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The Science Of Learning: How To Study, Understand, And Remember All You Read - Education - Nairaland

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The Science Of Learning: How To Study, Understand, And Remember All You Read by DarkRebel69: 7:51am On Oct 26, 2017
[PART 1 OF 3]


The Science of Learning: How to study, how to understand, and how to remember all you read



Whether you are a student looking to give your GPA that quantum boost; whether you are a professional seeking to get the most out of the books you read; whether you're an OCKG (Obessesive-compulsive knowledge-gatherer); or whether you're just a good citizen of the planet looking to maximize your learning/studying experience, then this exposition, which is firmly grounded in the time-tested science of educational psychology, has been written to cater for your learning needs.

The problem with our schools,—and to bring it home—the problem with the entire Nigerian education system, as has been observed by myself and many others, is that in school we are taught what to learn but we are almost never taught how to learn what it is that we have to learn, leaving many of us squirming in the throes of bland rote memorization. (Which, if you don't already know, is the poorest, most unimaginative, most time-consuming, and most ineffective method of learning.)

That is why meta-learning (the awareness and understanding of the phenomenon of learning) is essential to master before even getting down to the actual learning process. (If you don't even know how to start a fire, then why bother gathering firewood?)

Let us begin by defining what learning is:-

Learning is, according to Wikipedia, "the process of acquiring new or modifying existing knowledge, behaviours, skills, values, or preferences".

Before you fall guilty of anthropocentricity, see what Wikipedia further said:- "The ability to learn is possessed by humans, animals, and some machines". It doesn't end there, Wikipedia also had this to say:- "There is also evidence for some kind of learning in some plants".

And, for all you adherents of John Locke who believe that we are born as clean wax tablets, research has shown that learning begins even before birth, so a newborn is not necessarily impression-free. Of course, a foetus would not learn to solve quadratic equations while it's curled up in its mother's womb. Rather, the form of learning which takes places prenatally is known as "habituation" (This has been observed to occur as early as 32 weeks into gestation.)

Now that we have established the definition of learning, and also learned that even machines are capable of learning to some extent, let us now try to understand the things that fuel learning (in humans)—that will to power that propels a person to learn a new language, or to learn to play the violin, or to learn to write a computer code.

Consider these two scenarios:

Scenario 1: Garfield loves Maria for her intelligence. He knows it's pointless but his feelings nonetheless have taken a romantic turn. The major glitch however is that Maria speaks and understands only Croatian, while Garfield speaks and understands only English. In order to impress Maria, Garfield sets out determined on a quest to learn Croatian.

Scenario 2: Kunle was driving one day when he came across a purple gorilla riding a bicycle. Kunle was impressed by this unusual sight and has dedicated the remainder of his life to understanding everything about bicycle-riding purple gorillas.

Those two scenarios mirror the two major things that drive learning in humans. In Scenario 1, we see "motivation" playing a role in Garfield's desire to learn Croatian (romantic motivation in this case). And in Scenario 2, we can very clearly see the inalienable factor of "curiosity" playing a critical role in Kunle's wanting to learn about purple King Kongs. (You might not have been told, but before curiosity killed the cat, it first made it more knowledgeable.)

Motivation and curiosity are primarily what drives humans to want to learn. Besides, if man as a creature were incapable of learning, then the entire human race would have long gone into extinction. If we were incapable of learning or incapable of forming long-term memory impressions, then we wouldn't even remember that playing with fire is dangerous, or that snakes have poisonous venom, or that a scorpion's sting could prove fatal. Even if we as a species somehow managed to beat natural selection and did not go extinct, then we would very likely be at the bottom of the food chain. (Therefore, even at the evolutionary level, learning is necessary for survival.)


For the remainder of the article, we would touch on these two things in detail:

1) How to maximise your learning/studying (Conditions to have in place)

2) How to study, understand, and remember all you read



P.S.: In order to avoid generalizing to a fault, the other two units have been tailored to cater specifically to the learning needs of university/polytechnic students. But in practice, the principles are generally applicable to everyone.

Subsequently, too, the word "learn" will be interchanged with "study", since in the other two units we would treat the phenomenon of learning purely in the academic/scholarly sense.

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Re: The Science Of Learning: How To Study, Understand, And Remember All You Read by DarkRebel69: 7:53am On Oct 26, 2017
PART 2 OF 3]

How to Maximize Your Learning/Studying (Conditions to have in place)


In this unit we shall expound on these six conditions which must be considered and satisfied before getting down to study:-

1) Time management/structure

2) Motivation/curiosity

3) Attention

4) Circadian rhythm/conducive environment

5) Emotional equilibrium

6) Goal(s)


1) Time management/structure:

"I wasted time, and now doth time waste me/
For now hath time made me his numbering clock/"


The lines above are excerpts from the play "King Richard II" by William Shakespeare. The play is said to have been written sometime around 1595, and even though 422 years have elapsed since Shakespeare first put down those ingenious lines of drama, they still remain very relevant today (perhaps even more relevant today seeing as 16th century England did not have to grapple with social media and technology in all its guises—both of which by the way are one of the major time-consumers of the 21st century).

Typically, an academic semester comprises of six months, which is further split into three months apiece. It goes without saying that a student with good time management skills would have begun his studying way long before examinations (from the very start of the semester), so that by the time his exams are only one or two weeks away, he would merely be revising the learned material rather than reading his lecture notes or textbooks for the first time.

Another benefit of good time management is "Distributed learning/spacing".

Distributed learning or Spaced Learning, simply put, is when learning is split into minutes, hours, days, or even months, rather than done in one concentrated dose. For instance, if you were given a material to learn today and on which you would be tested the following day, and let's say you have 3 hours to learn that material, it would be best if you divided the 3 hours and studied for one hour per study session. After every one hour, take a short break (Pomodoro technique), or go do something unrelated to the study task at hand before coming back to complete your study. (With your attention and mental/physical energy re-vitalized.)

Distributed learning is the most productive and stress-free learning technique, which more than any other learning method guarantees long-term dividends, especially when it's accompanied with spaced repetition (we would touch on this later).
Distributed learning is also the one of the most natural way of learning since the time lapses give the brain ample time to form neural connections between the newly acquired information.

