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Carrington College Blog

Improve The Way You Learn…

March 27, 2012

Group StudyThink back to your grade school days… Did your parents, siblings, and teachers give you advice on the best way to study? The common thinking was that if you locked yourself away in a quiet room and immersed yourself in the subject, you would be able to memorize what you had to learn. Sound familiar? Well it now seems that all that great advice might have been wrong!

According to a New York Times report, many of the historically accepted study methods and habits are actually scientifically unsound! You can read the article itself using the above link, but we’ve pulled out some of the key points here, and added a few from our own experience at Carrington College.

  • ‘Location Location Location’ – While a library or study room may work for some students, scientists suggest that changing where you study can help you to retain information. Your memory is impacted by location, so a change of scene can help you remember more.
  • ‘Talk to the Animals’ – Repeating information you’ve learned out loud can help your brain hold on to information. So try explaining things to your dog! He won’t care what you’re saying, but he’ll love the attention, and the exercise may help reinforce the material in your memory.
  • ‘Peer to Peer’ Study groups can really help. Get a group together and work through an assignment, test each other’s knowledge, or take turns in explaining certain procedures (especially helpful if you don’t have a dog – see the point above!) Why not utilize an off day to apply your practical skills together in a lab?
  • ‘Don’t cram…learn’ – Last minute cramming may get you through a test, but it’s not the best way to absorb information for the long term. What happens when you move on to the next class and need the material learned in the previous class? Most of the crammed information has gone…
  • ‘Swim…don’t sink’ – According to the New York Times report, scientists have found that immersion is not an effective way to study. Don’t spend hours on the one subject, you’ll feel like you’re drowning in information. Regularly switching between a couple of related topics will help to keep you engaged, and consequently learn more.
  • ‘Testing, Testing’ – We all hate tests; well most of us for sure…but formal tests and exams can enhance our level of knowledge and understanding. Consistent testing can help us recall subject matter, and it can pay dividends when preparing for final exams.
  • ‘Practice does make perfect’ Most Carrington College certificate and degree programs have an externship element. This period of practical experience may be the most valuable tool at your disposal, so make the most of it. Yes classroom work is vital too, but putting your new found knowledge and skills into practice can be one of the best ways to improve learning. Don’t wait for your externship – take every opportunity to hone your practical skills in the lab or study room.
  • ‘Flash cards work’ – Not all the old techniques are wrong. Flash cards are still an effective method of learning. Writing things down, and repeating them out loud does help imprint information. Flash cards combine some elements that we’ve touched on here – testing, repeating out loud, working with peers, and you can take them with you to work in different locations.

There is no magic secret to becoming a better learner, but some of these tips may help. Don’t forget to speak to your Carrington instructors – they may have helpful hints of their own that could work for you.