The Science of Learning – 5 Research-Backed Techniques that Work

Today’s blog is brought to you by Russell Michelson, the Director of Outreach for Better I thought it wold be especially useful since many people are learning at home these days! Here goes:

The modern world we live in is a continually advancing sphere with new skills becoming available all the time. To keep pace with rapidly evolving technology, you must upgrade your skills and abilities from time to time. Although learning at a younger age is more effortless, picking up new information is equally easy for adults. The human brain is an incredibly complex organ capable of great things. With the right learning techniques, you can accomplish just about anything. Here are some of the most effective strategies that have been scientifically proven to work.

  1. Practice and Repetition

Practicing a skill over and over again or trying to remember information trains the brain to perform better. Studies conducted by neuroscientists at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. have noted that when a person makes an effort to learn new skills with practice and repetition, the activity fires up brain cells. 

These neurons communicate with each other via electrical and chemical messages passed through axons. Each time an action is repeated, these axons are strengthened, and they become more efficient at relaying signals. After adequate repetition, the brain can perform the moves without consciously thinking about them. That’s the reason why the world’s best athletes, musicians, and experts in any field give flawless performances that are so impressive.

  1. Concentration and Intense Focus

Yet another technique for firing up neurons is concentration. If you focus intently on the materials, the brain has a higher probability of retaining them. Distractions like taking calls, responding to texts, and letting your attention wander divides up the brain’s attention. For this reason, you’ll take longer to retain a particular topic. If you can eliminate all distractions and concentrate entirely on a specific concept, you’ll have better retention after studying for a shorter time. 

Effective learning techniques are about avoiding any kind of multi-tasking, including study-related emails. If you find your attention is breaking or thinking of something else, make a conscious effort to focus on the task at hand. 

  1. Repeating Aloud to Ensure Understanding

Trying to learn by rote is one of the most ineffective methods. Cramming is essentially memorizing without understanding the concept. The chances are that you’ll forget everything soon. But, if you can actually make sense of the text, it’s easy to develop an in-depth view of how the idea functions. Committing it to memory will be a lot easier, and that’s where language skills come in. 

Talking about what you just reviewed helps you retain it better. That’s primarily why many students seem to perform better in group studies where each learner presents their version of the concepts.

Students should be able to read, comprehend, and repeat back what the material is all about. The inability to express and communicate is a critical issue that gets in the way of learning. Students who find language skills to be challenging can benefit from the therapy of a certified speech pathologist. In person or online speech therapy can help learners develop proper language skills for more effective study habits. 

  1. Retrieving Information by Testing

Testing and exam-taking are viewed negatively by many students who dread having to take them. In fact, asking questions trains your brain’s ability to retrieve the information it has memorized. If you cannot come up with answers, that’s an indication that you need to go back to reviewing the material and trying to remember it. 

Taking practice tests relevant to the coursework helps identify which concepts are not entirely clear. Or that you have trouble recalling them. You can go back to relearning them until retrieving the information is smoothly done. Practice testing has another crucial advantage. The brain transfers the materials from short-term memory to long-term memory. In this way, you’ll ensure retaining the skills for life. 

  1. Interweaving or Distributed Practice

Adopting this learning technique is ideal for students who find it hard to concentrate on a single concept for too long. If you develop a mental block after an hour or so, refresh the mind by switching to another unrelated course. For instance, if you absolutely cannot review another chemical reaction, move on to solving math problems for a while. Giving your brain a break after short sessions is a perfect strategy for improved memory.

Adopting the right learning techniques that work best for you provides that all-essential edge when picking up new skills and courses. Choose the method that helps you retain materials and stay with it.