A lot of us just read any information from the book and solve questions accordingly. This makes us comfortable with a certain information for that point of time. But as we learn new things, older things might just get out of our brains.
When we learn a new concept from a book, a certain part of our brain is activated. Whenever you try to remember that concept later, neurons in your brain fire and try to retrieve the information stored. But a single set of cells fire that signal and there is no interconnection of that information from other parts of the brain which makes you sometimes doubtful about what you actually learnt!
Learning same information in a variety of ways, as suggested in the research (Willis, J. 2008) improves the chances of remembering that information. Imagine on a highway, a fixed number of cars have to reach from point A to B. If there is only one way, there will be traffic and reaching the destination will be difficult and time-consuming. Now, if we open a few more paths between A and B, cars will take different routes to reach the same point but in a lesser time and with more ease. Same is the case with information that our brain processes.
Learning a concept in a single way fires just one set of neurons. We should approach our studies through multiple channels, like reading, listening, visual and kinesthetic. Each type of learning fires a different set of neurons in the brain but they all try to retrieve the same information, i.e. they fire at the same time but at different locations which strengthen the bond between these cells. These multiple neurons firing in the brain at the same type creates a strong interconnection between them, providing the students with more opportunities to retrieve the information from multiple storage areas rather than a single cue.
So, starting from today, take multiple references of a particular concept. To learn a specific topic, do the following:
- Read the class notes.
- Read the textbook.
- Listen to the lecture your teacher gives.
- Watch a video related to the concept.
- Create a mind map of how you are going to approach the problem related to that concept.
- Practice variety of problems from the same concept.
- Teach someone what you have learnt. Try to help your classmates who are not able to understand the concept or discuss with others who already have a hold on the concept.
How can you apply this?
Take an example of chapter current electricity. You are studying combination of resistors and you have just learnt the concept in your school from your teacher. You should come home and go through your textbook once. Watch videos on this combination of resistors even if you think you have understood it well. After you have exploited these resources, you now have enough idea to create a map on how to engrave this concept in your mind. You can go over some problems given in your class by your teacher and in your textbook. Once you are done with that, you can go for more advanced problems as well. When you are really comfortable with the concept, you can teach this concept to your peer group. This not only helps your friends but also helps you in the long run. After all these stages of learning, combination of resistors will remain in your mind forever!
You don’t need to follow this in every sitting. But do try to incorporate every possible source for learning the concept. It actually enables your brain to learn the concept, rather than just memorizing it.