I recently read the book Make it Stick by Peter C. Brown which is about strategies that actually work for learning, these are applicable not only for students but for everybody that want’s to learn anything new. These are for the most part direct quotes from the book!
1.Practice Retrieving New Learning from Memory:
“Retrieval practice” means self-quizzing. Retrieving knowledge and skill from memory should become your primary study strategy in place of rereading. How to use retrieval practice as a study strategy: When you read a text or study lecture notes, pause periodically to ask yourself questions like these, without looking in the text: What are the key ideas? What terms or ideas are new to me? How would I define them? How do the ideas relate to what I already know?
Generating questions for yourself and writing down the answers is also a good way to study. Set aside a little time every week throughout the semester to quiz yourself on the material in a course, both the current week’s work and material covered in prior weeks. When you quiz yourself, check your answers to make sure that your judgments of what you know and don’t know are accurate. Use quizzing to identify areas of weak mastery, and focus your studying to make them strong.
The harder it is for you to recall new learning from memory, the greater the benefit of doing so. But what you don’t sense when you’re struggling to retrieve new learning is the fact that every time you work hard to recall a memory, you actually strengthen it.
2.Space Out Your Retrieval Practice
Spaced practice means studying information more than once but leaving considerable time between practice sessions. How to use spaced practice as a study strategy: Establish a schedule of self-quizzing that allows time to elapse between study sessions. How much time? It depends on the material. If you are learning a set of names and faces, you will need to review them within a few minutes of your first encounter, because these associations are forgotten quickly. New material in a text may need to be revisited within a day.
3.Interleave the Study of Different Problem Types
What does this mean? If you’re trying to learn mathematical formulas, study more than one type at a time, so that you are alternating between different problems that call for different solutions.
Mix in the practice of other subjects, other skills, constantly challenging your ability to recognize the problem type and select the right solution.
Elaboration is the process of finding additional layers of meaning in new material. For instance: Examples include relating the material to what you already know, explaining it to somebody else in your own words, or explaining how it relates to your life outside of class. A powerful form of elaboration is to discover a metaphor or visual image for the new material. For example, to better grasp the principles of angular momentum in physics, visualize how a figure skater’s rotation speeds up as her arms are drawn into her body.
Generation is an attempt to answer a question or solve a problem before being shown the answer or the solution. For instance: On a small level, the act of filling in a missing word in a text (that is, generating the word yourself rather than having it supplied by the writer) results in better learning and memory of the text than simply reading a complete text.
Many people perceive their learning is most effective when it is experiential—that is, learning by doing rather than by reading a text or hearing a lecture.
is a combination of retrieval practice and elaboration that adds layers to learning and strengthens skills. What is it? Reflection is the act of taking a few minutes to review what has been learned in a recent class or experience and asking yourself questions. What went well? What could have gone better? What other knowledge or experiences does it remind you of?
is the act of aligning your judgments of what you know and don’t know with objective feedback so as to avoid being carried off by the illusions.
Calibration is simply the act of using an objective instrument to clear away illusions and adjust your judgment to better reflect reality. The aim is to be sure that your sense of what you know and can do is accurate.
I highly recommend reading this book if you are serious about learning something new from books specifically. You can buy it here.