- May 2022
The student doesn’t have a strong preference for any of these archetypes. Their notes serve a clear purpose that’s often based on a short-term priority (e.g, writing a paper or passing a test), with the goal to “get it done” as simply as possible.
The typical student note taking method of transcribing, using (or often not using at all), and keeping notes is doomed to failure.
Many students make the mistake of not making their own actual notes. By this I don't mean they're not writing information down. In fact many are writing information down, but we can't really call these notes. Notes by definition ought to transform something seen or heard into one's own words. Without the transformation, these students think that they're taking notes, but in reality they're focusing their efforts on being transcriptionists. They're attempting to capture something for later consumption. This is a deadly trap! By only transcribing, they're not taking advantage of transforming information by putting ideas down in their own words to test their understanding. Often worse, even if they do transcribe notes, they don't revisit them. If they do revisit them, they're simply re-reading them and not actively working with them. Only re-reading them will lead to the illusion that they're learning something when in fact they're falling into the mere-exposure effect.
Students who are acting as transcriptionists would be better off simply reading a textbook and taking notes directly from that.
A note that isn't revisited or revised, may as well be a note not taken. If we were to consider a spectrum of useful, valuable, and worthwhile notes, these notes would be at the lowest end of the spectrum.
- Apr 2022
Researchdemonstrates that students who engage in active learning acquire a deeperunderstanding of the material, score higher on exams, and are less likely to failor drop out.
Active learning is a pedagogical structure whereby a teacher presents a problem to a group of students and has them (usually in smaller groups) collectively work on the solutions together. By talking and arguing amongst themselves they actively learn together not only how to approach problems, but to come up with their own solutions. Teachers can then show the correct answer, discuss why it was right and explain how the alternate approaches may have gone wrong. Research indicates that this approach helps provide a deeper understanding of the materials presented this way, that students score higher on exams and are less likely to either fail or drop out of these courses.
Active learning sounds very similar to the sorts of approaches found in flipped classrooms. Is the overlap between the two approaches the same, or are there parts of the Venn diagrams of the two that differ, and, if so, how do they differ? Which portions are more beneficial?
Does this sort of active learning approach also help to guard against "group think" as the result of comparing solutions from various groups? How might this be applied to democracy? Would separate versions of committees that then convene to compare notes and come up with solutions improve the quality of solutions?
A 2019 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy ofSciences supports Wieman’s hunch. Tracking the intellectual advancement ofseveral hundred graduate students in the sciences over the course of four years,its authors found that the development of crucial skills such as generatinghypotheses, designing experiments, and analyzing data was closely related to thestudents’ engagement with their peers in the lab, and not to the guidance theyreceived from their faculty mentors.
Learning has been shown to be linked to engagement with peers in social situations over guidance from faculty mentors.
Cross reference: David F. Feldon et al., “Postdocs’ Lab Engagement Predicts Trajectories of PhD Students’ Skill Development,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 116 (October 2019): 20910–16
Are there areas where this is not the case? Are there areas where this is more the case than not?
Is it our evolution as social animals that has heightened this effect? How could this be shown? (Link this to prior note about social evolution.)
Is it the ability to scaffold out questions and answers and find their way by slowly building up experience with each other that facilitates this effect?
Could this effect be seen in annotating texts as well? If one's annotations become a conversation with the author, is there a learning benefit even when the author can't respond? By trying out writing about one's understanding of a text and seeing where the gaps are and then revisiting the text to fill them in, do we gain this same sort of peer engagement? How can we encourage students to ask questions to the author and/or themselves in the margins? How can we encourage them to further think about and explore these questions? Answer these questions over time?
A key part of the solution is not just writing the annotations down in the first place, but keeping them, reviewing over them, linking them together, revisiting them and slowly providing answers and building solutions for both themselves and, by writing them down, hopefully for others as well.
- Mar 2022
- Feb 2022
We face here the same choice between methods that make us feellike we learned something and methods that truly do make us learnsomething.
What methods of studying actually make us learn something versus make us feel as if we've learned something?
Active reading, progressive summarization may be on this list while highlighting and underlining might not. Or perhaps there's a spectrum of poor to good, and if this is the case, what does it look like? Is it the same for everyone or are factors like neurodivergence part of the equation which might change this spectrum of learning methods and techniques?
- Aug 2020
Whiting, Sue, Sam Wass, Simon Green, and Michael Thomas. ‘Stress and Learning in Pupils: Neuroscience Evidence and Its Relevance for Teachers’. Preprint. PsyArXiv, 4 August 2020. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/9j24a.
- primary school
- breathing exercises
- stress management techniques
- learning styles
- psychological techniques
- physiological techniques