5 Effective and Evidence-Based Learning Techniques to Help You Study

There are many different ways a person can learn something. Many people assume that long hours of studying is the best and only path to getting good grades in class or being the best student. Yet, research shows that successful students actually spend less time studying than their peers do—they just study more effectively. 

The tendency to push yourself before a test by pulling an all-nighter is not working. You may feel like you are super productive, but in fact, you are not! By pushing your limits, you increase the risk of getting sick and draining yourself, mentally and physically.

Students will utilize a specific learning technique to help them study whether it is out of habit, deliberate choice, or affected by their peers. Each person will use a different learning technique that suits them best, which is based on whether they are visual, auditory, kinesthetic, or read-and-write learners. 

However, not all learning techniques are created equal. Some may be more efficient than others, depending on the personality of the person. There are many popular yet inefficient learning techniques that many students still make use of. Several of them are rereading, highlighting, and summarising. Let’s break down each of these and find out why they are considered inefficient.

Rereading is reviewing information multiple times. It often goes hand in hand with highlighting. When students read the same text repeatedly, they become familiar with the ideas and immediately think that they understand the whole context. Yet, they’ll forget the material in a week or so because the familiarity with the text itself is being confused with an understanding of the concepts the text was describing

Highlighting is emphasizing critical points in the text. Students underline important information in what they read with markers to remember what is crucial in the text. The problem with highlighting is similar to rereading because students aren’t always aware of the most important information and might be ignoring more important details. 

Summarising is writing a summary of what we’ve just read. However, it only works for learners who are already skilled at summarising and will be much harder for many other leaders, especially children, which makes this strategy less feasible and reliable. 

With many debates surrounding which learning technique is the best, there are also research outlined a handful of actually useful learning techniques. These techniques will help you accomplish your goals in studying. Still, it will also help you avoid many kinds of distractions that students often face these days, especially in the era of social media. 

These learning techniques will help your brain restart and refocus, which leads to more significant achievements. Contrary to the other techniques we’ve mentioned before, these will take a shorter time but with higher intensity. And most importantly: without distractions.

5 Effective and Evidence-Based Learning Techniques

Spaced Repetition

This may be the most powerful technique for improving your brain’s ability to remember what you study. Spaced repetition is putting time intervals between study sessions.

The essence of this technique is to retain any information in our brain by refreshing it periodically. Spaced repetition is done by studying any information and setting up a schedule for when we should go through what we study before. You can use flashcards or computers to optimize the process. By repeating what you learn in a specific time interval, it will be easier for you to remember. 

Active Recall

Active recall is scientifically better than reading and highlighting. It is a technique that helps you remember better than any strategy. 

Active recall is the process of remembering any information. The simplest way to explain this technique is by reading the information, closing your eyes, and trying to recall what you’ve just read without looking it up in your notes or online. If you fail to remember, look it up, learn it, and try again. 

Active recall works effectively because it is aimed to learn and remember your material. To remember what you study, you need to stimulate your brain to recall something from your long-term memory. It is different, though, from review. 

Reviewing is identifying the context of the material and understanding it. However, to remember, you must recall the information over and over again until you get it right. The active recall will help store the information in your brain. 

The STIC Framework

The letters “STIC” in The STIC Framework stand for four principles: (S)pacing; (T)esting; (I)nterleaving; and (C)ategorising. Applying these four principles to your studying will make It more effective and efficient. 

Testing is when we try to force our brains to build connections between the materials that we’ve studied. When you test yourselves, the information will stick more firmly in your head. This will make your learning process easier. The next step is Spacing. Spacing is the technique in which you study the same thing repeatedly until you’ve memorised what you’ve studied without having a hard time recalling it.

Categorising is building a system or structure to help you break down the materials rather than trying to learn the information as one large unit. This will help you visualise the big picture of the materials you’re trying to learn which leads to having a holistic understanding in the end. Meanwhile, Interleaving is the process where you mix up subjects and topics to help you strengthen your memory of the materials over a longer period of time. 

The Feynman Technique

Richard Feynman is known as the Great Explainer. The inventor of the Feynman Technique is considered to be one of the most outstanding physicists of all time. He was a brilliant, articulate, and passionate thinker. 

The Feynman Technique is a method for learning or reviewing a concept quickly by explaining it in plain, simple language. It helps you pinpoint the problem areas in the concept you are trying to learn. It is a simple technique but will help you study much more efficiently. Alas, you’ll save more time.

So, how to use the Feynman Technique?

  1. Grab a sheet of paper and write the name of the concept you’re trying to learn. 
  2. Explain the concept in your own words using plain, simple language as if you were teaching it to someone else. Don’t try to limit your explanation. Challenge yourself by mentioning one or two examples to help you understand more.
  3. Review your statement and identify the areas where you get the information wrong or where you feel your explanation is blurry. Once you’ve pinpointed them, look up the source material and learn again.
  4. If there are any areas in your report where you still use complex language, challenge yourself by rewriting those in simpler terms. This will make you understand the concept more easily. 

Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique is a popular time-management method invented by Francesco Cirillo. It has been used as a reference for productivity hacks by many. The process of the Pomodoro Technique is quite simple. You will be able to study or complete projects faster with less mental fatigue or make you burnt out. 

How to apply the Pomodoro Technique?

  1. Choose a material you’ve been trying to learn or a project you’ve meant to complete. 
  2. Minimize distractions. Try to focus on what you’re trying to accomplish. Stay away from your phone, shut all social media, close the door of your room. 
  3. Set the Podomoro (a timer) to 25 minutes. Work or study for 25 minutes without a break.
  4. The first session is complete. Now, you are allowed to take a short break. 
  5. Start the timer again for another session. 
  6. After four sessions, you are allowed to take a longer break.
  7. Repeat until you have accomplished your goals.

So, which of these learning techniques have you tried? Which one do you think suits you best? When studying, try not to get distracted and remember not to overdo it. By doing these learning techniques, you will be able to achieve your goals in more efficient and effective ways.

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