Suppose you start studying medicine next year. You will need to acquire a lot of
new knowledge. How will you do this? There is a fair chance that you will do this –
just like many other students – by reading texts several times, highlighting and
summarising them. That is a shame, because that is not the most effective way of
Research into learning strategies shows that many people study the “wrong” way.
For example, if you use these wrong strategies, new information is not properly
stored in the long-term memory. The use of these methods often makes it harder
for people to assess how far they are in their learning process and how well they
have mastered the subject matter. By learning the “wrong” way, you not only
waste valuable time, you also end up with lesser results than if you had learned
the “right” way.
The learning strategies we use the most are often the least effective. There are
students who highlight an entire notebook with markers and – although it looks
nice and colourful – it does not help them understand or remember the material
any better. Highlighting supposedly would make it even harder to make
connections in a text, and it distracts from the actual learning process. Re-reading
a text is not necessarily effective either. It is a superficial and passive form of
studying. You often get the feeling: “Hey, I know this,” but you do not actually
pick up a lot of new information and you also do not remember the information
any better. Unfortunately, it often gives you the feeling that you have mastered
the subject matter while this is not yet the case.
So what is the right strategy? In education, insufficient attention is often paid to
the use of effective learning strategies. However, you want to know how best to
prepare for an exam. So what are actually effective ways to study?
Assignment: Write a paper in your own words about learning strategies, using a
minimum of 2500 to a maximum of 3500 words*. What is known from literature
about learning strategies? What generally works and what does not? What learning
strategies have you been using so far? What do you think of your own learning
strategies after reading the literature? Imagine that you are going to try a new
learning strategy. Describe the strategy you would choose, explain why and
describe how you would approach this.
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