Tips to Enhance Learning

enhasnce learning

5 Ways to Enhance Learning

We all know that we should use smart study strategies for learning. But what is the science behind effective study strategies?
The tips below come from scientific studies that examine the difference between memorizing for short term and learning for the long haul.
1. Quiz Yourself Daily
Studies have shown that the best way to remember the information you’ve read or studied is to test yourself. Why?
It seems that the mere act of pulling information out of your brain and tucking it away again works like a sort of “body-building technique” for memories. Through a process called retrieval practice, it seems that information becomes sturdier and more embedded as we exercise it.

2. Reduce Your Cell Phone Use
It should come as no surprise that spending too much time on the cell phone can affect your grades. But the relationship between phones and grades is not simple; it’s not just a matter of time spent wisely (or not).Studies show that there is a relationship between cell phone use, anxiety, and student performance.
Increased time on the phone seems to be linked to increased feelings of anxiety, and that leads to lower student performance.Another relationship has been noticed between increased time on cell phones and a decrease in physical activity. Students who spend more time on phones, in other words, tend to be less active – which also causes a buildup of stress and anxiety.In fact, science also suggests that students who take part in aerobic exercise benefit from better long term memory.
It’s just a good policy to limit time on cell phones and increase physical activity. By reducing the anxiety in your life and getting in better physical shape, you’ll free up your brain to learn and retain!
3. Stop Trying to Memorize
Mnemonic devices are handy when you need to memorize a list of items that you intend to recall in the next day or two. Memorization is a skill that comes in handy for short term memory. But short term memory is only good if you’re cramming for a test and you don’t care about learning. Long term memory is the goal for truly learning from the material that you cover in class.
A recent study shows that memorization impairs your ability to recall details – and that can be a problem if you’re taking a test with essay or multiple choice questions!To commit information to your long term memory, you will need to venture beyond memorizing facts. You must strive to gain a meaningful understanding of concepts beyond the words and names on your list of terms. This leads to true learning – as opposed to short-term memorization. Long term memory comes from getting active with material and studying the same information several times over a few weeks.
4. Use Music and Actions
The more active you become when it comes to studying, the more you will be able to commit the information to memory. If you’re studying foreign language (or any other subject that requires you to learn new vocabulary) it seems that singing is helpful.
Singing new vocabulary and definitions taps in to your auditory learning skills and helps you recall more readily, according to one study. It’s certainly worth a try!
Another study shows that you can benefit by taking your class notes by hand instead of using a keyboard to type your notes. The act of writing words out by hand enhances the comprehension of concepts.
In one study, students who took notes on a computer could recall facts as well as those who used hand-written notes, but they could not grasp concepts nearly as well as the pen-and-paper students.
5. Use a Sleep Strategy
Common sense tells us that students need to get enough sleep to perform well in school. But there are some surprising findings when it comes to how and when we sleep, as it pertains to our ability to learn. It’s not about the amount of sleep you get, necessarily.
The timing of your sleep patterns also matters.Consider the following findings about sleep and study:A regular bed time is important, but students with later bedtimes have lower grades than students with earlier bedtimes.When you sleep right before study time, the information seems to sink in as you sleep and soak into your long term memory.
Sleep actually reinforces learning.The information will transform from short term memory to long term learning if you go straight to bed after reading. However, if you start reading Facebook posts or do any pleasure reading between study time and sleep time, you clog your brain with useless information and stop the potential for learning while sleeping.Study and then go straight to sleep: that’s they key!
Sources and Further Reading:

  1. Health Behavior News Service, part of the Center for Advancing Health. “Teens with late bedtimes have lower grades.” ScienceDaily, 10 November 2013.
  2. Kent State University. “Frequent cell phone use linked to anxiety, lower grade, reduced happiness in students.” ScienceDaily, 6 December 2013.
  3. KTH The Royal Institute of Technology. “Online time can hobble brain’s important work.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 September 2013.
  4. Mary A. Pyc and Katherine A. Rawson. Why Testing Improves Memory: Mediator Effectiveness Hypothesis. Science, 15 October 2010.
  5. Michigan State University. “Out of shape? Your memory may suffer.” ScienceDaily, 2 May 2014.
    Universitaet Tübingen. “Sleep reinforces learning: Children’s brains transform subconsciously learned material into active knowledge.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 February 2013.
  6. University of Texas at Austin. “Daily online testing boosts college performance, reduces achievement gaps.” ScienceDaily, 21 November 2013.
  7. Z. M. Reagh, M. A. Yassa. Repetition strengthens target recognition but impairs similar lure discrimination: evidence for trace competition. Learning & Memory, 2014; 21 (7): 342.



