Last week I completed an online MOOC with Coursera on Learning How to Learn. It was a 4 week course that explains how the brain works in acquiring knowledge using two specific methods i.e. the focused mode and the diffused mode. The focused mode is the mode we use when we want to concentrate on details, while the diffused mode is used when we want to obtain a big picture perspective of what we are learning. The brain cannot be in both modes at the same time and it is beneficial to switch from focused mode to diffused at regular intervals.
A good way of getting into a focused mode is to use the “pomodoro method” which is just a concentrated time of say 25 minutes with a timer set in which one does intense concentration/learning and afterwards takes a break and then resumes the process later on. Using this method is more beneficial in the long run and helps ground the concepts you are trying to learn.
Chunking was also discussed and the importance of gaining context for what you are trying to learn. Recall and practise go a long way to cementing a good long term memory foundation.
The course also dealt with procrastination, how to recognise it and how to deal with it, making use of visual and spatial memory techniques and memorization.
This is an extremely insightful course, beneficial to any subject.
Oakley, Barbara and Sejnowski, Terrence (2016). Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects [online]. University of California, San Diego. Available at: https://www.coursera.org/learn/learning-how-to-learn [Accessed 7 February, 2016]