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Making Good Learning

March 4, 2022

The Best Lecture – The difference between sitting in a lecture and actively interacting with content is the difference between a momentary experience and sustained learning. An amazing lecture can be incredibly interesting. But how much of it can you explain the next day? I can name the best lecture I have heard. I was taking notes throughout, but I can never fully explain and pass on what I know from that lecture even when I try. Was that good learning?

The inherent passivity of a student during even the strongest lecture, is the reason that this style of learning will never come close to the rewards of more active (and actively challenging) teaching styles.

Active Tutor Teaching

In learning, as with many aspects of life, you get out what you put in. It is the job of a tutor to make sure you get a return on the investment of your time and effort. Forcing students to recall, generate and use what they have learnt enables real learning happens when

For example, when you are learning a new language, you can have conversations which force you to translate what the other person says. You can recall what you know of the language in order to respond. It is one of the best ways to practice and work towards becoming fluent. This is why immersion is one of the best ways to learn another language. Immersion requires some study, but while you are immersed, you may begin to get a sense for the sentence structure and some definitions without being explicitly told. They force you to retrieve that information from memory.

When they force you to build off of what you already know, pull what you have learned from your memory and generate some of that information yourself. This way you are hardwiring what you have learned. This method may be harder than passive learning and potentially more embarrassing when you stumble. However, now you do not just know the information, you also understand it. You own it.

The Great Student

When someone is a “natural” at a particular subject, it is when that person is able to generate more of what they are learning of the subject than the average person. What defines a great student is constantly striving to recall what they have learned whilst generating ideas and reach logical conclusions based on what they already know.

The Logic Behind the Learning

Research has also shown that retrieval practice and the “generative effect” as methods of encoding information tend to be more effective and associated with “a broad neural network.” By learning something and then pulling that knowledge from memory in order to use it, you will find that what you have learned is more firmly embedded. Like exercising a muscle, when you have the opportunity to use everything from language skills in conversations, to math skills in problem sets, to analytical skills in reading constitutes a process of learning that more deeply inscribes what you learn into your very neural network.

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