The learning brain: Study strategies


This week I am completing the audible version of “The Learning Brain” course, presented by award-winning University of Michigan professor Thad Polk.

A particularly curious lecture “Strategies for Effective Explicit Learning“ inspired me to share this quick note on the blog. The lecture discusses the most common (and often inefficient) study strategies and those scientifically proven to work better. Surprise - I was doing it wrong!

What doesn’t work:

  1. Re-reading - generates a false feeling that you know the content, but does not store it in the long term memory nor does it guaranteed that you actually understand everything you read;

  2. Highlights - these are subjective selections of content pieces that cut from the context.

What works:

  1. Generating explanations (in your own words) - makes you think and look for deeper insights;

  2. Interleaved practice - creates stronger neural pathways;

  3. Paced / interval learning - helps process and contextualize the content, plus your brain gets to rest;

  4. Self testing - strategies like flash cards help you summarize key ideas and consolidate your memory.

Below is the course trailer, in case you find the topic interesting and want to delve deeper.