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  • Author Ernestine Telleman

Do you want to improve your learning skills? 2x 7 tips

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Retaining information, enhancing your knowledge, studying. Who doesn't want to learn new things that will help you move forward? But...how do we learn anyway? Do we do it the right way? How can you learn to learn? Or better put: how can you learn to learn better?

Want to improve your learning skills? 

Especially for you, we've put together fourteen tips to help you learn better. One tip beforehand: Make sure you internalize the tips by making the your own... So, 'learn from within'.

1. cram-out the cramming: variate

Drumming up vocabulary for hours on end. Endless repetition until you can virtually dream about whatever it is you've learned. Being smart about it, or exactly the opposite? Studies show that variation provides better learning results. So, take in only bite-size chunks of information at a time and take an overview of the entirety at different intervals, while combining the information with other learning elements. So, don't spend an eternity practicing just that one golf swing, but several different swings at a same time. That increases your performance so you can reach your goals.

2. Don't get bogged down with one 'personal' learning style

How is your 'learning style' - the manner in which you take in learning material? Do you do that primarily visually or through text? Study shows that everybody prefers a certain learning style, but that learning performance does not improve when they cling to that one style. Also here the 'law of variation' applies. In fact, taking in a subject matter only in your preferred learning style deprives your brain of stimulation. Not every subject matter requires the same approach. Learn to think creatively.

3. Seek distraction

Do you put yourself in solitary confinement, completely isolated from the outside world? In the absence of external communicative stimulation? It would seem like the ideal environment to focus entirely on the subject matter. But, what is the case? Distraction is actually beneficial! Simply doing something else to break through a wrong thinking pattern, especially when you're stuck. A timeout will actually help retain your 'concentration', because your brain will continue to work through the subject matter. So, a telephone conversation certainly won't hurt. It's a matter of time management.

4. Variate locations

Fixed patterns. Do you also have them, in order to get yourself into studying mode? Sitting in that calibrated chair...at fixed times, for fixed periods of time... in your study ... with that same view, ever and always in that same position. Research tells us that also in this area much can be improved. Changing the place where we study, and the time, benefits the learning performance by allowing a connection between the subject matter and the learning environment. So, vary where, at which times and how you position yourself (standing, sitting or lying down) during the process of learning. It will give you vitality and energy.

5. Perseverance, aptitude and IQ

Aptitude, getting a high(er) score on an IQ-test. You're blessed if these are a part of your gene pool. But, when it comes to your learning performance, you shouldn't underestimate perseverance. According to several studies, qualities such as, 'drive' and 'persistence', when it comes to mastering a subject matter, would seem to be even more important than IQ. Being smart alone is not enough.

6. Practicing attention

Practice, practice and... practice some more. To improve your performances it is unavoidable. But, you don't get better at something just by simply 'putting in the hours'. It is very important how you practice and how you deal with feedback. Practicing attentively, with purpose and foremost very specifically, as well as making improvements based on collected outside response.

7. 'Flash'-reading

Speed reading. Very handy when you have to work your way through a pile of books. But do you actually benefit from this? Studies show that reading at an accelerated rate is not beneficial for understanding the text. It is better to sharpen your language skills, in terms of communication, on different levels. This way, retaining the information in a text remains intact, even at a higher rate of speed.

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7 tips for effective learning

And now, as icing on the cake, seven short tips. This is how your learn effectively.

  1. Sleep: so you will retain information better.
  2. Test: so you will better master the subject matter.
  3. Explain: so you will understand the essence.
  4. Move: to let body and mind connect.
  5. Believe: you can train your brain.
  6. Keep it quiet (or classical music): to maximize the retention of information
  7. Make mistakes: so you can do better in the future.

Which one of these tips are you going to start with? 

Source: B. Overvelde, Guest Psychologie, 13 October 2016

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