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When I gained admission into college I had no idea or experience related to the ONLY course I was qualified to study and that course was Economics.
I couldn't even define Economics when I gained admission.
And frankly speaking, there was no subject I could study because of my previous experience.
Because during my elementary school, I wasn't among the brilliant students.
I find it difficult to understand any concept.
But immediately after I gained admission to the college I went back to the drawing board.
And started studying day and night.
And guess what?
I eventually graduated with a first-class honor in the department of Economics.
And today, I'm going to show exactly what I did to improve my learning abilities and make my learning more effective than ever before.
Not only that but I will also show you some of the things I learned after college that keep my learning effective at every stage of my life.
Including every psychological tactic I discovered.
But before we dive into the experts' secrets of effective learning.
There are some things you need to understand to make this report more resourceful and useful.
Now, let's look at the simple psychology behind effective learning.
Cognitivism is a learning theory that focuses on how information is received, organized, stored, and retrieved by the mind.
It uses the mind as an information processor, like a computer. Therefore, cognitivism looks beyond observable behavior, viewing learning as an internal mental process.
In this view, learners are actively involved in the way they process information. Knowledge, memory, thinking, and problem-solving are areas for development.
WHAT IS COGNITIVE LEARNING?
Cognitive learning is a way of learning that helps students use their brains more effectively.
This method of learning is active, constructive, and long-lasting. It encourages students to be fully engaged in the learning process so learning, thinking, and remembering gets easier.
Cognitive learning isn’t about memorization or repetition. It’s about developing true understanding; it’s about learning how to learn.
EXAMPLES OF COGNITIVE LEARNING STRATEGIES INCLUDE:
Asking yourself to reflect on your experience
Finding new solutions to problems
Develop the habit of group discussions about what is being taught
Explore and understand how ideas are connected.
When you apply these strategies immediately you learn something. You will gain more mastery and develop an effective learning ability.
Because by discussing what you just learned with people…
By trying to find new solutions to the problems…
And by trying to connect what you learn with something around you and develop new ideas.
You will be 10 times more likely to learn new things effectively.
HOW CAN COGNITIVE LEARNING HELP YOU?
Cognitive learning helps you to learn effectively and ensures that the concepts learned in class are understood, not just memorized.
That being said, learning is not only about memorization but understanding.
Because effective learning only occurs when you understand the topic of discussion rather than memorizing it only.
Learning is a process of organizing information into conceptualized models.
Instructions should be organized, sequenced, and presented in a manner that is understandable and means schemas to the learner.
Retention and recall are important to build schemas in the brain. Memory is supported by learners' learning material. You must provide yourself with tools that help your brain process information.
Types of Learning
Learning might come in just two ways:
Conscious and unconscious.
Conscious Learning is the type of learning that occurred intentionally.
Let me explain…
If you are going to school or attending webinars or anything. That type of learning is conscious as you are aware of it.
On the other hand,
Unconscious Learning is a type of learning that occurs unintentionally.
When you go to a shopping mall or any place whatever you learn would be unconscious because it happened to you unintentionally.
Anything you learn without you being aware of or preparing for it is called unconscious or accidental learning.
Types of Learner
There are just two types of learners: Slow and fast learners.
That leads us to the learning style as it relates to the type of learner you are.
What's Human Brain?
According to Johns Hopkins, the brain is a complex organ that controls thought, memory, emotion, touch, motor skills, vision, breathing, temperature, hunger, and every process that regulates our body.
Together, the brain and spinal cord that extends from it make up the central nervous system or CNS.
What Happens In Your Brain When You Are Learning?
According to Jérémie Blanchette Sarrasin, Steve Masson, and other authors.
Your brain is primarily composed of about 85 billion neurons, which is more than the number of stars you can see with the naked eye in the night sky.
A neuron is a cell that acts as a messenger, sending information in the form of nerve impulses (like electrical signals) to other neurons.
For example, when you are working, some neurons in your brain send the “move legs” message to other neurons and this message then travels through the nerves (like cables) to your legs.
The electrical signals that are communicated from one neuron to another are therefore what enable you to do everything you do: write, think, see, jump, talk, compute, and so on.
Each neuron can be connected with up to 10,000 other neurons, leading to a large number of connections in your brain, which looks like a very dense spider web.
