Brett Allred

be a student, not a follower

How to Learn

In my recent studies I came across a a study that evaluated 10 techniques for improving learning. While the information in the post was interesting, I found more practical advice in the related topics The Cornell Note Taking System and The Feyman Technique.

I have been using Cornell Notes for about a month now. Last night I sat down to try The Feyman Technique and something clicked.

By combining the 10 techniques for improving learning, along with Cornell Notes and The Feyman technique, I finally completed my system for studying.

First, I print out the Cornell Notes NotePaper. I prefer the graph paper with 4 lines per inch, no holes, no date. I use a 3 hole punch and put a dozen pieces of the notepaper in a 3 ring binder. I write the my study topic on the top with the date and a generic subject.

While reading, if there is an important fact to remember, I apply the elaborative interrogation technique. I write a questions in the left hand column of my note paper asking why a certain fact is true. I provide my answer in the right column.

I use the Self Explanation Technique along with Concept Mapping to learn what is explained in the text. This involves mapping out relationships between concepts and explaining to myself the relationship between the concepts being learned.

I try to use personal judgement to incorporate other learning techniques while taking notes. While the other techniques are helpful, they aren’t core to the learning process like the techniques mentioned above.

When I have filled up a page of notes, I write a short summary in the bottom section provided by the Cornell Notes. While summarization isn’t highly effective, it is still a technique enhances learning and solidifies concepts.

At this point I generally end my study session. A few days later, I revisit my notes and apply the Feyman Technique. On the back of my note paper I pretend to teach the subject matter to someone else. This helps identify holes in my knowledge and gives me a good starting point for my next page of notes.

Life rewards the serious student. Adios!