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Learn Better

Mastering the Skills for Success in Life, Business, and School, or, How to Become an Expert in Just About Anything

By Ulrich Boser
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Learn Better: Mastering the Skills for Success in Life, Business, and School, or, How to Become an Expert in Just About Anything  by Ulrich Boser

Learn Better (2017) upends traditional approaches to learning skills and obtaining knowledge. Learning was once thought to depend entirely on the innate ability and intelligence of the learner. Rote learning was the order of the day. We now know there are much more effective ways to learn. In fact, there are six simple steps to better learning.

Key idea 1 of 8

Learning is easy. You just need the right tools and strategies.

For years it was assumed that learning ability was dependent on innate intelligence. But now experts have begun to show that this isn’t the case. With just a few strategies and tools, you can drastically improve your learning.

The biggest finding is that, by employing learning strategies, you can dramatically improve your outcomes.

In the 1980s, Anastasia Kitsantas conducted an experiment at an all-girls school. She split the girls into three teams and taught them to play darts. The members of "Team Performance” were told that they would win by hitting the bull’s eye; those of "Team Learning Method” were taught throwing strategies, such as keeping their arms close to their bodies; and the girls in "Team Conventional Wisdom” were simply told to do their best. In the end, not only did "Team Learning Method” outperform the others; its members also had the most fun!

There’s another useful learning tool called self-quizzing. This learning strategy involves repeatedly recalling and testing yourself on what you’ve been taught. It’s a technique designed to help new ideas stick in your long-term memory.

In fact, research has shown that self-quizzing is 50 percent more effective than some other learning strategies.

A 2006 Washington University study demonstrated just this. Researchers Jeffrey Karpicke and Henry Roediger gave a text to two groups of participants. The first group read it four times. The second group only read it once, but they practiced recalling it three times over.

When Karpicke and Roediger tested them all a few days later, they found that the passage had stuck significantly more in the minds of the group members who’d performed self-quizzing.

A final method for improving learning is using earplugs to block out external noise.

The author used this technique as an 11-year-old. He’d been having trouble focusing on his math problems, and found that judicious use of earplugs really helped him concentrate.

So those are some great practical tips to get you going. Now let’s dive in a little deeper with the six steps to better learning.

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