This is what distributed learning entails and, sadly, a student incapable of managing time properly would not be able to leverage distributed learning to his or her advantage.

(Mr. Ayodele Dada, the UNILAG psychology graduate who set the Internet on fire when he graduated with a perfect CGPA of 5.0, attributed the bulk of his success to "distributed learning/spacing".)

These are some ways of improving on time management: (a) Improve on self-discipline (b) Create and strictly abide by a study/school timetable (c) Avoid procrastination

b]2) Motivation/curiosity:[/b]

To maintain a sustained interest in what you have to study, to understand what you have to study, or to even be capable of offhandedly recalling what you have studied, then you must either be motivated to learn it or must be curious enough about it.

There would be instances when a certain course, topic, or even a lecturer's style of teaching stretches the boundaries of boredom, but even so there are myriad ways of inducing interest so as to facilitate learning. One of the simplest way to induce interest is to literally bury yourself in the course/topic. This can be done by reading extensively on it (not your school notes this time around), by watching YouTube videos that talk about the topic, by listening to several podcasts, and/or by asking an expert or a fellow student to break it down and explain in layman's terms. The idea is to bombard all your five senses with the "boring material" using all the mediums available to you. By steeping yourself in the genius loci of that which is to be learned, the otherwise "boring" and unfamiliar material would likely become interesting and familiar.

3) Attention:

An attentive mind is a present mind, and a present mind is a powerful mind, and also one that is likely to better understand and better retain whatever it learns.

William James—Father of Modern Psychology—once said that the sort of education that teaches a student to take charge of his wandering mind is an education par excellence. Samuel Johnson (English writer) also stressed on the importance of attention when he declared that:- "The art of memory is the art of paying attention"

For students who crave a fruitful study session, you are to approach every study session with 100% attention (It's non-negotiable). In fact, it has been proven that attention, that mindfulness, and that by being whole-heartedly attuned to whatever it is you are doing, increases productivity and slows down the rate of mental fatigue. Being attentive is also said to improve wisdom and problem-solving capacity.

Understand this, the brain is not built to multi-task, so your attention should never be divided when studying. This is the time you should also consider putting your phone in airplane mode and screening out both internal and external distractions. (Ensure that you are neither hungry nor dehydrated, as hunger and thirst are one of the major causes of internal distraction.)

A way of enhancing attentiveness is by practicing mindfulness meditation i.e a brief moment of physical and mental silence wherein you direct the flow of your thoughts and constantly bring back your wandering mind to the present moment (trust me, your mind will definitely wander).

10-15 minutes of meditation before every study session is enough to yield a bountiful study harvest. And its cognitive benefits are scientifically well accounted for as well.


4) Circadian rhythm/conducive environment:

Circadian rhythm basically means the body's biological clock. By Nature's design, night-time is universally best suited for sleeping, and daytime is universally best suited for working/schooling. But our circadian rhythm differs in the times we best assimilate information.

For some that time is at night, and for some at day. (Although a seasoned learner, so far as he is well rested, should be able to assimilate at almost any given period within the 24-hour frame.)

You have to know when you best assimilate information and then structure your study time-table around those periods.

A conducive environment is also pivot to assimilation. Some prefer to have a white noise in the background during study (white noise could be a rotating ceiling fan or Mozart's Lacrimosa playing softly in the background), while some students prefer to consume knowledge while perched in the safety of absolute silence. Again, you have to figure out what environment is most conducive to your learning and assimilation.



5) Emotional equilibrium:

Before any study session, ensure that you are emotionally balanced. If you are still grieving your boyfriend's betrayal or the loss of a romantic relationship, then perhaps you might consider putting off studying until you have mastered your emotions.

Grief, anxiety, fear, and generally all negative emotions are things that cause the mind to wander. If you study without being rid of these emotional shrapnels, then be certain that your study session would be very likely be a complete waste of your time and energy.

6) Goal(s):

It is often said that abuse is inevitable when the purpose of a thing is not known. The same applies to learning. A student ought to have clearly outlined study goals before settling down to study.

The student must ask himself:- "Do I want to merely get the gist of this topic or do I also want to learn the elaborative details?" "Am I reading on World War II so as to understand the causes and effects of the war, or am I also reading so as to accumulate factoids, such as names of the key players and important dates?"

A student must know what it is that he wants to extract from every study session, and it's advisable that these study goals be as specific as possible. Remember, the brain wants order, not chaos.

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Re: The Science Of Learning: How To Study, Understand, And Remember All You Read by DarkRebel69: 8:15am On Oct 26, 2017
[PART 3 OF 3]

How to Study, Understand, and Remember All You Read


In this unit, we shall look at the processes involved in effective studying. Haven already fulfilled the requirements in the previous unit, you are now ready to get down to study. The first thing you must do is to:-


1) Skim/Preview:

Always take a rapid glance through the table of contents, the headings and sub-headings, rather than just plunging straight ahead to read. If you like, you could also read a synopsis of the topic you want to study on Wikipedia or any other vetted online platform. Doing this (skimming/previewing) would help with "schema activation" (i.e it would serve as a form of background knowledge and also erect the basic framework on which further knowledge can be easily built upon)

Skiming/previewing also helps in priming your mind, and it gives you a rough idea of what to expect when you eventually start reading. (That way you can easily deduce the vital from the incidental).

Next is:-

2) Reading:

The reading process must be an entirely active process. It helps if you sit on the edge of your chair, and never assume a slouching posture during this stage (unless you're reading Playboy magazine or Celebrity gossip).

Run your fingers across the page, and make annotations or take notes. (Doing these involves your "muscle memory".)

And, whenever you encounter a sentence, or a paragraph, or a concept that you don't fully understand, stop to reflect deeply on it—a productive study session is one marked by reflective pauses.

Also, visualise—with full imaginative bandwidth—whatever it is that you are reading. Make the words come alive, smell it, taste it, feel it, and hear it replay over and over in your mind (subvocalization). (Know this, the bridge between our minds and the physical world are our sensory organs, so if you want to be less forgetful, more aware, more informed, and much more smarter than the Average Joe or Jane, then you must lean heavily on your senses so as to accrue as much sensory inputs as is possible.)

