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how we learn

I just read an interesting article in Wired magazine about how we learn.  The author interviewed Robert Bjork, the director of UCLA’s Learning and Forgetting Lab (yes, there is such a place).  Below are a few take-homes.

  1. Interleaving.  Instead of trying to master one topic or skill at a time, interleaving is the process of rotating through several related skills or topics. According to Bjork, memory works better when many different connections are made as opposed to just one.
  2. Get mobile.  In other words, vary the places where you study.  If you will need to know the information in more than one location, Bjork suggests studying in more than one location.
  3. Wait.  “The more difficult and involved the retrieval, the more beneficial it is.”  Bjork suggests spacing your studying times in a way that requires the mind to dig deeper and work harder at remembering what you studied the first time.  This helps cement the retrieval process.  For students, he suggests taking notes after class — forcing yourself to pay attention during class and remember what is important.

How would these apply in your situation?