Learning, thinking and doing
Learning, thinking and doing

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Learning, thinking and doing

1.1 Effective course study

Research into how people study effectively suggests that it is important to pay attention not only to the content of what we are trying to learn but also to the process of our learning. Time spent on the process of how you are learning need not be a distraction from achieving your learning goals. It should support your efforts to achieve them.

However, thinking about the process of your own learning is not something which typically forms part of most formal courses of study. Most people probably learn most things without giving a thought to how they manage to learn in the first place. Even failure to learn may not prompt much exploration because so often people conclude that the fault lies with themselves, or the subject, or personal dislike of the teacher. Exploration is avoided by quickly moving to the conclusion that 'I'm no good at maths', or 'history is just boring facts'. I'm sure you can supply your own version of this closing down of the issue.

When we avoid trying to find out why we have failed to learn something there are implications for the long term as well as the short term. In the short term, we abandon a goal to succeed in learning some subject or skill which might have been important to us. In the long term, we learn to live with the idea of accepting failure by judging ourselves or others negatively – we aren't clever enough or the teacher wasn't interesting enough and so on. We do not learn how to sort out what is stopping us from learning and how we might tackle the difficulty with more success. We do not therefore improve our capacity to learn in the future.

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