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

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.

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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

10

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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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.

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.

Using 10% of our brains
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 th...

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

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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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A growth mindset is a desirable thing to have...

...so many people declare they have it:

  • If they are open minded and flexible, they said they have it
  • If they are kind to people, they said they have it 

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The growth mindset

...is the belief that your abilities can be improved through effort. 

And this means you can get better and hard work pays off.

Tips for encouraging a growth mindset (in yourself and in others):
  • Don’t praise ability or intelligence: That promotes a fixed mindset. Compliment effort, process and choices.
  • Don’t ignore outcome, tie it to effort: You can be happy about success, but attribute it to effort.
  • Respond positively to failure: Failure isn’t bad, it’s a tool for improving.
  • Don’t just say “Try hard.” Set goals: Blind repetition doesn’t work. 
  • Practice a Growth mindset in all areas of life: There’s no area where they cannot improve with hard work.
  • Share your own Growth mindset efforts: Practice it yourself and share your results.
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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Set Learning Styles

There’s no research to support learning styles. 

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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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Eight glasses of water

We should indeed be drinking enough water every day for good overall health. What this amount is, differ from person to person.

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Catch a cold by being cold

You can't catch a cold from being cold.  A virus is responsible for contracting a cold. We become infected with viruses when we are in close quarters with other people infected with a virus.

Cracking your joints can lead to arthritis

Cracking joints do not cause arthritis. Research done found people who crack their joints are at the same risk of getting arthritis than those who don't.

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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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