Ten (10) Things that Happen to Our Mind when Reading

mind and reading pix

Any book lover can let you know: diving into a great novel is an immersive experience that can make your brain wake up with imagery and feelings and even turn on your senses. It sounds sentimental, however there’s genuine, hard proof that supports these things happening to your brain when you read books. In reading, we can really physically change our brain structure, become more empathetic, and even trick our brains into thinking we’ve encountered what we’ve only read in novels.

  1. We make photos in our minds, even without being prompted:
    Reading books and different materials with clear imagery is not only fun, it additionally allows us to create worlds in our own minds. But did you realize that this happens regardless of the fact that you don’t mean it to? Researchers have observed that visual imagery is simply automatic. Participants were able to identify photos of objects faster if they’d just read a sentence that described the object visually, recommending that when we read a sentence, we naturally raise pictures of objects in our minds.
  2. Spoken word can put your brain to work:
    Critics are quick to dismiss audiobooks as a sub-par reading experience, but research has shown that the act of listening to a story can light up your brain. When we’re told a story, not only are language processing parts of our brain activated, experiential parts of our brain come alive, too. Hear about food? Your sensory cortex lights up, while motion activates the motor cortex. And while you may think that this is limited only to audiobooks or reading, experts insist that our brains are exposed to narratives all day long. In fact, researcher Jeremy Hsu shares, “Personal stories and gossip make up 65% of our conversations.” So go ahead, listen to your coworker’s long and drawn out story about their vacation, tune in to talk radio, or listen to an audio book in the car: it’s good exercise for your brain.
  3. Reading about experiences is almost the same as living it:
    Have your ever felt so connected to a story that it’s as if you experienced it in real life? There’s a good reason why: your brain actually believes that you have experienced it. When we read, the brain does not make a real distinction between reading about an experience and actually living it. Whether reading or experiencing it, the same neurological regions are stimulated. Novels are able to enter into our thoughts and feelings. While you can certainly hop into a VR game at the mall and have a great time, it seems that reading is the original virtual reality experience, at least for your brain.
  4. Different styles of reading create different patterns in the brain:
    Any kind of reading provides stimulation for your brain, but different types of reading give different experiences with varying benefits. Stanford University researchers have found that close literary reading in particular gives your brain a workout in multiple complex cognitive functions, while pleasure reading increases blood flow to different areas of the brain. They concluded that reading a novel closely for literary study and thinking about its value is an effective brain exercise, more effective than simple pleasure reading alone.
  5. Want to really give your brain a workout?
    Pick up a foreign language novel. Researchers at Lund University in Sweden tested students from the Swedish Armed Forces Interpreter Academy, where intensive language learning is the norm, and medicine and cognitive science students at Umea University. Both groups underwent brain scans just prior to and right after a three-month period of intensive study. Amazingly, the language students experienced brain growth in both the hippocampus and the cerebral cortex, with different levels of brain growth according to the amount of effort and learning students experienced in that period of time.
  6. Your brain adapts to reading e-books in seven days:
    If you’re used to reading paper books, picking up an e-reader can feel very awkward at first. But experts insist that your brain can adopt the new technology quickly, no matter your age or how long you’ve been reading on paper. In fact, the human brain adapts to new technology, including e-reading, within seven days.
  7. E-books lack in spatial navigability:
    Although your brain can adapt to e-books quickly, that doesn’t mean they offer the same benefits as a paperback. Specifically, they lack what’s called “spatial navigability,” physical cues like the heft of pages left to read that give us a sense of location. Evolution has shaped our minds to rely on location cues to find our way around, and without them, we can be left feeling a little lost. Some e-books offer little in the way of spatial landmarks, giving a sense of an infinite page. However, with page numbers, percentage read, and other physical cues, e-books can come close to the same physical experience as a paper book.
  8. Story structure encourages our brains to think in sequence, expanding our attention spans:
    Stories have a beginning, middle, and end, and that’s a good thing for your brain. With this structure, our brains are encouraged to think in sequence, linking cause and effect. The more you read, the more your brain is able to adapt to this line of thinking. Neuroscientists encourage parents to take this knowledge and use it for children, reading to kids as much as possible. In doing so, you’ll be instilling story structure in young minds while the brain has more plasticity, and the capacity to expand their attention span.
  9. Reading changes your brain structure (in a good way):
    Not everyone is a natural reader. Poor readers may not truly understand the joy of literature, but they can be trained to become better readers. And in this training, their brains actually change. In a six-month daily reading program from Carnegie Mellon, scientists discovered that the volume of white matter in the language area of the brain actually increased. Further, they showed that brain structure can be improved with this training, making it more important than ever to adopt a healthy love of reading.
  10. Deep reading makes us more empathetic:
    It feels great to lose yourself in a book, and doing so can even physically change your brain. As we let go of the emotional and mental chatter found in the real world, we enjoy deep reading that allows us to feel what the characters in a story feel. And this in turn makes us more empathetic to people in real life, becoming more aware and alert to the lives of others.