At Mayfair Consultants we apply current research in Neuroscience & Psychology to developing and refining learning strategies. We can offer mentoring and coaching, as well as University admission and interview advice, supporting you in your educational endeavours.
What are Learning Strategies?
Learning strategy is a way of organising and using skills to learn content or accomplish other tasks more effectively. Learning strategies are useful at school and in non-academic settings.
Improving educational outcomes requires effort in many areas, but can be, at least partially, achieved through teaching students how to better regulate their learning using effective learning techniques. There are many techniques, some developed by cognitive and educational psychologists, but they are not equally effective.
There are also different learning styles and preferences. Pinpointing how the child learns and teaching them to utilize their strengths, can significantly improve their ability to engage in lessons and learn independently. As described on the Rasmussen University page here, the most common types of learners are:
– Visual learners, with a preference for pictures, diagrams, and written directions, learn the best with the use of whiteboards.
– Auditory learners, with a preference for listening to the lessons or reading out loud to themselves. They learn the best by answering questions and group discussions.
– Kinesthetic learners, with a preference for experiencing what they are taught. They learn best through acting out scenes and when movement is incorporated into lessons.
– Reading/writing learners that prefer to learn through written words. They learn best through doing research, reading books and writing essays.
Students across the world highlight in yellow, write notes and use flashcards, but not many are taught how to choose the most effective revision techniques. The amount of information retained from different learning techniques varies greatly. Using a research-based approach and being aware of recent discoveries in neuroscience, is crucial for deciding how to best learn.
What are the most effective revision strategies?
As described by the UC San Diego Department of Psychology article here, the most effective learning techniques are practice testing and spaced testing. As explained on the website, “spaced practice involves when you should “study” and retrieval practice involves how you should “study”. When you use both they make a powerful combination.
Practice testing is based on attempting to recall information from memory, instead of restudying it. Spaced practise refers to when you should be studying. Spaced practice is based on multiple learning sessions, distributed at different points of time (for instance, revisiting a textbook chapter every couple of days). This is a much more effective alternative to cramming (naturally!).
If you intend to use spaced practice for your exams, start early. Using your course syllabus, you can create a calendar for exam preparation. Then, spend time preparing for the exam at regular intervals, for example, 1-2 hours every 4 days. For more tips see the UC San Diego Department of Psychology website linked above.
To put the techniques described above to use, you can download free software called Anki. Anki is a flashcards programme, that can be installed on Windows and Mac computers. Based on spaced practice concept, Anki allows you to review the flashcards you learned and go back to them periodically, with an increasing amount of time between each revision. Anki is open source and enables an array of features such as sharing decks of flashcards with your course mates, using them across different devices, adding equations written in LATEX etc.
Other learning techniques include:
– Interleaved practice – based on mixing topics to facilitate learning
– Self-explanation – based on students explaining to themselves a topic in their learning material. Self-explanation aims to improve students’ understanding of the content and potential areas of improvement.
– Speed reading – a technique aiming to improve one’s ability to read quickly through methods such as skimming, scanning and meta guiding.
– Mind mapping – a technique used to organise ideas and concepts and see the connections between them. A diagram is created to visually present information.
Additionally, one can aim to build a stronger memory. The advice in the Harvard Business Review article here is to figure out your learning style first (as already discussed above). You should also be selective in which task you delegate, as tasks such as inputting information to a database can make you help to remember important details of the business you run. Finally, prioritise information by how new it is, not its importance. As the author suggests, “studies indicate that committing something to memory as soon as you learn the information could be more beneficial than trying to add it to your memory bank later on”.
What are the most effective group learning strategies?
Some of the most effective group learning strategies include active learning methods, based on engaging students in learning. Techniques used are thinking, investigating, and creating in the classroom. Timely feedback is critical to this process. As explained by the Cambridge International Education Teaching and Learning Team, here, “Education research shows that incorporating active learning strategies into university courses significantly enhances student learning experiences (Freeman et al., 2014; Theobald et al., 2020).”
Cambridge International Education also proposes introducing Assessment for Learning (AFL), an approach to learning and teaching, where feedback is used to improve student performance. Elements of AFL are:
– questioning to check understanding, using open and closed questions
– feedback, that allows learners to understand where they are and where they want to be with their learning and define a path to get there
– peer assessment in which learners assess each other’s work and give each other feedback, to encourage responsibility for learning and develop social skills
– self-assessment, where learners evaluate their work and set their own learning goals
AFL improves learners’ outcomes, increases confidence and independence and changes the internal structure of the class to create a more engaging environment. The downside is an increased amount of time and other resources required to introduce it.
Other advice that you might find useful:
- One-to-one and many-to-one tutoring lessons enable you to develop a deep understanding and make it easy to develop your interests outside of the syllabus scope. You also gain access to personalized study materials and receive frequent feedback, that keeps you engaged and motivated.
At Mayfair Consultants we offer one-to-one lessons, either in person in our London office or remotely, to give you the flexibility you need. Our fully qualified tutors are highly skilled specialists, with many holding postgraduate degrees. They offer clear, concise explanations and stimulating approaches, helping to support the need of every student.
- Studying the same topic with another person is invaluable to test your understanding of the subject, allow you to practice verbal reasoning and develop positive interdependence.
- Finally, make sure you watch How to study for exams – Evidence-based revision tips! The video was created by Ali Abdaal, an entrepreneur, and Cambridge University Medicine Student, who summarizes several research papers on effective exam techniques.
At Mayfair Consultants we apply current research in Neuroscience & Psychology to developing and refining learning strategies. Our experts, many of which hold postgraduate degrees, will help you understand your learning style and develop effective strategies. We offer one-to-one mentoring and professional advice, to support you in succeeding at each step of your educational and professional journey. If you would like to arrange private lessons or have any questions about our tuition services please call us on Tel: +44 (0) 207 665 6606 or you can send us an email via our contact form.
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