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Learning how to learn
Learning how to learn

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2 Thinking about your learning

2.1 Introduction

In encouraging you to think explicitly about how you learn, as well as about what you learn, we are drawing on research about learning which has shown that this approach can actually improve your performance. Certainly it can and will make you a more efficient and effective learner. Before we start to explore the process, let us consider two general points about learning.

  1. There is no single method of learning that guarantees success. How you learn best depends on many different factors, some of which we will explore in this course. One of the main reasons for producing the course is to help you find out which approach to learning is most effective for you in a range of different contexts. In each context, different tasks will require different approaches.

  2. What works best for you will not necessarily be the same as the approach used by other students, even those studying the same course. We are all unique as learners, although there are some patterns that emerge in any group of students. It is important to explore a whole range of approaches because that will enable you to find out what works best for you. By all means, do share ideas, techniques, tips and hints with other students and do try some that seem to work well for your colleagues, but if they do not work for you, modify or reject their suggestions. And that goes for the ideas in this course as well.

The most important aspect of learning how to learn is that you really do need to actively think about your learning. Let us continue thinking about your learning by moving from the analysis of a single learning activity to a wider view of you as a learner. Two main things will probably affect your approach to learning:

  • your motivation (the reasons why you are engaged in a particular course of study)
  • your previous history as a learner, both in a formal setting (such as at school or on another course) and informally, through unstructured or unexpected learning experiences.

Pause for a moment and consider each of these two points in turn.