Ok, so you have learned some theory – maybe your teacher explained you the theory or perhaps you have read it from somewhere. This theory is somewhere in your short term memory, because it is fresh and not well integrated into the rest of you “scope” of knowledge. You still have very little appreciation of why this theory will be useful and how it relates to the “bigger scheme” of your current knowledge.
Many students find that they simply go through theory, answer questions and believe that this is the only method of learning effectively. However for a large number of students this is simply not enough – because when they need to convert their “knowledge” of the topic into practical use, through question answering, it is very difficult to tap into “application” of theory straight away. Some talented students are able to have the vision of how things “fall into place” and apply it directly. However for the majority of students this becomes a fairly challenging process. The first thing to remember however is that there is nothing wrong with individuals that can’t convert short term material into practical use directly. There are methods that you can use in order to covert something you know about, into a practical format.
Step 1: L.E.A.R.N, the way to really learn material!
One of the methods which can be used is known as L.E.A.R.N… we try and keep our tools as easy to remember, to prevent the students having “information overload”. So what is this L.E.A.R.N method anyway?
Since the knowledge is new you need to listen. Sadly most students simply nod, yawn or become preoccupied with their surroundings. Some sit at their desks daydreaming or worrying about past/future events. Many students listen passively, instead of thinking about what their teacher says or about what they are reading. You should be listening with full awareness of what is going on, and you should be 100% focussed on what the teacher is saying. If you have a question jot it down quickly but never lose sight/flow of what the teacher is saying. 100% of focus is necessary at all times.
After you have listened critically, try and explore a wider range of resources to complement your current knowledge. Perhaps you can look for notes, more detailed material on the internet. Or maybe you can listen to a free podcast on the topic or some educational videos of it on YouTube. There are numerous animations, illustrations, essays, books and articles about the topic you are studying online! You should also go to the library, maybe even a university library and use their books – some of the illustrations and diagrams are excellent to give you a wider perspective on the topic. Don’t just simply rely on what you have learned from your teacher – make you knowledge more detailed! Become a professional in your subject of study.
Asking questions is a great way to learn. The more questions you ask, the more dynamic your thinking becomes. If you questions the theory and are curious about how things inter-relate and work, then you will find that you develop a deep understanding of the material. Many students don’t ask questions – not because they know the theory, but simply that:
(1) they were not listening critically and actively during the lesson
(2) they don’t know what to ask because they are still confused about what they have heard.
This is why it is imperative to complete the exploring step, to increase the scope of your knowledge and then to ask good questions, not simply questions about foundations but questions involving the more complex bits.
For the knowledge to be really well integrated in you long term memory. The more you explore and look through resources on the internet and books – you will find that the concepts become familiar and you are able to recognise the theory. Once you have stored the theory into long term memory you will find studying for exams much easier because once you simply need to reactivate that “neuronal pathway” it does not have to be built from scratch – no more “brain overload” syndrome!
Many students write notes, rewrite them over and over again. There are many ways of writing effective, useful notes that will save your time studying, not use it up! Writing notes that are in question/answer format is a good way of increasing your critical thinking skills and having a quick reference to important concepts. Be sure that you write notes only after you have completely understood the theory, as this will reinforce the repetition step. Try and make your notes on the computer, so you can edit them. Also ask your teacher/tutor to look over the notes so that it can be double-checked.
If you are interested in developing your student skills we recommend that you attend our Student Success Seminar held throughout the year – you can also purchase the Student success Manual from our product page. Thankyou.