Usually, the study stage is where all the cognitive legwork is done and if you put in 100% of your attention and labour during this stage, then you would have already gotten 90% of the job done.

On a personal note, I dislike having to re-read a material either because I failed to understand it the first time (due to inattention) or perhaps because I couldn't remember what I've read due to sloppiness during the encoding stage. That is why I have cultivated a life-long habit of focusing all my attention and effort during the reading stage, and 99% of the time, I have never had the cause to re-read a material due to lack of initial understanding or an inability to recall what I have read (Besides being an expert mnemonist, my natural memory has grown remarkably eidetic from this mindful habit of involving all of my senses whenever I study)

After studying, next on the agenda is:-

3) Summarizing:

Take all those annotations and notes you made during the study stage and re-write them in your own words. (This is a form of active learning too.)

Your summaries should be highly condensed and straight to the point, and don't use more words than is necessary. (These summaries are what you will use in revising before and during the examination period.)

After summarizing in your own words, next is:-

4) Review/Recall:

There is something called "Desirable difficulty" in learning psychology. Simply put, a desirable difficulty is a learning task that is somehow difficulty but also very rewarding (especially in the long-term). In the review stage, you are going to use a desirable difficulty so as to get an accurate assessment of your overall assimilation. What you would do is to turn your eyes away from your summary notes and then try to recall all you have learned thus far. (This would be your first review of the material). While doing this might be difficult initially, it would imprint the information better in your mind than if you just re-read your summaries.

Research has proven that those information that we struggle a bit with before recalling actually get more strongly impressed in our minds than those information which we easily recall. (In other words, “More mental pain, more mental gains”)

This task of trying to offhandedly recall what you have learned during the review stage will accomplish 2 things:

(a) It would consolidate what you have learned

(b) It will help to identify the loopholes in your understanding

[...]


If you follow the instructions up to this point, then you are sure to triple your assimilation rate in no time. But it doesn't end here. The human mind, unfortunately, is one organic contraption that's susceptible to forgetfulness, especially if the initial impressions or if the encoding process was not strong enough (perhaps you were multi-tasking while reading, perhaps you failed to take notes or draw diagrams and mind-maps, perhaps you didn't visualise the concepts, or perhaps the concepts were ones that demanded an extreme degree of abstraction which you aren't naturally capable of).

Nonetheless, there's an antidote for memory decay. In order to beat the forgetting curve (Ebbinghaus effect) and to guarantee the transfer of learning from the short-term memory (hippocampus) to the long-term filing cabinet (neocortex), we must play to the strength of our brains by repeating the learned material over gradually increasing spaced intervals (This is known as spaced repetition)

What the above means is that after you have completed a study session (or after receiving a lecture), you should ensure to review the material within the first 20-24 hours. Then review it again after 2/3 days has elapsed. Then review it again after 15/20 days. (It all depends on your schedule and preference.)

This here illustrates how spaced repetition works:-

Day 1:- Read about the 36 Decans of ancient Egyptian astronomy

Day 2 (which is within 20-24 hours of learning the 36 Decans):- Reviewed the material by recalling all I learned about the 36 Decans, and then glanced through my summary notes to see what I missed

Day 10: Repeated what I did on Day 2

Day 30: Repeated what I did on Day 2 and Day 10


The idea is to gradually increase the intervals between the review periods, and it is generally agreed that this (spaced repetition) is the most efficient and effective way of transferring knowledge to long-term memory. Remember that you should always try to offhandedly recall what you have learned whenever you review rather than just re-reading your notes.

Personally, what I do (and I think you will find this very helpful) is to go to the bottom of each of my summary notes as soon as I've formulated them and list out all the key things I have learned on that particular topic, and then I put them in a bracket.

Something like this:- "(Nutrition, types of nutrition, photosynthesis, parts of a plant, parts of a cell, differences between plant cell and animal cell, examples of multicellular organisms)"

During my review sessions I go straight to the bottom of my summary notes and look at each of the words I have written in brackets and then try to offhandedly recall everything that I can about them. (I never write the definitions in the bracket. I only write the names of the concepts and then mentally reel out all the details about them).

This way I am using a "desirable difficulty" to enhance my understanding and recall, rather than just re-reading my notes which, as scientific research has proven, tends to give many students the "illusion of understanding". This method that I utilize is very similar to the use of Flashcards, except that I find it much more time-economical and comfortable than using flashcards. But if you think Flashcards would serve you better, then you should use them.

In conclusion:


Always remember that understanding should be prioritized over memorization.

Bear in mind too that learning should be a fun process. You should as well be limitless in your creativity when it comes to learning.

Here is a fun fact:- I once learned the first 20 digits of pi some 5 years ago by setting the first 20 digits of pi as my phone's password. I reasoned that I would learn it more quickly if I had the benefit of regular exposure. (That's just me being creative.)

Induce motivation in yourself so as to assimilate and retain information with greater accuracy (motivated encoding); look for patterns in the materials you are to learn and connect it to past knowledge (]learning by association); formulate creative and memorable mnemonics (elaborative encoding); turn words, numbers and concepts into mental pictures and make those pictures randy, bizarre and funny (Von Restoff effect); teach a complex sociology concept to your dog or to your shadow if you can't get a human audience (Feynman technique), or convert the complex concept into a catchy rap song. And most importantly, have fun while doing all these things.

Closing remarks:

It happens even to the best of us that sometimes our minds would inevitably go blank, and there are also times when we get that tip-of-the-tongue feeling when trying to recall an information (i.e. we are certain that we know the information but we can't quite lay our hands on it in that moment).

When something of this sort happens, especially in examination halls, it's incredibly helpful if you try to recall some information that's related in some way to what you are trying to remember (I like to call these "neighbouring memories").

For example, if you were trying to recall the "characteristics of a Tropical Rainforest" but are unable to, you could turn your mind towards recalling the "characteristics of the Southern Guinea Savanna" instead—they are both similar in content and the latter is very likely to bring the former to remembrance. (Triggering remembrance by using the "neighbouring memories" works 95% of the time.)

