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Learning Strategies Advice to Give Students

Updated: Oct 28, 2023

Expanding what you are learning, and linking it to personal things in your life will make your learning more robust and interesting.

It's probably obvious that your memory will be quicker and stronger as you retrieve it from a personal experience. For sure, you are feeding on your own internal motivations and experience to make your learning more meaningful and more memorable.

But let's go back to expanding on information and see how this works. We know that education and learning is about increasing your skill as a thinker and user of what you have learned .

So, it's not about receiving and logging information. We need more advanced learning strategies than that.

But let’s be clear, you do need to think on things in a way that is not just fanciful. You can start by confirming or consolidating your knowledge on your topic by asking definitional questions to check your understanding. You do need to know your key concepts before you progress into exploring them further.

What we have learned is that you will gain most benefit from something if your baseline concepts are correct and then you expand on that with suitable questions. Now that sounds very obvious, doesn't it?

You may reasonably want to know what those questions are, and of course the key guide to that is what do you want or need to learn?

As Megan Smith and Yana Weinstein explain in their blog article1 ‘If you want to grow understanding and creativity, you ask yourself questions about what you are learning.

The key questions to ask are why and how questions because those questions require you to think well beyond surface presentation of information and explore reasons for things and the mechanisms that may explain them.

Asking yourself a number of why and how questions will encourage you to produce explanations for the ideas you are learning, and to integrate the new material you are learning with the things you already know or have experienced.’

So, in short, make a list of what it is that you’re required to learn and build upon details of those things using question words.

Connect what you are learning to things that interest you and then use those connections to help you learn and recall essential content. To expand upon your subject matter as you learn: 1. Look up the definitions of key words so that they’re clear in your mind. 2. Make a list of the things you have to learn. 3. Add to the information by using question words and formulating questions. 4. Answer those questions, tying them to things which naturally interest you. When we relate what we learn to our lives, check the facts we really need to know, and expand on that with how and why questions, we learn more, we think more creatively, and we remember more . 1

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