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10 Common Learning Myths That Might Be Holding You Back | InformED

Re-reading and highlighting

Both of these study strategies are relatively ineffective. Passively reading the same text over and over again won’t do much for recall unless it’s spaced out over time. 

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10 Common Learning Myths That Might Be Holding You Back | InformED

10 Common Learning Myths That Might Be Holding You Back | InformED

https://www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/features/10-common-learning-myths-might-holding-back/

opencolleges.edu.au

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Key Ideas

Re-reading and highlighting

Both of these study strategies are relatively ineffective. Passively reading the same text over and over again won’t do much for recall unless it’s spaced out over time. 

Different learning styles

Systematic studies of learning styles have consistently found no evidence or very weak evidence to support the idea that matching the material to a student’s learning style is more effective.

Right or left-brained

There is no conclusive evidence that people preferentially use the left or right hemisphere.

Certain functions are processed more by one region of the brain than others, and this is known as lateralization. But we all use our entire brain equally.

The 10,000-hour rule

There’s no magic number of hours that will turn you into an expert .

A Princeton study found that deliberate practice can only predict success in fields with stable structures where the rules never change, such as tennis, chess, or classical music. In less stable fields, mastery requires more than just practice.

Sticking with your first answer

One study found that 75 % of college students and 55 % of instructors believe that changing their initial answer would lower their score overall.

A review of 33 studies found that, on average, people who change their answers score higher on tests than those who don’t. 

Intelligence as a fixed trait

A growing body of research shows that our IQ can increase over time, and in fact, research on growth mindset by Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck shows that our beliefs about intelligence can actually affect our effort, and in turn, our performance.

Praising intelligence

Research on the growth mindset by Carol Dweck found that praise can actually be counterproductive and discourage people from taking risks.

Dweck’s research shows that praising effort and persistence is a much better way to motivate people.

10 % of our brain

The theory stating that we only use 10 % of our brain is an urban legend. It seems to have originated from the 1930s self-help book “How to win friends and influence people,” (Dale Carnegie) in which a Harvard University professor was misquoted.

The learning pyramid

The theory says that people remember 10 % of what they read, 20 % of what they hear, 30 % of what they see, 50 % of what they see and hear, 70 % of what they say and write, and 90 % of what they do or teach others.

This is never actually been proven and the percentages given are pure fiction.

Shortcuts to better learning

Despite all the learning fads that have come and gone, from mindfulness to brain training games and exercises, learning is and will always be a process. It requires time and effort and is bound to feel difficult and uncomfortable at times.

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Styles of learning

The concept of learning styles--such as visual versus verbal or active versus reflective--is commonplace, but it turns out that there is little evidence to ...

Right-brained or left-brained

Research doesn’t strongly support this concept of the lateral brain--or that people have a dominant side of the brain that dictates how we learn.  

Even in simple actions, both hemispheres of the brain are engaged. 

"Exercises" that will make you smarter

"One minute playing Mozart will make your baby a genius, the next crosswords will fend off your mental decline"... The research behind these claims is weak. 

Learning methods are not so much based upon how the brain is structured, but based upon our experiences. Our experiences do affect brain development. The wiring of the brain depends upon the experiences we have.

The critical window of childhood
The critical window of childhood

There is an assumption that in the first years of life the vast majority of the brain’s development occurs, and after this period, the trajectory of human development is more or less fixed.&...

The idle-brain theory

Irrespective of what a person is doing, the entire brain is generally active and, depending on the task, some areas are more active than others. 

People can always learn new ideas and new skills, not by tapping into some unused part of the brain, but by forming new or stronger connections between nerve cells.

The left/right brain hypothesis

The theory that most people are either dominantly analytical (and left-brained) or creative (and right-brained) is false.

The two hemispheres of the brain are linked and communicate extensively together; they do not work in isolation. 

Recent studies suggest that engaging all the senses in a variety of ways (for instance, audiovisual and tactile) can help employees retain new content.

Using 10% of our brains

The source of this figure isn't entirely clear.

People's capacity to develop any skill is a combination of practice and talent. A person can get quite good at almost any skill if they practic...

Left-brained or right-brained

People used to speak of being left or right-brain dominant (where the left brain is more logical and algorithmic, and the right brain more artistic and intuitive).

However, both hemispheres of your brain are involved in all of the complex work you do. The most effective thinkers are the ones who learn to rely on both their intuitive judgments as well as their reasoning.

Emotions and rational thinking

The theory goes that emotions reflect a more primitive form of thinking and that good thinking is only logical.

However, when faced with risky decisions, it is possible to talk yourself into almost anything. But, even a little anxiety in that situation can provide information too valuable to ignore.

