Showing all posts tagged #learning-support:

Habits of Mind

Posted on May 26th, 2016

Habits of Mind is a term used by Arthur Costa and Bena Kallick to describe 16 different attributes that they discovered people display when they act in an intelligent and thoughtful manner. These 16 attributes are not comprehensive but are a good starting point for reflecting on our behavior and looking for ways to better ourselves. By working on strengthening these skills, we better prepare ourselves to be reflective and "get into the habit of behaving intelligently. A Habit of Mind is a pattern of intellectual behaviors that leads to productive actions." (Costa, Learning and Leading with Habits of Mind)

The 16 Habits of Mind are:


Posted on May 19th, 2016

I’m sure all of you have experienced the feeling of truly getting lost in a task, an experience where you no longer were aware of time or even yourself and were purely focused on what you were doing. This feeling of being “in the zone" is what psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls “flow" and it is the process of the brain diverting all its attention to a single task, where the brain and body both work at peak performance.

Artists, musicians, and writers enter into states of flow to create. Extreme athletes enter into it to perform death-defying stunts. And technological innovators enter it to come up with the next big thing. But flow is something that everyone experiences and can get better at.

This blog, which is too long to copy here, provides an excellent summary of little tasks that you can do to better improve your ability to enter into the zone and work at your peak potential.
Mat Ford, the blog’s author, also goes into more detail about the neuroscience behind flow here. You can also learn more about flow from this TED Talk by Csikszentmihalyi (here’s a Youtube video on how to pronounce his name) or in this article here.

A Few Helpful Study Strategies

Posted on May 5th, 2016

This week’s post is a compilation of good posts on effective study strategies, all found on the Brainscape Blog. (Brainscape is a helpful online study sight that allows you to create online flashcards.) I’ve highlighted the main points of each strategy below, but feel free to click on them to read the whole post.

  1. Minimize the amount of information per card.
  2. Only write down relevant information.
  3. Use multiple cards if you need to know lots of information.
  4. Use keywords and bullet lists rather than long sentences and paragraphs.
  5. Vary the types of questions on the front of the cards.

  1. Consider studying with people who are not close friends.
  2. Review the material before meeting - assign each person a section to look over beforehand.
  3. Ask questions of your group - chances are you are not the only one confused.
  4. Mix in group sessions with individual sessions for maximal learning and retention.

Short answer: Yes, because you not only see the material, but also produce it (by speaking) and hear it. However, "simply reading without categorizing, asking questions, and making connections does not do anything to organize the material in your mind." You need to make these connections to understand how to apply what you’ve read. So don’t just read things out loud once and think you’ve got it.

  • It is unclear if background music helps or hinders studying. There is some evidence that it can be beneficial when performing complex tasks, but also evidence that shows it can be detrimental to memorization.
  • It appears that ambient noise can be distracting when doing the most difficult tasks and in these cases, silence is best.
  • When doing easy or moderately difficult tasks, ambient noise might actually benefit creative thinking.
  • Conclusion:
    • "When you are feeling overwhelmed by the workload, added stimuli of noise may not be ideal. When you need an extra boost of creativity, music or background noise may help. If you are getting bored by what you are studying, it’s a much more personal decision. Noise may be the filter you need to focus or just one more distraction holding you back."

The (Unexpected) Benefits of Reading

Posted on April 28th, 2016

Some surprising correlations (if not causations) about reading.

Insightful Video Series on Studying

Posted on April 8th, 2016

Dr. Chew is a psychology professor at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, USA. He made this video series to help freshman adjust to studying and learning in the college environment, but it’s full of wonderful information about how people learn and how to study, information that applies to just about everybody. Each video is about 5-10 minutes and worth the time.

How Memory Works Infographic

Posted on April 7th, 2016

Here’s an insightful short infographic explaining how memories are formed, stored, and recalled. If you want to improve your memory, make sure you practice recalling the information frequently and utilize strategies such as analogies and vivid imagery. The infographic is courtesy of Brainscape, a useful online flashcard app.



Posted on March 22nd, 2016

Coursera is a fantastic resource for life-long learners. It is a database of thousands of online courses from many of the world’s top universities (Stanford, Duke, Johns Hopkins, Princeton, and many, many more). The courses cover all kinds of things (I took a great one called Learning How to Learn from the University of California, San Diego) and last several weeks or months. With Coursera, you have access to any college course you could possibly want, paced in such a way that you can do it with your free time. And the best part is that the courses are all quite inexpensive and, in many cases, if you don’t care about getting a certificate saying you completed it, absolutely free. I highly recommend checking it out.

Some of the thousands of available courses:

Reducing Test Anxiety

Posted on March 17th, 2016

The following are some helpful strategies for reducing anxiety about taking tests and putting you in a position to your best possible work:
  • Have a plan B for if the test doesnt go well
    • So what would happen if you failed? What does that mean? What would you do?
    • Facing your fears and having a plan for the worse can often open your eyes that the worst is not that bad. Yeah, it would stink, but you would get over it.
  • Similarly, try to change your frame of mind to be excited rather than fearful
    • Take that anxiety you feel and have it work for you.
    • Think of the test as an opportunity to show off your knowledge and youre more likely to succeed than if you see it as a negative experience.
  • Consciously relax your tongue
    • I have no idea why this works, but apparently it does. Just dont drool over your test.


Posted on March 10th, 2016

This Wall Street Journal article is a great read about the benefits of doodling. According to the article:

Recent research in neuroscience, psychology and design shows that doodling can help people stay focused, grasp new concepts and retain information. A blank page also can serve as an extended playing field for the brain, allowing people to revise and improve on creative thoughts and ideas.

Just be sure to use doodling as a tool and to not as a distraction. It can help foster your creativity and allow you to make some unique and amazing connections. So sharpen your pencil and try doodling next time you’re struggling to stay focused in class.

(And no, your doodles don’t have to fancy or beautiful or great art - whatever works for you.)

More from the article:

Michiko Maruyama, a medical-school student, says she writes down key words during class lectures and later draws "daily doodles" that bring together what she learned. Ms. Maruyama, who attends the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, says she fills gaps in her understanding while she draws images of gastric secretions, hernias and other subjects of study.

"It's not until I doodle that I think about how everything comes together. I find out what I know and what I don't know," she says. When she stopped doodling for a week, her grades went down.

How To Learn Anything Faster

Posted on March 3rd, 2016

Here’s a nifty infographic that reminds you of five steps you can take to improve your studying:
This infographic and many others can be found at


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