If you’ve almost finished high school and will soon be starting university, why not kick off your studies with some new learning goals?
Finding the best learning strategies for you can get you off to a great start and help you manage your studies. We’ll introduce you to a range of learning techniques.
Organization and structure
It is important to organize and structure your study material so that you can learn effectively. Do you like to write everything in one notebook? This can easily lead to chaos.
Organize your materials regularly and file them according to the individual subjects to avoid confusion. This will help you establish a good basis and overview for all stages of learning.
Understanding the subject matter
Sitting helplessly in front of your books with no idea what they are all about is not a good way to start. As trivial as it may sound, establishing and developing an understanding of your subject matter is an essential learning technique.
If the material provided by your lecturers or teachers doesn’t make sense to you, ask your fellow students or classmates for help and let them explain the subject to you. You can also find additional material in books or online to help you get an overview.
Once you have gained a general understanding of a topic, express your knowledge in your own words. Formulating ideas independently helps you to store information more effectively and makes it easier to recall in exams.
Mind maps can be a useful tool for expanding your knowledge of a topic and understanding contexts. These diagrams stimulate your visual memory and you will be able to recall them mentally in an exam.
They can help you to visualize connections step by step and retrieve additional information from your memory. Color coding different sections of your notes enables you to associate particular topics with specific colors and this can help you to remember the points listed in your notes.
Be the architect of your mind
Where would we be without mnemonic devices? The term ‘mnemonic’, which comes from Ancient Greek, means ‘relating to memory’.
This learning technique involves using rhymes, acronyms, and memorable phrases to actively train your brain.
The ABC method is a similar technique in which you associate words you want to learn with images and then connect those images to letters. This method is especially effective for learning vocabulary.
For example, if you want to use the ABC method to learn the French word ‘étude’ meaning ‘study,’ you could think of your university logo because you associate it with your studies. When you think of the letter E and visualize the university logo, you remember the word in the foreign language.
The method of loci is another learning technique which involves creating mental connections. This method entails walking a familiar route in your mind and positioning information you want to learn along that route.
For example, you could visualize your route to university. In your mind, you position the first item by the front door and then continue walking. You place the next item at the intersection, and the next at the bus stop, and so on, until you reach the university. When you need to access this knowledge, you follow the route in your mind and recall the items you positioned there beforehand. However, this technique requires some practice as you can’t retrieve all the information at once. So start off simply with a few details.
The memory palace is similar to the loci method. In this case, however, you position your information in a palace or house. You construct a building with the information you want to learn.
The foundations represent the main topic. The walls and columns are the things you need to learn, and the roof serves as additional information and details.
The purpose of these four methods is for you to build up images that you can associate with the content you need to learn.
Learning on the move
You may not always have time to sit down and learn at home. These two simple methods enable you to practice even on the bus or train.
You probably already know and use the first method: index cards are ideal when you are on the move. These small, handy cards fit easily into your pocket or bag. And you can even kill two birds with one stone: preparing key points for the cards involves you focusing intensely on your learning material. You can then use the cards for revision and to strengthen your long-term memory.
The second method is using podcasts. You can find numerous podcasts on a wide range of topics on the Internet. If you can’t find the content you’re looking for, why not create your own podcast? Use your mobile phone to record your own voice memos.
There are many more strategies to help you remember content in the long-term. The first step to successful learning is gaining a solid understanding of what you need to learn. You can build on this with a variety of other techniques and create entire palaces of memory.
Which technique will you try first?
What type of learner are you?
In part 2 of ‘Effective learning strategies: which approach is best for me?,’ we’ll look at different learning styles and discuss which strategies are best suited to each type of learner.
If you want to find out more about your learning style and which strategies are best for you, don’t miss our next article on Friday, May 17, 2019.