When you are learning, important changes take place in your brain, including the creation of new connections between your neurons.
As you keep on practicing, the stronger your neuron connections become. As your connections become stronger, the messages (nerve impulses) are transmitted increasingly faster, making them more productive.
That is the way you become better every day at anything you learn.
Maybe it is playing football, reading, drawing, etc. You can correlate connections between your neurons to route in a forest (see Figure below).
If you are walking through a forest without a route it is difficult because you have to cut and push the vegetation and branches out of the way to create your way through.
But as you keep on using the same route, the easier and more workable it becomes--just like the image above (before and after).
Contrarily, when you stop using the route, the leafage and grasses grow back, and the route gradually fades away.
This is very identical to what happens in your brain—when you stop rehearsing something, the connections between your neurons diminish and can sometimes be disassembled or cut back.
That is why it may seem so complicated to start reading again when school starts if you have not read all summer.
Nonetheless, some neural networks can become so strong that the route or connections never completely disappear.
Learning Strategies That Are More Compatible With How the Brain Works?
1. Frequently Activating Your Neurons
Because the connections between your neurons require to be switched on many times to become stronger and more productive.
This means that learning often required activation of your neurons, for example, you have to practice multiplication tables continually, to establish the “route” between your neurons.
When they gave birth to a child, it's required some months before he can speak and work likewise learning.
Connecting your neurons will not be effective by just glancing through your book, arithmetic tables, or whatever.
You might also find it quite liberating and boring. To create the connections between your neurons, you need to retrieve the arithmetic tables from your memory.
This means you need to put in the effort to recollect what you have learned to activate your neuron connections.
However, scientists think that this “struggle” improves learning because the challenge is an indication that you are building new connections.
Recall, learning something new is like walking in a bush with no established route, you will possibly walk gradually at first, but if you keep trekking, routes will start shaping, and ultimately you will be walking on well-beaten roads.
Moreover, when you do attempt to recollect what you have memorized and make a blunder, it can help you recognize gaps in your learning and give you a clue of which route still needs to be worked on.
2. Spacing the Activation of Neurons
Now that you know that neurons need to be activated frequently for learning to exist (and that it means retrieving information), you possibly gape how often you should practice.
Those scientists that specialized in how the brain acquires new information realized that breaks and sleep in between learning times improve learning effectiveness and reduce forgetting.
That being said, it's great to have rest sections between learning durations instead of long hours without any rest.
In short, when you space your learning periods, you allow your brain to make the connections that you strengthened during your practice sessions more efficient.
When you take a quick break from practicing, let us say a 20-minute, you allow for the maintenance or replacement of the receptors on the surface of the neurons.
The receptors are like electric outlets that receive the nerve impulse (electrical signals) from other neurons.
Taking a break helps them work better: your neurons can thus transmit their nerve impulses more easily to other neurons.
Finally, when you get a night of sleep between practice sessions, you benefit from a free retrieval practice session because while you sleep, your brain reactivates the connections between the neurons that you activated during the day. You could also get similar benefits from a nap.
3. Forgetting leads to better learning
You probably feel frustrated with yourself when you’re unable to remember some key detail you’ve only just learned, but research shows that forgetting plays a positive role in learning.
Although it sounds like counterparts, forgetting can increase long-term retention, information retrieval, and performance.
Why? Because when we forget something and are forced to go back and retrieve the information, it will be more strongly imprinted on our memories.
If you sit down to study a load of material, “of course you're not going to remember most of it the next day,” Carey said.
You do have to go back and build your knowledge. “But it's not that you don't remember well, or you're not a good learner. It's that forgetting is a critical part of learning.”
Multi-task is not a good learning strategy because you will lose focus when you are trying to do multiple things at once.
3 ways to boost your brain power while studying
1. Fit in some exercise a few times a week
Exercising not only improves our fitness levels but can also help to formulate a healthier brain.
By running, cycling, swimming, or any form of exercise you prefer, you can enhance the connections between brain cells.
From this, your learning and memory skills can enrich and you will be able to comprehend more information from your lectures or any other forms of learning.
Based on the recommendation you should exercise for at least 30 minutes a day(five times a week).
But if you are somewhat new to exercising, start a couple of times a week and slowly build it up.
2. Vitamins And Micronutrients
By eating the following vitamins and micronutrients you can also boost your brain performance.
