Active Studying

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A. Introduction

Learning new concepts is a time consuming process. Most people do not pick up new concepts instantly. Learning is a repetitive process that requires the utilization of active learning. New concepts are learned after long hours of repetitive study.

B. Mnemonics

Mnemonics is a method used to associate familiar concepts with new and confusing ones. One way to utilize this method is to use a word you’re familiar with and take the first letter of each word to list concepts you’re trying to learn. The following are examples of this method:

  1. What are the guaranteed rights listed in the First Amendment? (mnemonic hint: SPAR)
    Freedom of:
    • S : Speech
    • P : Press
    • A : Assembly
    • R : Religion
  2. What factors contributed to the Great Depression (mnemonic hint: DSL)
    • D : Deflation, caused by interest rate hikes following the stock market crash
    • S : Stock Market crash of 1929
    • L : Low interest rates prior to the crash, resulting in excessive stock market speculation

Use the second example if you must memorize a sequence of events. However, if you only need to memorize names, use the first mnemonic example. If you’re required to memorize a large set of items, such as all the countries in Europe, break the list into manageable chunks. It’s often helpful to create a set of flash cards with the mnemonic hint on one side and information you’re memorizing on the opposite side.

C. Study Cards

Students who use study cards are learning through the use of kinetic energy, a way to imprint information in the brain. Students also benefit by using study cards since they can carry them wherever they go. Students who use study cards are encouraged to read aloud during study sessions. It’s not easy to imprint information in the brain through passive reading. You must expend energy to learn new and confusing concepts. When reading aloud, students are expending energy by speaking and stimulating the brain.

D. Memory

  1. Some tips for improving memory retention:
    1. Students must place their focus on what needs to be memorized. Students who remain focused on memorizing new concepts will recall information better than those who passively study.
    2. Students must be passionate about what they’re trying to learn. In other words, they must approach what they’re studying with a positive attitude. Saying: “I don’t need to know this for my career,” will hamper the learning process. Students who read supplementary books and articles on subjects related to what they’re trying to learn often master new concepts.
    3. Students who associate new concepts with ones they’re familiar with typically have an easier time remembering new concepts.
    4. Students who repeat a process over and over, such as when learning the steps to solve a math problem, better retain information.
  2. To better retain something you just learned, associate it with familiar concepts. The following statistics relate to memory retention and learning methods. Students typically remember:
    1. 10 percent of what they read in textbooks and other assigned readings
    2. 20 percent of what is taught during classroom lectures
    3. 30 percent of what is seen in visual presentations
    4. 50 percent of what is presented visually during lectures
    5. 70 percent of what they teach their peers
    6. 90 percent of what is performed during hands-on learning exercises

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