Learning how to learn

I’m about to start Coursera’s “Learning How to Learn“4-week course. Already I’m excited. The introductory reading featured an excerpt from Barbara Oakley‘s A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel in Math and Science (Even if You Flunked Algebra) on the Top 10 Rules of Good (and Bad) Studying. As a seasoned educator, Barbara is spot on with her recommendations.

Here are the top 3 and if you want to see the rest check it out here.

1. Use recall. After you read a page, look away and recall the main ideas. Highlight very little, and never highlight anything you haven’t put in your mind first by recalling. Try recalling main ideas when you are walking to class or in a different room from where you originally learned it. An ability to recall—to generate the ideas from inside yourself—is one of the key indicators of good learning.

2. Test yourself. On everything. All the time. Flash cards are your friend. [This aligns with American RadioWork’s recent podcast on the “Science of Smart.”]

3. Chunk your problems. Chunking is understanding and practicing with a problem solution so that it can all come to mind in a flash. After you solve a problem, rehearse it. Make sure you can solve it cold—every step. Pretend it’s a song and learn to play it over and over again in your mind, so the information combines into one smooth chunk you can pull up whenever you want.


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