Boosting Learning through Memory and Concentration

You’ve reflected on some of your habits for memorization and concentration. Both of these contribute significantly to learning, so they are definitely worth working on!

Below are some additional habits that may be affecting your studies. Do you recognize any of these in your life?

alarm clockIf you... don’t get enough sleep. Try this:

  • Work to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. This is critical for your learning, performance, and memory.

clockIf you... spend entire days studying. Try this:

  • Study in small regular blocks. To increase memory, study information in small blocks of time with short breaks between sessions.
  • Be strategic. You will be able to concentrate longer on subjects you find more interesting or relevant.
  • Know yourself. Focus is stronger at times of day when you are most alert.

headphonesIf you... study quietly. Try this:

  • Repeat what you hear out loud. This increases the likelihood you'll record the information and be able to retrieve it later.
  • Use your senses. You will better retain information if you utilize more of your senses. For example, some people retain information by speaking things aloud, others through doodling new ideas. Except taste. Don’t eat your textbooks.

pencilIf you... put your pencil down while studying. Try this:

  • Pick up that pencil and write stuff down. Our skill at recognition is stronger than our skill at recall. Writing and reading a list provides additional hooks to get things memorized.

calendarIf you... wait to study a few days before the test. Try this:

  • Review soon after receiving new information. It’s easier to review rather than forget and have to relearn. See the Curve of Forgetting.

one at a timeIf you... learn things one-by-one. Try this: 

  • Organize and categorize information. Try to establish relationships between ideas and categorize them in a method that will allow you to remember them.
  • Divide information into chunks. Our memory struggles with large amounts of new information. Divide things up and memorize each part separately.
  • Link old and new information. Link new information to what you already know. Memorization is strengthened by sequences, so placing new information in relation to something already in memory will help with recall.

groupIf you... study alone. Try this: 

  • Study with others. Reviewing and presenting information to other students will help you understand course content.

Pro Tip: Create your own study group!

study groups

  • Get the right people
  • Gather with motivated peers who are task oriented. No more than 5 people.
  • Get the right location
  • Study where you can all talk openly, spread materials, and have the tools you need, i.e. a whiteboard.
  • Get a plan
  • Agree on expectations and practices of the group.

Working on these habits and building better skills in these areas is a great start. Now it's time to self-reflect and look at how your own attitude and behaviors affect your concentration.