The learning methods from educational psychology.

Studying is enjoyable for me, but studying for an examination is miserable especially when the contents learned are boring and meaningless.

I even don’t want to call that studying. That’s preparing an examine only. I can gain only a few knowledge during the preparation of most of examines. However, the less is not equal to the none. It is valuable even when only 10 percents of the contents I learned are useful while the others are not. ( Don’t waste the time if the valuable contents account less then 10 percent.)

I had prepared for the Education Certification Examine for nearly two months from September to November. The time is so hard for me for these three reasons here.

  • First, I neither took any examine nor learned anything by heart after I graduated in 2014.
  • Second, 90 percents of the contents are boring.
  • Third, I had worked overtime during the whole of September and haven’t enough time to prepare it. I almost hardly prepare for the third subject.

I might forgo if I hadn’t paid the fee. However, no matter what the result is, the knowledge I gained in the two months about the leaning methods in educational psychology is valuable. That is what I summarize here.

Motivation Curve

The Motivation Curve means the relation between one’s motivations and results. The motivations I mentioned here includes not only learning motivations but also working motivations and the motivations to solve problems. You may think that the stronger motivations you have, the better results you will gain. But the research from a psychologist (I don’t think it is useful to memorize such a name here) shows that the relation between the motivations and the results formed a curve of a reversed U. Both strong and weak motivations will make a negative impact on the results. The curve is also relative to the difficulty of the tasks. The best level of motivation is higher in easy tasks then that in difficult ones.


Short-term Memories and Long-term Memories

The textbooks I used in preparing for examines provides only simple and general knowledge. They won’t explain everything deeply. Fortunately, I had watched the 9.00sc Introduction to Psychology from MIT’s open courseware, in which these contents are also included.

A short-term memory contains 7 \(\pm\) 2 chunks. There is even none explanation of what a chunk is in my textbook. But there is an examination in OCW 9.00sc. The professor showed some letters with no relations and let the students repeat them immediately after he hid them. The average count of letters the students could repeat exactly was seven. Some repeated more than this while some less.

We can change the short-term memories to long-term memories by repeating, the method we often used in junior high school. Read repeatedly and then try to memorize it. The critical period of memory is 24 years old. Unfortunately, I’m beyond that.

The Forgetting Curve

These contents are often mentioned in all kinds of relative books. The speed of forgetting is high in early time and get lower later gradually as the days after learning increased.

The Proactive and Retroactive Inhibition

The proactive inhibition is the negative effect from the contents learned earlier to later and the reverse is the retroactive one. According to this theory, the results of learning during one period of time formed a reverse U curve. The effectiveness of learning is better in the early period and the late period than that in the medium. The later is better than the earlier. The best time to learn something by heart in a day is in the evening.

The Learning Strategy

The Elaboration Strategy

The so-called Elaboration Strategy is to organize the learning materials by some formats and make them easy to be learned by heart. You can get more details about this from a book How to learn effectively?.

Organizing Strategy

It’s difficult for us whose ages are beyond the critical period to memory things directly. We should try to understand them instead. The Elaboration Strategy will make an impact on short-term memories only. And the better way is to organize the materials of multiple knowledge. One of the advantages of us at present compared to when we were young is the amount of knowledge. There are relations among all kinds of knowledge. We will feel easy to learn new things if we can deal with these relations effectively.

But how to deal with these relations? That will compose an entire book!

Multisensory Application Strategy

Some psychologists demonstrated that 83% of what people learned are from vision, 11% are from hearing, 3.5% are from olfactory, 1.5% are from tactile, and the rest 1% are from tasing. People can remember 10% of what they read, 20% of what they listened, 30% of what they saw, and 70% of what they said during a conversation.

(This is the original text from the textbook. The ‘some psychologists’ proves sufficiently what I said in the earlier paragraph that ‘name are meanless’.)

It is better to take a lesson than to learn by yourself if you can choose. The switch of multisensory is also helpful to concentrate on something. For example, if you find your attention are away from the textbooks, try to read it aloud. (You should have a rest if you find that isn’t helpful.)

Time Management Strategy

The strategy of time management is to allocate your time spent on learning. I’m no longer in the college. Now, I have pressures from career, the society and even the life itself. It isn’t easy to just keep learning in such a condition. So good time management and energy management is essential to me.

I felt so tired in the day after the day I finished the Education Certification Examine that the whole body was in pain and weary as if I had finished a serve aerobics. I couldn’t relax even then because there is another examine which is more important waiting for me. I started to prepare for the next mission immediately. However, the effectiveness of learning was so low. I even couldn’t concentrate on studying. Even then I can’t take a relax entirely. I may forgo if I do that. But I adjusted the schedule and cut some portion of the time to learn.

The things I summarised here.

First, you should make full use of the time after your day-work, which is effective for those people who hardly work overtime. If you get home at nine pm or even later, just go to bed and sleep. A two-hours of learning every day in a week is more effective than a ten-hours of learning in one day according to educational psychology. And as I have mentioned before, the best period of time to learn is evening.

Second, try the Tomato Working Method, which is also useful in learning. It is a method you can use to manage your attention. You can’t keep a long continuous concentration on your learning and maybe no one can. If you find your attention is away from what you are learning, maybe you should have a rest. One of the main ideas in the Tomato Working is to give yourself a signature to switch between working and resting. I have tried this method in learning and daily working, and both are helpful.

Last one, and maybe the most important one, is to exercise and have a good rest. It is worthless to stay up late at night. Only with a strong and healthy body can you live with the tiredness and the pressure.

I study for two hours every work-day, which is an exact Big Tomato Time. I get up at 5:30 in the morning and get to bed before 9:30 pm. One hour and a half of my daily study time are in the evening and the rest is in the morning. Saturday is the day for resting. I can write a novel or publish a post for my blog. Shop or go hiking. Or just watch a movie at home. On Sunday, I take at least two lessons from MIT’s open courseware and use the rest of the time studying. I always use the Tomato Working Method. Take a rest after a two-hours learning, by washing clothes, making meals or cleaning the house.

I often hear someone in the office said that he had no time. It seems ridiculous for those who get work at 8:00 am and leave at 6:00 pm, haven’t got married or had a baby yet, to say that.