Tag Archives: study skills

“Exercise in repeatedly recalling a thing strengthens the memory.”   Do you despise testing? Perhaps you’d feel more open to the tremendous value of testing if you knew that one of humanity’s great philosophers and scientists fully endorsed the practice. Aristole saw the connection between repeatedly recalling a thing (testing) and remembering a thing (learning). The testing effect, as it is called, powers academic performance in a way that mere reading never can. All those students who adopt reading and rereading texts as their primary study strategy miss out on the educational impact of active recall of targeted information. Psychologists Henry L. Roediger III and Jeffrey D. Karpicke contributed much to our understanding of the testing effect in their review of a century of research into learning. They also conducted their own insightful research into the subject. Considering that the title of their findings was Test-Enhanced Learning: Taking Memory Tests…

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After over 25 years of trying to explain what complex standardized instruments like the SAT or ACT are meant to test, I still find the general explanation of “math, verbal, and test taking skills” woefully inadequate. Just as frustrating is the disconnect between the way these skills are tests in school as opposed to the exams themselves. Why is SAT math, for example, so different from school math, even though the discrete subject matter overlaps entirely? A recent comment from deep thinker Shane Parrish of Farnam Street helped me wrap my head around why the conventional view of what is tested fails to describe how multifarious and sophisticated those skills are: We tend to think of meta skills as the skill. For example, we default to thinking that reading is a skill. But there is really no skill called reading. Reading is the meta-skill that results when you alloy other…

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Now that we’ve all experienced months of enforced remote instruction, we’ve learned how challenging online learning can be for those who never acquired the right skills: How to manage online learning platforms and tools What responsibilities online learners have in the process How to engage with both instructors and other students How to manage your physical workspace and schedule How to take effective notes for both retention and review    Let a professional educator who teaches both college and medical students online show you how to become a better online learner in ways that will lead to enhanced academic, professional, and personal success. Don’t wait until the next crisis to master these essential skills. The best time to become a better online learner is NOW!   This seminar is part of our June Seminar Series. The fee is $25 for this program or $99 for as many of the June…

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Recently, I taught some classes on the changes to the spring 2020 Advanced Placement (AP) exams. Aside from learning about the specific changes for those tests, I had the opportunity to review good online teaching and testing. In general, the issues for students are similar to those they always face: what needs to be done to learn effectively and test well? Similarly, instructors still need to be able to have clear objectives, provide an effective teaching environment, and build confidence. The challenge for instructors is working in a novel teaching environment. What issues are impacted by learning online? First, more and more students will look for information online. While this is nothing new, I believe a lack of guidance can lead students to unreliable sources. As instructors, we need to teach students good practices, such as determining what makes a good source. For example, the dependence on Google searches has…

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We live in a golden age of self-directed education. Where motivated students once had to entomb themselves in libraries to drink from the font of knowledge, now those thirsty for learning merely need to plug into the web to uncover the secrets of the universe in text, audio, and video formats. Whether you want to know how to change a light switch, fold a cloth napkin into a swan, or solve systems of equations, you’ll have no problem finding free tutorials on that exact topic. Why, then, do we still have schools? While we all tend to get excited about unfettered access to free learning resources, we all still prize–and patronize–teachers, tutors, and coaches. Why pay premiums to attend superior high schools or colleges and dole out additional sums to educational, athletic, and artistic coaches when brand name schools offer free courses online? Obviously, we continue to prioritize live education…

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In education–as in all other things–we must never mistake effort for achievement. Far too many people are taught much yet learn little. In fact, many students find themselves buried under an avalanche of information without gleaning much in the way of knowledge. One area the discrepancy between teaching and learning becomes apparent is in a student’s notes. Prolific note-takers may fill page after hopefully handwritten page with copious names, dates, and facts, only to lose the essential framework that ties all these discrete pieces of trivia together. One path to distilling excess information into real knowledge is the shrinking outline method. STEP 1. A shrinking outline comes in handy when an original outline contains too much information to be manageable. So start with an unwieldy body of sequential notes. STEP 2. Spend time studying these notes, looking for the main ideas that contain and connect the smaller points. Create a…

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