnemonic devices

Mnemonic devices including verbal and visual techniques where “designed to make material more meaningful" (Weiten, 2014, p. 242).

Verbal Mnemonics

Verbal mnemonics include Acronyms and Acrostics. Acronyms use individual letters as memory clues formed into words for easy retrieval. Acrostics follow a similar concept but use only the first letter of individual words used to form a phrase or poem.

Visual Mnemonics

Visual mnemonics include the Link Method as well as the method of loci. Similarly using mental imagery, “The Link Method involves forming a mental image of items to be remembered in a way that links them together (Weiten, 2014, p. 242)” and the method of loci involves forming a mental image of items to be remembered by associating an object with a location. Studies suggest this method enhances correct order recall.

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Summary

This article has outlined numerous ways in which you can improve your academic performance by making small changes to your existing routine. It also demonstrated that scheduling study over longer periods is better for long-term retention than constantly going over a subject. Ways to enhance your understanding of material were explored. Retaining the information was examined, and tools that can assist you to more easily retain information are also shown. This combined with your own understanding of what works for you will allow you to explore and expand your individual, innate intellectual capabilities.

Audience Opinion Poll

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Closing Comments

As always, I hope this article has brought you as much joy reading it as it did me writing it. But most of all I hope it has allowed you to find some techniques that you can apply to your life to improve your academic performance or simply to enhance your personal interests. Thankyou for reading and have a wonderful day.

Audience Opinion Poll

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References

Weiten, W. (2014). Psychology, Themes And Variation (Vol. 9E). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

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