Critical thinking is an essential skill in our age of constant information (and misinformation), but our own subconscious biases don’t help matters much when it comes to sorting out truth from viral nonsense. This graphic outlines some of those biases, complete with examples so you understand how pervasive they can really be.
Students often tend to study subjects they’re comfortable with, rather than facing a challenge. Salman Khan, founder of the Khan Academy, understands this fear, and has some advice to lift you out of your comfort zone.
Recently I’ve been trying to locate the evidence that supports quizzing, wondering if it merits the evidence-based label. Tracking down this evidence in our discipline-based research is challenging because although quizzing has been studied across our disciplines, it’s not easily searchable. My collection of studies is good, but I know it’s not complete. As you might suspect, the results are mixed; they are more positive than negative, but still, a significant number of researchers don’t find that quizzes affect learning outcomes.
Lauren R. Weinstein is a cartoonist based in New Jersey. She is currently working on a graphic novel tentatively entitled How to Draw a Nose. Her previous books include Girl Stories and The Goddess of War.
Even the most dedicated study plan can be undone by a failure to understand how human memory works. Only when you’re aware of the trap set for us by overconfidence, can you most effectively deploy the study skills you already know about.
I'm becoming increasingly convinced that "chunking" is the mother of all learning--or at least the fairy godmother. Chunking is what happens when you know something so well--like a song, or a scientific formula, or a verb conjugation, or a dance routine--that it is basically a snap to call it to mind and do it or use it. Creating neural patterns--"neural chunks"--underpins the development of all expertise. We can use metaphors (another powerful learning technique!) to help us understand these ideas.
If you need help jogging your memory, you might try your hand at drawing. A recent study found that we remember items better when we draw them rather than write them down.
In a study published in The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, researchers conducted a series of experiments asking subjects to draw or write down different items. Overall, the study found that subjects were better able to recall the items when they drew them.
Many young people want to succeed but often have very limited learning and study skills. Frequently, study technique is described as a concoction of reading and highlighting notes, with perhaps some essay planning thrown in for good measure.
Yet if these haven’t worked in the past, they won’t work now.
When it comes to kids, growth mindset is a hot topic in education. Studies indicate that children who view intelligence as pliable and responsive to effort show greater persistence when encountering new or difficult tasks. In contrast, children who view intelligence as static or “fixed” have a harder time rebounding from academic setbacks or are reluctant to take on new challenges that might be difficult.
During the past 20 years, college and university faculty have begun to utilize several areas of the learning sciences (including cognitive psychology) to inform pedagogy. Much of this work has happened in ways that have helped our profession more effectively teach and our students to more effectively learn. However, we still have much work to do if we are to claim that we have a well-developed set of tools that can be applied across disciplines.
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