Learning is a never-ending process designated not only for those who decide to pursue a degree, but for everyone. Each day, you are exposed to learning about new jobs, hobbies, skills, relationships and ways of seeing life that will only make you grow in your personal and professional environment.
Learning is a constant process, but that doesn’t mean it’s an easy one. In other words, learning not only requires motivation, but, depending on what you want to learn, it also requires you to put a certain amount of effort.
Based on the premise that individuals sometimes tend to develop bad learning habits, Nate Kornell, an associate professor of cognitive psychology at Williams College who studied learning strategies, outlined three suggestions that will only allow you to take full advantage of the learning process that you wish to pursue.
The first tip Kornell presents is to embrace discomfort. There’s a reason we believe that life is hard, and that is because the things that we really want in life don’t come easy. You need to get out of your comfort zone to explore the different ways in which you can reach a certain goal. The most important takeaway from this tip is that you need to learn how to challenge yourself. Always take the route that will require you the greatest amount of effort because that’s the one that will provide you with the most insights.
The second tip is to organize yourself and to plan a schedule to learn about something little by little. Remember when you crammed all the information before an exam? Well, although that might have worked for the exam and you probably got a good grade on your test, I bet that a few weeks after that exam, you didn’t remember much of what you studied.
For this reason, if you really want to learn something, the best way to do it is by spacing out the learning objective into consecutive events. According to Kornell, this strategy will allow you to forget and re-learn information multiple times, which at the end, will help you retain information for a longer period. A good example is getting ready to give a presentation. The general goal of a presentation is to show that you are an expert on certain topic. To convince your audience about this, you need to prepare yourself. You need to practice in advance to become comfortable with the material you’re presenting.
The third and final tip Kornell suggests is to make connections. Whenever you’re learning something, try to find how that something relates to you. Associate learning objectives to experiences or situations in which you or your friends have gone through to internalize the concept and put it into practice whenever you might find it useful.
In brief, it could be said that although effective learning might seem as an extenuating process, the truth is that the time we spent effectively learning something will never be seen as wasted. My advice to you is to find something you’re curious about, to follow Kornell’s tips to effectively learn about it and to teach it to somebody else whenever you become an expert.
Michelle Bizet is a senior in public relations at the University of Florida. She loves working in the communications field and she is very passionate about the labor nonprofit organizations do. When she is not managing social media or studying for school, she can be found running The Swamp or cooking delicious and nutritious meals.