If you have any questions to ask relating to the topic, or if you require clarification of any sort, then I'll be more than glad to help you to the best of my knowledge. And I hoped your enjoyed my disquisition?


(You are not to allowed post this article or any part of it on any website or blog, nor are you allowed to have it reproduced in any format whatsoever unless you have obtained permission from the author, who can be reached via this email address:- adedebo45@gmail.com)

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Re: The Science Of Learning: How To Study, Understand, And Remember All You Read by DarkRebel69: 8:17am On Oct 26, 2017
I recommend that you download Anki from Google playstore. It is one of the best spaced repetition softwares (apps) out there with which you can use to get through learning in school or in your workspace with relative ease.

With Anki you don't have to manually remember when to do your reviews (especially if they are voluminous) as Anki would remind you of your review periods. (You just have to discipline yourself by not postponing your reviews unless in very impossible situations.)

Anki also syncs your account and backs up your data so even if you lose your phone or tablet, you can still easily access your account on any other device without losing your data—sort of like Google Drive.

Fun fact: "Anki" is the Japanese word for "memorization".


If you want you could choose to download "Flashcards Deluxe" instead (though you have to pay a meagre sum for it), but I recommend Anki over it.

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Re: The Science Of Learning: How To Study, Understand, And Remember All You Read by HajimeSaito(m): 8:18am On Oct 26, 2017
DarkRebel69:
PART 2 OF 3]

How to Maximize Your Learning/Studying (Conditions to have in place)


In this unit we shall expound on these six conditions which must be considered and satisfied before getting down to study:-

1) Time management/structure

2) Motivation/curiosity

3) Attention

4) Circadian rhythm/conducive environment

5) Emotional equilibrium

6) Goal(s)


1) Time management/structure:

"I wasted time, and now doth time waste me/
For now hath time made me his numbering clock/"


The lines above are excerpts from the play "King Richard II" by William Shakespeare. The play is said to have been written sometime around 1595, and even though 422 years have elapsed since Shakespeare first put down those ingenious lines of drama, they still remain very relevant today (perhaps even more relevant today seeing as 16th century England did not have to grapple with social media and technology in all its guises—both of which by the way are one of the major time-consumers of the 21st century).

Typically, an academic semester comprises of six months, which is further split into three months apiece. It goes without saying that a student with good time management skills would have begun his studying way long before examinations (from the very start of the semester), so that by the time his exams are only one or two weeks away, he would merely be revising the learned material rather than reading his lecture notes or textbooks for the first time.

Another benefit of good time management is "Distributed learning/spacing".

Distributed learning or Spaced Learning, simply put, is when learning is split into minutes, hours, days, or even months, rather than done in one concentrated dose. For instance, if you were given a material to learn today and on which you would be tested the following day, and let's say you have 3 hours to learn that material, it would be best if you divided the 3 hours and studied for one hour per study session. After every one hour, take a short break (Pomodoro technique), or go do something unrelated to the study task at hand before coming back to complete your study. (With your attention and mental/physical energy re-vitalized.)

Distributed learning is the most productive and stress-free learning technique, which more than any other learning method guarantees long-term dividends, especially when it's accompanied with spaced repetition (we would touch on this later).
Distributed learning is also the one of the most natural way of learning since the time lapses give the brain ample time to form neural connections between the newly acquired information.

This is what distributed learning entails and, sadly, a student incapable of managing time properly would not be able to leverage distributed learning to his or her advantage.

(Mr. Ayodele Dada, the UNILAG psychology graduate who set the Internet on fire when he graduated with a perfect CGPA of 5.0, attributed the bulk of his success to "distributed learning/spacing".)

These are some ways of improving on time management: (a) Improve on self-discipline (b) Create and strictly abide by a study/school timetable (c) Avoid procrastination

b]2) Motivation/curiosity:[/b]

To maintain a sustained interest in what you have to study, to understand what you have to study, or to even be capable of offhandedly recalling what you have studied, then you must either be motivated to learn it or must be curious enough about it.

There would be instances when a certain course, topic, or even a lecturer's style of teaching stretches the boundaries of boredom, but even so there are myriad ways of inducing interest so as to facilitate learning. One of the simplest way to induce interest is to literally bury yourself in the course/topic. This can be done by reading extensively on it (not your school notes this time around), by watching YouTube videos that talk about the topic, by listening to several podcasts, and/or by asking an expert or a fellow student to break it down and explain in layman's terms. The idea is to bombard all your five senses with the "boring material" using all the mediums available to you. By steeping yourself in the genius loci of that which is to be learned, the otherwise "boring" and unfamiliar material would likely become interesting and familiar.

3) Attention:

An attentive mind is a present mind, and a present mind is a powerful mind, and also one that is likely to better understand and better retain whatever it learns.

William James—Father of Modern Psychology—once said that the sort of education that teaches a student to take charge of his wandering mind is an education par excellence. Samuel Johnson (English writer) also stressed on the importance of attention when he declared that:- "The art of memory is the art of paying attention"

For students who crave a fruitful study session, you are to approach every study session with 100% attention (It's non-negotiable). In fact, it has been proven that attention, that mindfulness, and that by being whole-heartedly attuned to whatever it is you are doing, increases productivity and slows down the rate of mental fatigue. Being attentive is also said to improve wisdom and problem-solving capacity.

Understand this, the brain is not built to multi-task, so your attention should never be divided when studying. This is the time you should also consider putting your phone in airplane mode and screening out both internal and external distractions. (Ensure that you are neither hungry nor dehydrated, as hunger and thirst are one of the major causes of internal distraction.)

A way of enhancing attentiveness is by practicing mindfulness meditation i.e a brief moment of physical and mental silence wherein you direct the flow of your thoughts and constantly bring back your wandering mind to the present moment (trust me, your mind will definitely wander).

10-15 minutes of meditation before every study session is enough to yield a bountiful study harvest. And its cognitive benefits are scientifically well accounted for as well.


4) Circadian rhythm/conducive environment:

Circadian rhythm basically means the body's biological clock. By Nature's design, night-time is universally best suited for sleeping, and daytime is universally best suited for working/schooling. But our circadian rhythm differs in the times we best assimilate information.

