How Top Students Study and Learn

There’s been LOTS of research into this topic, and some of it has been collected in the book The new science of learning. [Coursera] To name a few things that improve the quality and effectiveness of learning:

  • Growth Mindset (Ref.Carol Dweck) – a good students work on the assumption that their capacity increases with effort, rather than being limited by “hard” physical limits;
  • Metacognition – they think about, and reflect on, their efforts and process;
  • Responsibility – they practice self-regulated learning and participate actively in their development. Often they focus more on intrinsic motivation than just “getting an A”;
  • Deep Thinking – rather than trying to remember / reproduce the course materials, they look for connections with other subjects and try to gain a deeper understanding of the principles underlying the subject matter;
  • Task Analysis & planning – they make sure to understand what their learning goals are, and make plans on how to achieve those goals;
  • Strategy – a good student can choose between different learning strategies: reading and repeating the course material, practicing, peer discussion, times of day, etc. They choose the strategies that fit the subject matter, learning goals and their personal preference.
  • Nutrition – eating healthy and avoiding sugars and junk food gives the brain the nutrients it needs to work optimally;
  • Exercise – same as nutrition, it helps the brain to function. Cramming for 8 hours straight is never an effective strategy.

These are just a few general points, but at the core of it are motivated, attention and attitude.

By: Patrick van Aalst, Applied Science University Instructor

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