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The right side of the brain
The right side of the brain

Creativity isn’t the preserve of one side of the brain, and it isn’t a talent confined to people with a special kind of brain. If you’re human and you’ve got a brain, you’re capabl...

The “Eureka!” moment

This myth encourages the belief that creativity is a passive process. It suggests you have to wait and hope that you’ll make a breakthrough.

That Eureka moment is actually the last step in a long, involved process and not the only step. For this to happen, your unconscious mind needs material to work with. You have to put in the hard work of studying and mastering your field and exposing yourself to different perspectives.

The lone, eccentric geniuses

In reality, creativity is a team sport.

The lone genius myth is a stereotype and it’s unhelpful because it suggests the route to innovation is to cut oneself off from colleagues and collaboration. You need a modest amount of intelligence to be creative, but extremely high IQ is neither sufficient nor necessary for being an innovator.

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Set Learning Styles

There’s no research to support learning styles. 

How to really learn: Match your content to the process - students should learn music by listening to music, while students should ...

Rereading Material

How to really learn: Instead of rereading, highlighting, or underlining important information, ask yourself:

  • ‘What is the author trying to say?’ 
  • 'How is this different than other things I’ve read?’ 
  • 'How does this relate to other material I know?’ 
Focusing On One Subject At A Time

When it comes to learning a difficult subject, people often believe you should practice one thing at a time.

How to really learn: Mixing it up, however, is a better approach. In mixed learning, you get a chance to see the core idea below it.

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Peak performance
Performing at the top doesn't mean consistent peak performance.

You should expect some variability in your performance. Your path is not going to be linear.

Mimicry and comparisons

Self-improvement doesn't come from mimicry and comparing ourselves with others.

Focus on getting better than you were yesterday and living up to your own potential and aspirations, not somebody else’s. 

Singular grand strategies

They don't work, because there is no one single way for anybody to improve.

Singular grand strategies seldom work because they don’t account for exigencies that emerge along the way. Adaptability is also important in the path to self-growth.

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Say it out loud

Learning and memory benefit from active involvement. When you add speaking to it, the content becomes more defined in long-term memory and more memorable.

Take notes by hand

Most of us can type very fast, but research shows writing your notes by hand will allow you to learn more.

Taking notes by hand enhances both comprehension and retention.

Chunk your study sessions

Studying over a period of time is more effective than waiting until the last minute.

Distributed practice works because each time you try to remember something, the memory becomes harder to forget.

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Just start, break the initial barrier

Every task has a certain Activation Energy (AE), where you initiate certain steps in order to start a task.

Reducing the Activation Energy of new habits you want to form will make it i...

Practice chunking

A memory chunk is a solid connection in your mind that relates various bits and pieces of information. 

Focus on the concept you want to form a chunk of. Write down the basic ideas of what the concept is all about. Build up from these fundamentals to finally create a chunk.

Learn, Practice, Recall — Repeat
Just forming chunks is not sufficient. You have to maintain them. The more you look after the chunks, the longer they last.

While reviewing material, recall it instead of just reading it passively. Try and recall in a different setting than where you studied it.

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Learning theories

Learning theories develop hypotheses that describe how learning takes place.

The major theories of learning are the following: 

  • behaviorist theories 
  • co...
Behaviorism theories

The behaviorist perspectives of learning originated in the early 1900s. The main idea of behaviorism is that learning consists of a change in behavior because of obtaining, strengthening and applying associations between input from the world, and observations of the individual.

  • Learning is reinforced by exercise and repetition, followed by a positive reward.
  • Learning takes place when the right parts of more complex behavior are rewarded.
Cognitive psychology

Cognitive psychology started in the late 1950s and contributed to the move away from behaviorism.

  • Instead of viewing people as collections of responses to external stimuli, people are viewed as information processors.
  • Cognitive psychology was influenced by the computer that processes information, that became analogous to the human mind.
  • Cognitive psychology understands learning as absorbing knowledge, acting on it, and storing it in memory.
  • The main teaching methods are lecturing and reading textbooks, where the learner receives knowledge passively.

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"One skill you want to master in this day and age we live in, if you want to have an extraordinary life, is the ab..."

Tony Robbins
Don't reinvent the wheel

Mimic and get help from someone who’s already learned it to get tips and save time.

In order to achieve mastery faster, our first step should be to consult the top players in the field and model the path they have already carved out for us.

Deconstruct the skill

...into its basic, fundamental components, to find the most important things to practice first. This shows that very few things actually make a difference in any aspect of our lives, including learning.

Use the Pareto Principle: which describes a goal of generating 80 percent of results by putting in 20 percent of the effort.

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