For some that time is at night, and for some at day. (Although a seasoned learner, so far as he is well rested, should be able to assimilate at almost any given period within the 24-hour frame.)

You have to know when you best assimilate information and then structure your study time-table around those periods.

A conducive environment is also pivot to assimilation. Some prefer to have a white noise in the background during study (white noise could be a rotating ceiling fan or Mozart's Lacrimosa playing softly in the background), while some students prefer to consume knowledge while perched in the safety of absolute silence. Again, you have to figure out what environment is most conducive to your learning and assimilation.



5) Emotional equilibrium:

Before any study session, ensure that you are emotionally balanced. If you are still grieving your boyfriend's betrayal or the loss of a romantic relationship, then perhaps you might consider putting off studying until you have mastered your emotions.

Grief, anxiety, fear, and generally all negative emotions are things that cause the mind to wander. If you study without being rid of these emotional shrapnels, then be certain that your study session would be very likely be a complete waste of your time and energy.

6) Goal(s):

It is often said that abuse is inevitable when the purpose of a thing is not known. The same applies to learning. A student ought to have clearly outlined study goals before settling down to study.

The student must ask himself:- "Do I want to merely get the gist of this topic or do I also want to learn the elaborative details?" "Am I reading on World War II so as to understand the causes and effects of the war, or am I also reading so as to accumulate factoids, such as names of the key players and important dates?"

A student must know what it is that he wants to extract from every study session, and it's advisable that these study goals be as specific as possible. Remember, the brain wants order, not chaos.


I've read many of these "how to study" guidelines before, but I can honestly say that this is the best one I've come across. You've just restored some of my faith in Nairaland.

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Re: The Science Of Learning: How To Study, Understand, And Remember All You Read by DarkRebel69: 8:29am On Oct 26, 2017
HajimeSaito:

I've read many of these "how to study" guidelines before, but I can honestly say that this is the best one I've come across. You've just restored some of my faith in Nairaland.

Thank you, sir.

I have heard lots of complaints from students and colleagues alike over their inability to retain most of what they read—a problem as I have discovered in most cases traces back to the poor study techniques they applied to their learning. That is why I have written this piece and tried to make it as comprehensive as possible so as to help those students and non-students who are yet unaware of proper and effective study methods.


Mynd44, Fynestboi, Lalasticlala—(This exposition was thoroughly researched and I'm certain too that it would be of immense benefit to students and non-students alike who are in need of an appropriate study methodology.

Kindly do well to move this to the front page so that it can have a wider audience coverage. Trust me, it would be a brilliant way to kick off this beautiful Thursday morning. )

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Re: The Science Of Learning: How To Study, Understand, And Remember All You Read by Tamass: 6:09pm On Oct 26, 2017
Whoa.. This is mind-blowing and scintillating, I really hope this works for me.
Thanks Op, this is a really magnificent write-up.
Thumbs up.

1 Like

Re: The Science Of Learning: How To Study, Understand, And Remember All You Read by Tamass: 6:12pm On Oct 26, 2017
Mynd44,lalasticlala...why is this not making fp?
It's very informative and educative.
Re: The Science Of Learning: How To Study, Understand, And Remember All You Read by DarkRebel69: 6:42pm On Oct 26, 2017
Tamass:
Whoa.. This is mind-blowing and scintillating, I really hope this works for me.
Thanks Op, this is a really magnificient write-up.
Thumbs up.

Thank you. More importantly, they are very practical techniques.

I have no doubt that they will work for you. If I may ask, what study methods did you use before now? Or was it unsystematic?

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Re: The Science Of Learning: How To Study, Understand, And Remember All You Read by Tamass: 7:01pm On Oct 26, 2017
DarkRebel69:


Thank you. More importantly, they are very practical techniques.

I have no doubt that they will work for you. If I may ask, what study methods did you use before now? Or was it unsystematic?
I just do quick memorization a week or two before exams, this is because when I read a longer while before test/exams I tend to forget all what I felt I had assimilated..this method of cramming and pouring actually works well for me as I happen to ace my exams subsequently, the only con i was able to deduce or notice was the fact that I wasn't able to reiterate and reproduce what I penned down myself during the exams, when asked afterwards..
I'd adopt this method you proposed..and thanks for the confidence you imbibed in me, I'd definitely come back to drop a testimony after i see positive results. Plus this came right in time as most institutions nationwide are just about to start a new academic section..i hope many aspiring learners get to see this wonderful piece. wink

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Re: The Science Of Learning: How To Study, Understand, And Remember All You Read by DarkRebel69: 8:01pm On Oct 26, 2017
Tamass:

I just do quick memorization a week or two before exams, this is because when I read a longer while before test/exams I tend to forget all what I felt I had assimilated..this method of cramming and pouring actually works well for me as I happen to ace my exams subsequently, the only con i was able to deduce or notice was the fact that I wasn't able to reiterate and produce what I penned down myself during the exams, when asked afterwards..
I'd adopt this method you proposed..and thanks for the confidence you imbibed in me, I'd definitely come back to drop a testimony after i see positive results. Plus this came right in time as most institutions nationwide are just about to start a new academic section... i hope many aspiring learners get to see this wonderful piece. wink

It's rather unfortunate that the moderators are short-sighted and have not a weather eye for discerning diamonds from debris.

The reason you seem to forget when you start your reading far out from the exam periods is because you did not complement your reading with reviews. Despite the fact that we have very strong visuo-spatial memories, majority of us still need to pass along a new terrain some two or three times before we know our way around a new environment. Whatever you read is just like you moving into a new environment, and the only way to familiarize yourself with that unknown place is by repeatedly strolling through the new terrain (spaced repetiton/reviews)

And reading and memorizing one week before exams, besides being stressful and ineffective (as it's impossible to cover the syllabus in one week), can only get the information into the short-term memory. If you don't review it after exams then it would never get transferred to long-term memory, thus making it seem like your entire reading exercise is designed only for passing exams, rather than for long-lasting self-development.

I wish you luck, even though luck plays no role in this sort of thing. Send a message if you encounter any trouble along the way. I'll be more than happy to help.

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Re: The Science Of Learning: How To Study, Understand, And Remember All You Read by DanseMacabre(m): 1:59am On Oct 27, 2017
Woulda loved to read this, but e too long for an early morning read, so later on.


