Saturday, March 10, 2018

Deep learning strategies

One part of mentoring for self-regulated learning (SRL) is to suggest appropriate studying strategies for students and help them to engage in personally meaningful deeper learning

To improve learner agency we want to improve metacognition, and help students to be aware of their learning processes.  The following list has 6 study strategies for deeper learning that can be applied in different learning situations. The three first strategies are about ways to encode information to be learned. 

1.    Make connections – information alone has a very short memory life, it needs to be connected to your previous knowledge
o   Build concept hierarchies, think of umbrella terms, and categorize information in a way that is meaningful to you – then check your study materials to make sure you interpreted them correctly.
o   Chunk details together. Visual cues, either graphic organizers, or something as simple as your own fingers, may help to organize the content and find a common denominator for them (this is why mnemonic devices are used)
o   Color-coding the content can be extremely helpful, because the color can give an immediate cue about the higher order concept.
o   Unlike computer memory, humans need to revisit things they know, simply because human knowledge is very contextual.

2.     Take contextual notes – use images, mindmaps, or doodling, and also write down your thoughts or ideas the reading evoked. This helps you to transfer your learning into other settings.
o   Learning is always contextual and situational, so your study strategies should reflect this fact.What is the context of the content, and can you relate it to other contexts?  In what situation is the new information useful?
o   While studying, ask yourself  "How far..." and “What if…”  questions about the topic to test the limits of the concept, or usefulness of the information.
o   Ask why and how questions about the material you are learning to expand your understanding and situate new information to what you know already.  

3.     Attach new information to real life experiences – extend the content to apply to work/life situations you have had. How does the reading relate to your work or life? In what situation could you use what you learned?
o   Create scenarios and examples of using the information to be learned in real life, based on the experiences you have already had (or a virtual experience).
o   Make a short note of this scenario into your notes or mindmap, often just few words is enough, some people prefer to connect things to dates or places. Use what works for you!

o   Explain your new knowledge to another person. This makes you to use the vocabulary associated to it. Multilingual people know this effect: use it or lose it.  Even a language well learned becomes hard to use if we have no opportunities to speak it, because there is an advanced level of competency required for expressive fluency.

Next strategy is for timining and sequencing your study sessions in ways that help your memory to save information to be learned. This is very simple strategy: more exposure equals better retention. To help yourself to learn, just visit the material several times!

4.      Span studying over time – studying in smaller chunks during the week is more effective than 7 hours on weekend. There is more than 100 years of research showing this (Cepeda et al,2006) so we should believe it is the best pratice.
o   To be nicer to yourself, plan to work on yours studies even a little every day, or for even better effect, several times a day! Save the most important or hardest information to be learned on your cell, so that you can easily reread it several times a day.
o   One part why having several study sessions over the week or weekend works so well, is the need to recall information in the beginning of a study session. However, for example to write a paper the longer time period spent with studies will work better, but then again that is not about studying but organizing and communicating what you have already learned. Keep this distinction clear!
o   Rehearsing what we know is important. This doesn’t mean that you must take same quizzes over and over to keep your knowledge, but it DOES mean that you need to connect it into other things in your life and be able to talk or write about it.

Next two strategies are about practices to help your memory to save information to be learned.  

5.       Practice recalling things – after chunking details together, then turn away and try to remember the items. When you have a chunk memorized, and items that belong to it, you can use the time in queue, commute or other delay to recall learned items (e.g. countries, states, capitals, periodic table, historical events, learning theories/theorists, etc).
o   This is sometimes called the quizzing effect but the idea is the same: instead of just re-reading things, try to recall or answer questions about your study material 
o   Creating mnemonic devices of your own can be very effective, because it combines the recalling practice with something that may be personally meaningful. 
o   Karpicke & Blunt(2011) suggested that Retrieval Practice Produces More Learning than Elaborative Studying with Concept Mapping.  Why not combine both, and learn even better?
o   Learning strategies don’t have to be polarized! Concept-mapping or mind mapping can effectively support recalling chunks or details. Color-coding concepts can help recalling the categories. Explaining concepts to a friend can help recalling.

6.       Add variety – use different strategies and exercises to learn the content
o   Learning becomes easier when you have several different interactions with the material, instead just the same one,  repeatedly   
o   Adding variety to your studying can also be done with technique called interleaving, which means studying content out of order.  This makes studying harder, but supports deeper learning.   
o   So, reshuffling your content so that is out of order might be helpful. Interleaving in language pronunciations may not be effective, suggests this article. However, my own thought is that it may depend on one’s cognitive style (top-down vs. bottom-up, preference for concept hierarchies or details), and other ways we organize information to be learned.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

IDEAL learning

Creating the IDEAL circumstances for learning makes instruction effective and enjoyable!

Check out and Nina's Notes for more information!