Learning to learn
(or... being knowledgeable rather than simply being familiar)

Learning is a skill that must be developed over time, with many experiences that increase your abilities. Learning is a process of several steps. In order to learn fully, learning takes time, dedication and interest. Learning to become knowledgeable, over the long term, about a topic requires active engagement and changes in behavior.

Many students read and re-read text material and, as a result, become familiar with the material. But, this is NOT the same as being knowledgeable. Cognitive scientists (learning specialists) tell us that we can be fooled into believing that we actually understand something when we are only familiar with the words. Please see this article on Why Students Think They Understand—When They Don’t.

ONLY by expressing what you know can you be sure that your knowledge is correct and complete. If you can explain what you know to others, then you are knowledgeable! If not, then you are only familiar and may be fooled into believing that you understood the information. Try the following steps, and active study techniques, to maximize your understanding.

Step 1. input the new information
read objective lists, notes or other documents that determine what is important in the course;
take and read (outloud) lecture notes;
read (outloud) the text pages associated with the objectives and lecture notes;
make flash cards;
make drawings or diagrams;
fill out worksheets or workbooks.

Step 2. reinforce the new information
compare your flash cards or notes, with another student or instructor, for accuracy and completion;
rewrite the lecture notes (write until you do it from memory) and compare with another student;
teach another person by speaking out and drawing the information;
group flash cards of similar information (structure shape or location or function) and show to another person;

Step 3. relate the new information with old information
make concept maps;
write essays from objectives of several lecture note sections (combine chapter lecture notes);
make diagrams that include new and old information;
make practice assignments and anticipate questions.

click on this image for an audio message on learning how to learn

Learning is more than just reading-use more active study techniques if the old ones are not working.

Professor Thomas M. Lancraft
Human Anatomy and Physiology Courses
at St. Petersburg College
St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus

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