But to advocate for the devil, why would one even need to remember everything one ever read?
Re: The Science Of Learning: How To Study, Understand, And Remember All You Read by encryptjay(m): 5:39am On Oct 27, 2017
This has to one of the best threads I've seen this year because it deals with memory which I'm kinda obsessed with.
Once, there's interest attached to learning, you're likely to recall better.
Also, you could do some calculations to sharpen the mind.
Play Chess.
I remember secondary school where I always had to close my eyes and get myself entangled with the material because it was my modus operandi in getting acquainted with the material but I had to stop because people thought it was odd.
Your point about the purpose of reading is also very imperative.
DarkRebel69, why do you think novels get stored in long term memory easier than regular school materials?
Thanks for creating such a wonderful thread. I believe we should train our memory by being engrossed in daily studying.
I'll mail you.
Re: The Science Of Learning: How To Study, Understand, And Remember All You Read by fergusen: 7:43am On Oct 27, 2017
Following
Re: The Science Of Learning: How To Study, Understand, And Remember All You Read by Nukilia: 9:45am On Oct 27, 2017
Thanks so much for this information @ OP.
Re: The Science Of Learning: How To Study, Understand, And Remember All You Read by DarkRebel69: 12:17pm On Oct 27, 2017
encryptjay:
This has to one of the best threads I've seen this year because it deals with memory which I'm kinda obsessed with.
Once, there's interest attached to learning, you're likely to recall better.
Also, you could do some calculations to sharpen the mind.
Play Chess.

Not just calculations and not just chess, but also exercise. A quick jog through the street or taking regular "Nature walks" in the evening gets blood pumping into your brain.

To improve mental acuity, one should always do things that challenges one (there would come a time when you have amassed a wealth of experience and know a million possible moves in chess. At that point the game no longer becomes challenging because you can now do it intuitively. This is when you should take it as a cue to go get involved in another challenging activity.)

Engaging in new–and challenging—activities will cause what is known as neuroplasticity to take place (this is simply when the brain reorganizes itself so as to adopt to a new environment, or activity, or a new challenge.


I remember secondary school where I always had to close my eyes and get myself entangled with the material because it was my modus operandi in getting acquainted with the material but I had to stop because people thought it was odd.
Your point about the purpose of reading is also very imperative.

This is a very powerful technique. It's a form of visualisation—a mixture of visual, spatial, and kinestic visualisation.
You should haven't stopped because people thought it was odd. If you value public opinion so much, then practice this technique while shrouded in secrecy and away from public eye.


DarkRebel69, why do you think novels get stored in long term memory easier than regular school materials?

Thanks for creating such a wonderful thread. I believe we should train our memory by being engrossed in daily studying.
I'll mail you.

It depends on the novel. Not all novels get "intuitively stored" into long-term memory (by "intuitively" I mean without too much effort or intermittent repetitions).

Novels are interesting (just like movies), and most importantly, they deal with "concrete" things (i.e. the themes they deal with are things that we can easily identify and relate to. Things like murder, relationships, betrayal, deceit, friendship, family, etcetera).

But if you read about "general relativity" (without having a strong background in physics), it's almost impossible that you at once understand the concept since unlike novels it is a very abstract topic.

That's why it's advisable for one to "concretize" abstract concepts—make them animals, humans, family members, or things you can easily identify with.
Re: The Science Of Learning: How To Study, Understand, And Remember All You Read by skilfulsagei(m): 12:17pm On Oct 27, 2017
Op, you are right. I have practised this for years believing it is just my method of reading. I never knew it is scientific and can be adopted by anybody. Good piece!!!! Kudos.
Re: The Science Of Learning: How To Study, Understand, And Remember All You Read by DarkRebel69: 12:18pm On Oct 27, 2017
Nukilia:
Thanks so much for this information @ OP.


You are most welcome.
Re: The Science Of Learning: How To Study, Understand, And Remember All You Read by DarkRebel69: 12:48pm On Oct 27, 2017
DanseMacabre:
Woulda loved to read this, but e too long for an early morning read, so later on.

But to advocate for the devil, why would one even need to remember everything one ever read?

Try to read it as soon as you get the chance.

And to answer your question, you should strive to remember all you read so as to be roundly knowledgeable. By "all you read" I don't mean including the unimportant details or every single fact or trivia you come across (To do this would be redundant).
By "all you read" I meant the "gist" (“the meat and potatoes”) of everything you read, especially those that affect the course of your career or life.

You should also try to remember all you read so that you can readily draw from them should the need arise.

For instance, I wrote this article entirely in my memory palace (it's an ancient Memory technique that originated in Ancient Greece. The likes of Peter Of Ravenna, Cicero, Metrodorus of Scepsis, and Matteo de Ricci all used this technique. The Catholic Church even burned someone on the stake because he practiced this mnemonic technique. They called it witchcraft. cheesy Read on "Memory Palace" and download "Ad Herenium" (it's a treatise purpotedly written by Marcus Cicero).

My point is, the only reason I was able to write this article in my head (my “memory palace”) is because I was able to remember that Shakespeare's line which I quoted, and also because I was able to remember all those learning psychology concepts which I touched upon. Barring the definition of "learning" which I got from Wikipedia, every other thing in that article was written in my head, and I was able to do this because I was able to remember them all. The only thing I did was to rearrange them, sync them, and then deposit them in my memory loci so as to preserve their logical sequence. When the time came for me to type them out, all I did was to mentally walk through my memory palace and pick them out one after the other. (This saved me time and allowed me tackle other things in my schedule)

Have you heard of the Google effect? You'll find it very interesting. Google effect is when our brains intuitively learns to master and memorize an information when it knows that it cannot readily access the source of that information. Alternatively, the brain does not intuitively learn to master and memorize an information when it knows that it can readily access the source of the information, and instead of memorizing the information, it memorizes the place to get the information.

Read on it. It's a very interesting concept that explains why humans who lived before the emergence of print had better memories than those who lived in the age of the printed word.
Re: The Science Of Learning: How To Study, Understand, And Remember All You Read by DanseMacabre(m): 2:29pm On Oct 27, 2017
DarkRebel69:


Try to read it as soon as you get the chance.

