Many PhD students read and study a lot. Sometimes you do wonder how you can improve your learning. In this article I would like to suggest some recommendations, which are based on an article of the Association for Psychological Science.
Why is it necessary to evaluate how you learn and memorize? Because apparently some learning techniques vary widely with respect to improving student learning.
What doesn’t work!
– rereading the underlined text
– rereading the text several times
Why are these techniques not effective? If you underline you aren’t relating parts of the text to one another. Every time you read the underlined text you think ‘yes, I know this already’. This effect is similar when you reread: you will read superficially. Rereading also has the side effect that it will give you the illusion that you know the text, but you lack understanding of the whole text.
What technique is effective?
- Constantly ask yourself questions, so you will actively search for the right answer and therefor use your brain in a creative way.
- Reorganize and restructure your notes again when revising them. This means you are focusing on your text anew so you will find different aspects.
You need to do something new with the text, that is the crux of the matter.
So what can you do? Relate your text with other literature you have read, make notes that tie in with earlier notes. Using a diagram or a mind map can also help to reproduce information. A handy tool how to make a mind map can be found here.
So don’t just read your text, but do something new with it when you are learning. That is the secret!
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