Learning new things is a crucial skill for students and a common long-term goal for a successful life and career. Using learning techniques can help you become an effective learner. The best learning methods use memory and cognition research to create study techniques that work for different learning styles.
Contemporary educational psychology is full of new learning ideas and deep learning methods. This guide on how to learn learning techniques will cover some of the most common learning methods and provide tips for how to improve long-term retention of new information.
Best Learning Technique Examples
Learners usually have different learning styles that differentiate their learning needs from one another. Some are auditory learners who process information best by listening, while others are kinesthetic learners who learn better through movement and interaction. Below are some different learning techniques to try.
Interleaved practice is when you switch between different related concepts at random instead of learning everything in one category before moving on. This allows your brain to make comparisons between different concepts for deeper understanding. According to MIT Open Learning, interleaved practice has been shown to work well in both in-class and online learning.
Retrieval practice involves recalling a concept, an answer, or a topic that you have learned earlier without referring to any learning material. Practice tests and flashcards are common retrieval practice methods. Whether you are learning a popular programming language for machine learning or a high school algebra, retrieval practice can help you remember new material.
The Feynman Technique
The Feynman technique requires learners to simplify a complex concept so that they can teach it to someone else. This learning technique is named after the famous scientist Dr. Richard Feynman. This is an active learning technique that requires learners to participate rather than passively absorb information. Research suggests this is an effective tool to use in online learning.
Spaced practice involves distributing learning over extended periods of time to retain it longer. When you try to learn a lot in a short period of time, you usually forget a lot. For long-term retention, it’s better to space out your learning. Divide your study sessions into smaller parts with breaks in between.
Massed practice is the opposite of spaced practice. With this study technique, learners have long learning sessions without taking breaks. The long study sessions are a more efficient way to spend time. This technique is the most effective for learning a particular skill such as programming or a sports technique.
Mind mapping is one of the most effective learning techniques for visual learners. It involves creating a visual organization of information to map out connections between concepts. You can draw your mind map on paper or use an online tool. Either way, it’s a great memory and cognition tool to make your study sessions more interesting and less overwhelming.
This learning method focuses on learning through flashcards, and is an ideal learning technique for visual learners. In the Leitner System, you organize your flashcards into three categories. These are daily, every other day, and weekly. Start with all your cards in the daily category. As you learn each card, move it to the next less frequent pile. By using these three different retention intervals, you can be a more effective learner.
The SQ3R method is a five-step process where readers survey, question, read, recite, and review material for effective reading comprehension. First skim the text for context, next ask a question about each section of the text and read the entire text. Now see if you can answer your questions as a quick practice test. Finally, review your notes on the section.
How to Learn Something New
- Create a learning plan. Before you start learning, define your learning needs and create a plan for yourself. Include your learning objectives, techniques, and time frame. Keep referring to it during the learning process to keep track of your progress.
- Understand the fundamentals. Whatever you are learning, focus on building a strong foundation for fundamental concepts. Take your time to understand the basic concepts.
- Take notes. Whether you are learning a lesson in school or a new skill to improve your career, use a notebook and pen to take notes in shorthand. You can use a smartphone or laptop, but according to scholarly research, using traditional note-taking methods helps you retain information better.
- Evaluate your performance. Take practice tests to see how well you are learning. Self-evaluation can help you determine if you reached your learning goal or if you need to keep studying.
- Repeat and sustain. Once you have completed all four steps and achieved a short-term goal, repeat the process for your next goal. Maintain consistency and keep learning.
Learning Ideas: Top 5 Tips to Master Learning
Your learning outcomes depend on your approach to learning. If you don’t use the right approach, you might waste valuable time using a technique that doesn’t work for you. For effective learning, use these helpful tips to speed up your learning process.
Practice is the key to mastering any skill. Practice enhances learning by allowing you to test your knowledge and apply it to real-world situations. Apply your new learning to everyday examples and use practice tests over a long period of time to check your long-term retention.
Practice Relational Learning
Learning is effective when you can relate it to things you already know. For instance, if you are learning about machine learning and you already know contemporary educational psychology, try to relate machine learning ideas to what you know about human learning. This retrieval and revision of information leads to effective learning.
Find Relevant Examples
Examples aid the learning process by making material relatable for learners. Find concrete examples of the concept you are learning and discuss them with your instructor to make sure it applies.
Use a Combination of Techniques
Different learning methods are more or less effective for different student characteristics. Don’t restrict yourself to one learning technique, instead diversify your learning routine with a combination of different strategies that target your learning needs. An efficient learner uses a combination of tools.
Share Your Learning With Others
An effective strategy to enhance learning for auditory learners is to share new information with someone else. It is a great way to test your knowledge and figure out what you actually know. Sharing information forces your brain to retrieve stored information and simplify it to make it understandable for others. This process results in long-term retention of new material.
Are Learning Techniques Worth Learning?
Yes, learning techniques are worth learning. They provide a strong foundation to effectively learn about anything. These techniques help you comprehend complex topics and help you retain new information. Efficient learning helps you set and achieve career goals to succeed and sets the foundation for your professional growth.
Learning Techniques FAQ
Some of the best and most effective learning methods are spaced practice, interleaved practice, retrieval practice, mind mapping, and the Leitner system. Statista reports that employees mainly prefer group learning in a classroom over other learning methods. Learning methods vary from person to person on the basis of their learning needs.
Yes, hands-on learning works better for learning new skills, but it is difficult to convey certain types of information through hands-on learning. According to Statista, 90 percent of employees preferred using hands-on learning to learn a new skill at work.
Practice testing is an effective learning technique and it is a key component of retrieval practice. Taking a practice test can help students see how well they are retaining information. While practice testing isn’t a deep learning method, it is a way for students to see if their other learning methods are working.
To become an efficient learner you need to find what learning methods match your learning style. For example, auditory learners won’t get much out of drawing a mind map, but teaching a concept to a friend would work well for an auditory learner. There are plenty of different learning methods to match all kinds of student characteristics.
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