And to answer your question, you should strive to remember all you read so as to be roundly knowledgeable. By "all you read" I don't mean including the unimportant details or every single fact or trivia you come across (To do this would be redundant).
By "all you read" I meant the "gist" (“the meat and potatoes”) of everything you read, especially those that affect the course of your career or life.

You should also try to remember all you read so that you can readily draw from them should the need arise.

For instance, I wrote this article entirely in my memory palace (it's an ancient Memory technique that originated in Ancient Greece.

I'll definitely read it, I just need to find a place bereft of interruptions to do this. I remember 'memory palace' from Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows. I didn't know it was this practical. You've def got me intrigued man. Nice one. cool
Re: The Science Of Learning: How To Study, Understand, And Remember All You Read by DarkRebel69: 3:14pm On Oct 27, 2017
DanseMacabre:

I'll definitely read it, I just need to find a place bereft of interruptions to do this. I remember 'memory palace' from Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows. I didn't know it was this practical. You've def got me intrigued man. Nice one. cool

No, it wasn't referred to in Sherlock Holmes' Game Of Shadows (the one played by Robert Downey Jnr.)

Mind Palace has been referred to only in one incarnation of Sherlock Holmes, and that was in BBC's Sherlock (played by Benedict Cumberbatch). The episodes it was referred to were:- "Study in Pink", "Hounds Of Baskerville", and "The Abominable Bride".

Man, it's very practical. You are looking at a more-than-2000 year old technique (The poet, Simonides Of Ceos, is attributed to be the originator of the technique).

In fact it used to be in the teaching syllabus under the name "Ars Memorativa" (Art Of Memory). It was an academic discipline on its own, and it was only during the 16th century Protestant Reformation that it was scrapped out because, according to the Puritans, its use of vivid and bizarre imagery to aid recall was "devilish and unchristian"

I didn't talk about it in my exposition because it's kind of like a mnemonic trade secret. cheesy. I specifically use it to memorize the points of a speech, lists, and telephone numbers or any other random combination of numbers—bank account number(s), number plates, house addresses, etc. I use it too as a sort of "mental notepad" in case I need to write down something but do not feel like doing it manually with an actual pen.

I wish you goodluck. And may Mnemosyne—goddess of Memory—make your "memory palace" journey a fruitful one. Amen. cheesy
Re: The Science Of Learning: How To Study, Understand, And Remember All You Read by Nobody: 3:21pm On Oct 27, 2017
Excellent write-up. It's awesome.

I've never really hard much problem with learning though. I just know that I tend to learn anything I want to whenever I put my mind to it. I don't follow any particular system or method.

I just learn....... rather arbitrarily.

But I think putting the OP into practice and making my studying systematic should yield better fruits.

I should start LIVING knowledge and learning, and stop letting them HAPPEN TO ME randomly and without pattern.

Thanks for this.
Re: The Science Of Learning: How To Study, Understand, And Remember All You Read by DarkRebel69: 3:51pm On Oct 27, 2017
ZandhaZaraZ:
Excellent write-up. It's awesome.

I've never really hard much problem with learning though. I just know that I tend to learn anything I want to whenever I put my mind to it. I don't follow any particular system or method.

I just learn....... rather arbitrarily.

But I think putting the OP into practice and making my studying systematic should yield better fruits.

I should start LIVING knowledge and learning, and stop letting them HAPPEN TO ME randomly and without pattern.

Thanks for this.

You had a subconcious system in place. The brain sorts and organizes sensory inputs on the neural level without our permission. It's why we sometimes intuitively feel that we are in danger even when that knowledge was not arrived at via a conscious thought process. Perhaps we walked into a deserted alley and started having the gut feeling that something was off, even without having a rational explanation as to why we felt that way. Unknown to us, our brains have already drawn from the body of our past experiences, made several permutations, and then sent a warning signal to us that we might be in danger. It's purely Darwinian, and was how our ancestors managed to survive in the wild.

I believe our subconscious minds are almost excellent "game theorists".

But now that you have decided to systemize your learning, then the benefits are bound to triple. The mind loves order after all.
Re: The Science Of Learning: How To Study, Understand, And Remember All You Read by Nobody: 4:00pm On Oct 27, 2017
DarkRebel69:


You had a subconcious system in place. The brain sorts and organizes sensory inputs on the neural level without our permission. It's why we sometimes intuitively feel that we are in danger even when that knowledge was not arrived at via a conscious thought process. Perhaps we walked into a deserted alley and started having the gut feeling that something was off, even without having a rational explanation as to why we felt that way. Unknown to us, our brains have already drawn from the body of our past experiences, made several permutations, and then sent a warning signal to us that we might be in danger. It's purely Darwinian, and was how our ancestors managed to survive in the wild.

I believe our subconscious minds are almost excellent "game theorists".

But now that you have decided to systemize your learning, then the benefits are bound to triple. The mind loves order after all.


True. Even I've come to realise that a large percentage of our daily activities and actions are performed instinctively and subconsciously. I think this was what psychologist, Carl Jung refered to as "The Unconscious". Then we try to rationalise them after the fact as conscious decisions we took. I would say it's also behind the ability of autistics suffering from asperger's to perform calculations faster than calculators - or would you say there's anything actually conscious in the real sense about it?

Thanks once again.
Re: The Science Of Learning: How To Study, Understand, And Remember All You Read by DarkRebel69: 4:18pm On Oct 27, 2017
ZandhaZaraZ:
True. Even I've come to realise that a large percentage of our daily activities and actions are performed instinctively and subconsciously. I think this was what psychologist, Carl Jung refered to as "The Unconscious". Then we try to rationalise them after the fact as conscious decisions we took. I would say it's also behind the ability of autistics suffering from asperger's to perform calculations faster than calculators - or would you say there's anything actually conscious in the real sense about it?

Thanks once again.

Read "Mastermind: How to think like Sherlock Holmes" by Maria Konnikova. Maria did a decent job in explaining how the brain from habit and familiarity grows into doing things subconsciously which it originally used to do mindfully and consciously.

