Learn Better: 5 Things You Can Do Today

In his new book Learn Better, Ulrich Boser presents his findings on the new science of learning: a skill that requires practice just like any other skill. I’ve talked about this concept in other blog posts (and it’s certainly a key component of any course I teach)

He debunks some common learning myths and shares best practices in using learning as a skill to develop your expertise. Inspired by Boser’s book, here are 5 things you can do today to learn better:

Learn Better: 5 Things To Do Today  

  1. When reading text, take time to explain key concepts to yourself as you go. Summarizing and explaining concepts in your own words helps you to recall information better than if reading along.
  2. When preparing for a concrete goal (e.g. successfully completing a course or exam), quiz yourself on content. Regular, even if informal, assessments are a form of active learning that has a positive impact on recall.
  3. Space out your learning. Spaced repetition is more beneficial to knowledge and skill retention than cramming information into long study sessions.
  4. Get feedback. As you attempt to incorporate more active learning techniques into your routine, make sure to include a process for getting feedback from someone in the field.
  5. Focus. Eliminate distractions during learning experiences. This means blocking distracting sites, turning off your phone, and letting others in your environment know that you should not be disturbed for a period of time.

Even if you just apply one of these strategies to your learning experiences you’ll enjoy greater learning gains — it absolutely takes practice, however. If you find that visual reminders help you, try printing out a simple checklist (available below or just adding your chosen strategies to a post-it note or a whiteboard in your workspace.

The full list of strategies to incorporate into your learning experiences is coming in a future blog post.

Have you tried any of the strategies that are listed here? Do you have any additional strategies that have helped you make learning gains? Please share in the comments!