Studying and Learning

Posts filed under Studying and Learning

Know How to Study

Filed in Study Tip, Studying and Learning

When probed, many of my students report that they have never been guided on how to study. Here is a list of empirically based strategies for student learning.

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Sleep and School

Filed in Studying and Learning

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Penny Lewis has a lot for us to learn about sleep science. Sleep deprivation reduces memory function. Those late night last minute study sessions can be an inefficient way to retain information. Caffeine can disrupt your natural sleep cycle for up to 12 hours. The effect on sleep is the same 6 hours after consumption as it is 30 minutes later. Good sleep hygiene is characteristic good students.

Follow the Brian Science Podcast on iTunes or here.



Teaching and Learning

Filed in Studying and Learning


This is a very pivotal video series on teaching and learning in science classrooms. With standard approaches to teaching and assessment, students can fail to develop useful understanding of key concepts. Many students and their teachers don’t even realize misconceptions are held by even the brightest and highest achieving students.

Below: Harvard and MIT graduates are asked to light a bulb with wire and a battery. They say they can, but can’t. They are asked where plants get most of their mass. Atmosphere, soil, water? Some are certain plants get their mass from the soil or water… and it can’t be from carbon dioxide in the air.

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We all hold misconceptions. How can they be identified if we don’t express them?



Learning How to Learn

Filed in Studying and Learning

Learn how to learn from UCSD neuroscience professors. The course starts on Coursera October 3rd, TODAY!

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There is more than computation

Filed in Studying and Learning

This is not course content

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Understanding is necessary for three of the steps.
Source: Computer Based Math

Working Memory and Studying

Filed in Studying and Learning

This is Not Course Content

What does Doolittle say about learning? How does it differ and agree with the Britt’s suggestions? Why does asking such question as you watch this video help you to learn?

Students should try to learn complex material in bite size chunks. The cognitive load is lessened if some of the knowledge and understanding can be offloaded out of working memory. That takes time to allow for the needed practice and repeated application. That can translate into mastering one chapter before moving on and spreading out your studies over the week rather than doing it one big bolus.

Britt’s Tips on Studying

Filed in Studying and Learning

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In the linked podcast, psychologist Michael A. Britt discusses some of the evidence based tactics related to learning.

His important take-home messages are:
1)   Self-testing is more effective than rereading material.
2)   Self-test multiple times, even when you know it the first time.
3)   Explain the material to somebody else, or yourself if nobody is available. Written/pictorial explanations require your thought process to be completed and closed.
4)   Identify and articulate the distinctiveness of each new topic.
5)   Apply and connect the topic. In science we can’t always make connections with a topic to our personal life. We can still try to apply it to authentic scientific settings. Our coursework provides opportunities.
6)   Don’t confuse familiarity with a topic with understanding and ability to use related tools.

Things to keep in mind:

  1. When Michael talks about studying he is talking about rereading the notes or the text. In Biology 200 when we talk about studying we refer to all of the activities related to learning the material including, but not limited to, reading and things Michael suggests.
  2. The scope of the podcast is not comprehensive. There are many more activities we can add to the studying arsenal.
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