Effective Learning.

Students are always thinking of ways to learn better and faster (more effectively) in order to be successful. Within the limited resources available – students need to be able to learn new things; be able to understand it; and is abled to recall and to ultilize their learning effectively whenever needs arise.

Effective learning can be mastered. Students need to understand their own needs and interest; their ability to learn; their best way of learning and their understanding of the subject.

According to Alan Mumford, most people do not learn things, unless there is a purpose to the learning.The purpose may include :

  • A wish to increase their competence in their current work / study.
  • A wish to develop their competence in new areas of skills or knowledge.
  • A wish to improve their career prospects.
  • A wish to improve their personal satisfaction they get from their work / study.
  • A wish to gain the rewards associated to any of the followings : financial, psychological, social, etc.

People / students do not learn as effectively as they should due to:

  • They do not recognise an activity as learning – they simply see it as “doing a piece of work / exercise”.
  • They partially recognise something as involving learning, but fail to use the opportunity fully.
  • An off-the-job learning experience (homework/etc) is badly designed and/or poorly implemented.
  • The opportunity for learning is provided in a way which fits poorly with the way in which an individual likes to learn.
  • The learning opportunity is not perceived as relevant to the needs of, and benefits sought by the learner.

Learning is a process. It is built upon in stages. By analyzing how you study; you can figure out how to learn. It can be by memorizing, reading, speaking, summarizing, or by other methods.

Honey and Mumford, The Manual of Learning Styles, stated the following levels of learning:

  • Having an experience
  • Reviewing
  • Concluding
  • Planning

By giving sufficient attention to each stage of learning one could increase the chances of learning effectively. It can done in a quiet place by yourself or with a group.

Effective learning for individual requires a recognition that one of the reasons why individuals do not learn fully from any particular experience is that it may not match in the way they like to learn. So teachers have no reasons to be surprised by the facts that different students have different reactions to an apparently similar experience which could involve learning. Teachers instead should encourage students to find out how they learn/study best; be it in a quiet place, with music, with friends, early in the morning, late at night, etc.

Some principles of learning (and teaching) as outline in Science for All Americans Online – that teachers can use as guides to encourage their students learning – are as follows:

  1. Learning is not necessarily an outcome of teaching. Effective teaching emphasis on the  important concepts and skills ,so that the students can concentrate on the quality of understanding and not on quantity of information presented.
  2. What students learn is influenced by their existing ideas. Effective learning requires more than just making multiple connections of new ideas to old / exiting ones. Students must be encouraged to develop new views along the perspective of how such views help them to make better sense of the world.
  3. Progression in learning is usually from the concrete to the abstract. Most people dependent on concrete examples of new ideas, as the ability to understand abstract concepts; manipulate symbols; reason logically; and to make generalization - these skills develop slowly. Therefore, teachers should not overestimate the ability of their students to handle abstractions, or the use of the right words as evidence of their understanding of new concepts.
  4. People learn to do well only what they practice doing. Students must be encouraged and given the opportunity to learn to think critically, analyze information, communicate scientific ideas, make logical arguments, work as part of a team, and to acquire other desirable skills in different situational settings.
  5. Effective learning requires feedback. Students learn best when given the opportunities to express ideas and get feedback from their peers. These feedback must be analytical, suggestive, and to come at the time when needed by the student. The student must then be given time to reflect on it and be allowed to make adjustments or to try again.
  6. Expectations affect performance; students grow in self-confidence as they experience success in learning. So teachers need to provide students with challenging but attainable learning  situations and help them to succeed. Other than that, the positive and negative expectations shown by parents, counsellors, teachers, peers, etc – also have effect on the students expectations and behavior.

The following guides are listed by Kendra Van Wagner,  About Com. Psychology - to help students to become more effective learner.

  1. Memory Improvement Basics: To improve learning efficiency, students need to improve memory – through improving focus, avoiding cram sessions, structuring study time, etc.
  2. Keep Learning (and Practicing) New Things. An effective learner simply keep practicing and rehearsing new information learned.
  3. Learn in Multiple Ways. Find different ways to learn new information – discussion with friends, drawing mind maps, making notes, poems, etc.
  4. Teach What You’ve Learned to Another Person. One of the best way to learn is to share what you have learned to friends .
  5. Ultilize Previous Learning to Promote New Learning. In order to be an effective learner you have to relate new knowledge to things that you already know.
  6. Gain Practical Experience. Effective learning involve putting new knowledge and skills into practice.
  7. Look up Answers Rather than Struggle to Remember. If one has problem of forgetting certain facts learned, it is better to look up for the correct answer than trying to recall it.
  8. Understand How You Learn Best: One way to improve your learning efficiency is to recognize your learning habits and learning styles.
  9. Use Testing to Boost Learning. Research show that students who studied and were then tested can recall the materials learned better.
  10. Stop Multitasking. Research also indicate that students who focus their attention on the task at hand and continue working on it for a certain length of time are more effective learner than those who switched between tasks.

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