One thing is for certain though:- Intuition is only data processed too fast for the conscious mind, and intuition is a concomitant of expertise and experience.

As regards your enquiry: Well, the autistic person would have to understand how calculations work before even being capable of doing them at lightning speed. But from regular practice the autistic person becomes incredibly fast, and also the once conscious understanding of calculations become something that he can intuitively do without necessarily having to follow the intermediate conscious process.

The same thing applies to you. You are a fairly brilliant wordsmith yourself, but there was a time when you were struggling to learn the alphabets (as a child). But now, when you compose sentences on the fly (on Nairaland for example), do you consciously think about the individual words or the individual sounds or even about the process of writing, or do you just intuitively know which words would fit and which would not? I'm betting it's the latter. So yes, that's basically how it works.

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Re: The Science Of Learning: How To Study, Understand, And Remember All You Read by Nobody: 4:49pm On Oct 27, 2017
DarkRebel69:


Read "Mastermind: How to think like Sherlock Holmes" by Maria Konnikova. Maria did a decent job in explaining how the brain from habit and familiarity grows into doing things subconsciously which it originally used to do mindfully and consciously.

One thing is for certain though:- Intuition is only data processed too fast for the conscious mind, and intuition is a concomitant of expertise and experience.

As regards your enquiry: Well, the autistic person would have to understand how calculations work before even being capable of doing them at lightning speed. But from regular practice the autistic person becomes incredibly fast, and also the once conscious understanding of calculations become something that he can intuitively do without necessarily having to follow the intermediate conscious process.

The same thing applies to you. You are a fairly brilliant wordsmith yourself, but there was a time when you were struggling to learn the alphabets (as a child). But now, when you compose sentences on the fly (on Nairaland for example), do you consciously think about the individual words or the individual sounds or even about the process of writing, or do just intuitively know which words would fit and which would not? I'm betting it's the latter. So yes, that's basically how it works.

Nice. I do not believe in "TABULA RASA" though, and I do believe some people are born with certain talents and abilities the rest of us can only dream of.

Thanks for your time. I'll send you a mail.
Re: The Science Of Learning: How To Study, Understand, And Remember All You Read by Fvcknames: 10:42pm On Oct 27, 2017
I need more people like this in my life, people that'll impart knowledge in me, people that I can have intelligent conversations with
Re: The Science Of Learning: How To Study, Understand, And Remember All You Read by Fvcknames: 10:50pm On Oct 27, 2017
Did you always have eidetic memory?
Re: The Science Of Learning: How To Study, Understand, And Remember All You Read by fergusen: 1:41am On Oct 28, 2017
@ DatkRebel69 you studied psychology right?

This is priceless. I'll have to read this again and again.
Re: The Science Of Learning: How To Study, Understand, And Remember All You Read by DarkRebel69: 9:53am On Oct 28, 2017
fergusen:
@ DatkRebel69 you studied psychology right?

This is priceless. I'll have to read this again and again.

Not formally and not systematically but, yes, I do read on psychology from time to time.
Re: The Science Of Learning: How To Study, Understand, And Remember All You Read by DarkRebel69: 10:17am On Oct 28, 2017
Fvcknames:
Did you always have eidetic memory?

Everyone was born with an eidetic memory (unless the person is congenitally aphantasiac), and in varying degrees of course. (Don't confuse "eidetic memory" with ''photographic memory", which by the way does not exist and is only a sci-fi myth.)

"Verbalization" has often been cited as the reason why many of us lose our eidetic memories after childhood. As children, we could not use language proficiently, and the only thing we had to express ourselves or in understanding things were (mental) pictures, but as we got more immersed in language, we gradually lost that ability for vivid mental imagery. Basically, at the cusp of our childhood, we swapped our ability for "mental imagery" for "mental vocalization". The issue of vocalization also explains why people on the autistic spectrum tend to have excellent eidetic memories (People like Stephen Wiltshere et al). The logic runs that since most autistic persons struggle with language and in most cases have delayed speech, they tend to lean heavily on mental imagery, thus leading to an exponential increase in their eidetic memory.

I'm conducting a research soon in which I intend on using a questionnaire to find out the ratio of people who "think in words" as opposed to those who "think in pictures". (And also to figure out the ratio of those who think neither in words nor pictures.)

To answer your question, I've always been a visual and auditory learner. But with those mnemonic techniques that I've adapted—mnemonic techniques which require intense mental imagery— I've been able to augment my eidetic memory while at the same time preserving the integrity of my capacity for verbalization. The brain operates a "use it or lose it" policy i.e. the more you use a portion of your brain, the stronger that portion becomes.

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Re: The Science Of Learning: How To Study, Understand, And Remember All You Read by Nobody: 11:36am On Oct 28, 2017
DarkRebel69:


Everyone was born with an eidetic memory (unless the person is congenitally aphantasiac), and in varying degrees of course. (Don't confuse "eidetic memory" with ''photographic memory", which by the way does not exist and is only a sci-fi myth.)

"Verbalization" has often been cited as the reason why many of us lose our eidetic memories after childhood. As children, we could not use language proficiently, and the only thing we had to express ourselves or in understanding things were (mental) pictures, but as we got more immersed in language, we gradually lost that ability for vivid mental imagery. Basically, at the cusp of our childhood, we swapped our ability for "mental imagery" for "mental vocalization". The issue of vocalization also explains why people on the autistic spectrum tend to have excellent eidetic memories (People like Stephen Wiltshere et al). The logic runs that since most autistic persons struggle with language and in most cases have delayed speech, they tend to lean heavily on mental imagery, thus leading to an exponential increase in their eidetic memory.

I'm conducting a research soon in which I intend on using a questionnaire to find out the ratio of people who "think in words" as opposed to those who "think in pictures". (And also to figure out the ratio of those who think neither in words nor pictures.)

To answer your question, I've always been a visual and auditory learner. But with those mnemonic techniques that I've adapted—mnemonic techniques which require intense mental imagery— I've been able to augment my eidetic memory while at the same time preserving the integrity of my capacity for verbalization. The brain operates a "use it or lose it" policy i.e. the more you use a portion of your brain, the stronger that portion becomes.
Good morning, sir. Please check your mail.

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