Zinc – meat, fish, legumes, mushrooms, spinach, broccoli, garlic, nuts and seeds, cereals, and dairy.
Iodine – cod, seaweed, turkey, yogurt, tuna, eggs, strawberries.
Vitamin B6 –chicken, turkey, fish, bread, eggs, vegetables, peanuts, milk, and cereals
Vitamin B12 – meat, fish, dairy, and cereals
Omega-3 – fish, nuts, seeds, and egg yolks
3. Allow yourself to power nap
Making sure you get enough sleep at night, as well as having a 30-minute power nap during the day, gives your body enough time to repair and rebuild for another day of learning and studying.
When students are not performing as well as they could be, it is likely they just need to be taught differently. It is important to remember; diversity is not exclusively about qualities, beliefs, and faith, it can also determine how we best learn new skills. Inspire Education
Some people learn through movements and hands-on activities, while some need visual information to fully understand a concept.
Learning Style #1: Visual (Spatial)
Do you learn by reading or seeing pictures?
If you are the type of learner who finds it easier to understand something if it is in a diagram, you are perhaps a visual learner.
Using symbols, or any visual aid to express knowledge, concepts, thoughts, or ideas, including the relationships between them would be a great idea for your learning effectiveness.
I have even worked with a CEO of a health consulting firm that only learns through visuals.
Learning Style #2: Aural (Auditory-Musical)
Do you dislike reading but like listening to it?
If you need to hear something out loud for you to understand the concept, then you are an auditory learner.
Maybe you depend on hearing the information to fully understand it, rather than just reading it from a book.
Group discussions and any audio form of learning would be a great way for effective learning.
Learning Style #3: Verbal (Linguistic)
Do you love words and writing?
If you are the type of learner who finds it comfortable expressing himself through writing or speaking, then you are a verbal learner.
Also, if you love to write, read, and play on the meaning or sound of words such as tongue twisters, rhymes, and many more.
Maybe you are conversant with the meaning and definitions of words and always curious to learn new words and their meanings, usages, and etymology.
For your effective learning, some of the techniques you can use include verbal mnemonics(memo), scripting, role-playing, and anything that involves both speaking and writing.
Verbal learners frequently seek public speaking, writing, administration, journalism, or politics.
Learning Style #4: Physical (Kinesthetic)
Are you a physical hands-on learner?
If you are a type of learner who prefers forms of learning styles that involve carrying out activities instead of listening to a lesson or watching it.
The type of learners who have an interest in kinesthetic learning style is called ‘do-ers’.
Kinesthetic learners are often interested in careers such as emergency services, safety representative, physical education, or entertainment (such as acting or dance).
Learning Style #5: Logical (Mathematical)
Do you have a logical learning style or are you great with numbers?
If you as a learner like to always use your brain for logical and mathematical reasoning.
Then, you’re a logical learner. You easily recognize patterns and can connect seemingly meaningless concepts easily.
Logical learners could pursue careers in fields such as scientific research, accountancy, bookkeeping, or computer programming.
Learning Style #6: Social (Interpersonal)
Are you a social learner?
Other learners prefer social or interpersonal learning. If you’re at your best in socializing and communicating with people, both verbally and non-verbally, this is what you are; a social learner.
Social learners may pursue counseling, teaching, training and coaching, sales, politics, and human resources among others.
Learning Style #7:Solitary (Intrapersonal)
Do you prefer working alone?
You have a solitary style if you are more private, independent, and introspective. Your concentration is at its best when you focus on your thoughts and feelings without the distraction of others.
EFFECTIVE LEARNING TACTICS & STRATEGIES
The first part of this report is about understanding WHO you are as a learner to be more effective while learning.
In this part two, I will work you through some tactics you can apply to learn effectively.
1. Have a STRONG WHY: In anything you want to achieve in life, having a good reason behind your goal will make it 60 times more achievable.
You need to start asking yourself questions like:
"I want to learn effectively and become the best in my field of interest. WHY?"
"I want to become a doctor, lawyer, accountant, entrepreneur…WHY"
There are two types of WHY…
i. Negative: this is when you want to accomplish a particular goal because you want to get rid of PAINS.
In this scenario, your why is driven by pain. And it's stronger than the next type.
