Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Learning to learn

Learning to learn involves different techniques. These techniques apply in any subject whether it's math, science. languages, social study. etc. In this blog I am going to show a process of leaning that one can use before starting to learn a subject. To learn effectively you have to:

  • Know yourself
  • Know your capacity to learn
  • The process used successfully in the past
  • Your interest and knowledge in the subject you want to learn
The process involves four steps and there are questions in each one that someone can answer. The answers can be used to plan a study strategy in combination with some other study techniques.

Step One: Begin with the past. Answer questions about your past learning experiences.

Learning experiences are of several types: reading, solving problems, memorizing, reciting, interpreting, speaking to groups, etc. Some people might get the information by reading it. Others might take time to memorize it by reading several times. Others learn by direct involvement in the subject at hand i.e either by doing, solving problems and teaching to others. Some learners like to summarize the information and ask questions about what they study. Some like to get the information from a variety of sources. Others like to study alone or in group. Other learners might like to get the information in short study sessions or in a longer one. Answer the following questions about your past study habits:
Did you

    • like to read? solve problems? memorize? recite? interpret? speak to groups?
    • know how to summarize?
    • ask questions about what you studied?
    • review?
    • have access to information from a variety of sources?like quiet or study groups?need several brief study sessions, or one longer one?
What are your study habits?

How did they evolve? Which worked best? worst?
How did you communicate what you learned best? Through a written test, a term paper, an interview?
Step two: Proceed to the present
You have to evaluate your level of interest and the amount of time you need to spend to learn the subject you want to learn. Ask yourself what can prevent you from focusing on the subject. what circumstances you can control and others that are out of your control. Can you change these conditions for success? You need to have a plan that include your past study habits and your learning style.  Here are the questions you need to ask yourself:
How interested am I in this?
How much time do I want to spend learning this?
What competes for my attention?
Are the circumstances right for success?
What can I control, and what is outside my control?
Can I change these conditions for success?
What affects my dedication to learning this?
Do I have a plan? Does my plan consider my past experience and learning style?
Step three: Consider the process, the subject matter
 In learning a subject there are many strategies that one can use. First one has to get an idea of the title of the topic and learn the meaning of the key words. There might be other resources that can help to learn the subject or one might want to stay with one source. As you read the material it's necessary to ask yourself whether you understand or not, evaluate the reading speed to see if you can go quickly or more slowly. At some point it's worth to stop and summarize, ask if the concepts make sense. One can ask also whether one disagrees or not with the ideas in the material. Some times you might want to think the concepts over and come back later. You might also want to discuss the material with other learners or to consult a subject matter expert. Here are the questions to ask:

What is the heading or title?
What are key words that jump out?
Do I understand them?

What do I know about this already?
Do I know related subjects?
What kinds of resources and information will help me?
Will I only rely on one source (for example, a textbook) for information?
Will I need to look for additional sources?
As I study, do I ask myself whether I understand?
Should I go more quickly or more slowly?
If I don't understand, do I ask why?
Do I stop and summarize?
Do I stop and ask whether it's logical?
Do I stop and evaluate (agree/disagree)?
Do I just need time to think it over and return later?
Do I need to discuss it with other "learners" in order to process the information?
Do I need to find an authority, such as a teacher, a librarian, or a subject-matter expert?
Step four: Evaluate
In this process you evaluate your learning experiences. You ask yourself questions about what went right and how you can improve. You can ask yourself if your plan coincide with strengths and weaknesses. You can see whether you succeed or not and celebrate your success. Here are the questions you can ask yourself at this step:
What did I do right?
What could I do better?
Did my plan coincide with how I work with my strengths and weaknesses?

Did I choose the right conditions?
Did I follow through; was I disciplined with myself?
Did I succeed?
Did I celebrate my success?
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