If your teacher told you that you can't learn something because of one reason or the other and you want to prove him/her wrong. That is your WHY.
And it's driven by pain.
ii. Positive Why: this happens when you want to desire something because you like it.
For example: if you want to buy the latest car just to prove that you also have money.
Or want to relocate to a particular area because you think you feel more comfortable and respected.
2. Consistency: You want to learn effectively? The best shortcut is to show up every day.
If you are constantly giving all your best every day you will surely develop an effective learning ability.
Do you want to learn about Mathematics?
Solve Math problems every day.
Do you want to become a lawyer? Read law-related books and journals every day.
Whatever it is that you want to achieve in life requires consistency.
3. Abbreviation: This tactic I use whenever I want to remember something.
Let's assume you want to master
Symbolism: This is another way of remembering something faster by representing them with an object.
For example, if you want your brain to picture a channel of communication so you can recollect them faster. You can have a diagram that looks like the example below.
The idea is to picture what you are talking about in your memory for effective learning.
This means that you must be careful not to convey the impression or inculcate a habit that you are absolute authorities whose conclusions, opinions, points of view, or ideas are always correct.
When you are wrong, accept it and move on. That is how to learn effectively and extensively.
Expectations Affect Performance
You will respond to your expectations of what you can and cannot learn. If you believe that you can learn something, whether solving equations or riding a bicycle, you will usually make headway.
But when you lack confidence, learning eludes you. Students grow in self-confidence as they experience success in learning, just as they lose confidence in the face of repeated failure.
So when you fail during your attempt to learn something effectively, give it more and more tries.
Express your ideas and get feedback from your peers
But for feedback to be most helpful to you as a learner, it must consist of more than the provision of correct answers. Feedback ought to be analytical, to be suggestive, and come at a time when you are interested in it.
And getting honest feedback from people and also responding in the right way without taking it personally will help you to learn more from your mistakes and the people around you.
Be friends with those that are also academically sound and serious
One of the things that helped me become one of the best in my area of specialization was befriending those with that we share common traits.
Not only that, I always befriend people that know more than I do so I could tap into their professionality and intellectual ability.
This strategy helped me a lot and it can change your life if you are open-minded and apply it the right way.
Cognitivism argues that learning takes place in the mind, but behaviorists regard learning as effective when there is connectivity.
Webb's Depth of Knowledge
Norman Webb’s Depth of Knowledge (DoK) is familiar to many teachers from a theoretical perspective, but it can be incredibly difficult to apply practically and consistently in your teaching strategies.
A happy student is doing her homework and a teacher is instructing others.
There are four DoK levels:
Level one: Recollection and reproduction
Level two: Knowledge application
Level three: Strategic thinking
Level four: Extended critical thinking
Understand Who You Are: During my college life, 99% of my friends were academically sound.
Most of them were types of learners who only read when exams are two or three days ahead.
And apart from attending lectures, they might not open their reading materials more than twice before the exams.
But when I studied myself, I realized that I must not behave like that.
So I do read course material like five times before the exam comes because I understand myself.
You need to first understand how best you can learn when you can learn, and how fast you can learn when it comes to learning effectively.
And if you pay attention to the learning styles that I shared above you should by now know the type of learner you are.
You can't learn how to think critically, analyze information, communicate scientific ideas, make logical arguments, work as part of a team, and acquire other desirable skills unless you practice even when you think you are not perfect.
Let people or other co-students or even teachers make a jest at you while trying to achieve effective learning.
Do you recollect the first time a baby tries to crawl?
The baby will first struggle before he could just stand up on his feet.
Especially without his parents standing before him.
You’d realize that every time he tried to get on his feet he only got better and better.
This is because as a baby(including you) repeatedly performs the act of balancing, crawling, and standing he will be able to work one day, perfectly.
Likewise, every time you repeat actions from playing the guitar to baking a cake to conducting a science experiment to reading books-- you tend to get better at it with every attempt.
When you are required to master a new skill/technique and you use most of your senses to learn it, repeating the action till you get better at it can truly help.
Learning by doing has far better outcomes than just learning by reading.
Repeated actions help your brain process new information and perform a task with relative ease.
This is precisely why I encourage you to learn interactively daily to understand new concepts with ease.
If you can apply those simple guidelines inside this article. You will surely see the differences in your learning effectiveness.