The science of everyday thinking

16 09 2014

A few months ago, I took this amazing course from edX called ‘The Science of Everyday Thinking” offered by Queensland University, Australia. I thoroughly enjoyed the course and found it very fulfilling. Too bad I didn’t think of narrating my experiences on this blog back then. It would have been a very rich and rewarding endeavor. Nevertheless, I would like to take this opportunity to reminisce about the wonderful journey it was and try to put forth some of the interesting and useful facts and findings in a short series of posts.

The best thing I liked about the course, besides the content and the interviews with renowned researchers, is the way in which the instruction is delivered. It is delivered in the form of a conversation between the two instructors against varied backdrops. This novel approach created a sense of informality and increased the dosage of fun element in the learning.

The first thing that comes to my mind when I think about the course is the module on “Learning”. Each one of us has his or her own way of learning. Different things work for different people, or so we think. But research indicates that a handful of powerful strategies help in learning, universally. Scientists say that it is always more beneficial to practice these strategies instead of wasting time and effort in less fruitful methods. The strategies include:

  • Retrieval practice
  • Using flash cards
  • Distributing the practice over a few weeks instead of cramming the night before the test
  • Spacing effect –  spacing the learning is good for retention
  • Mix up examples from different chapters and try to figure out which is which
  • Transfer: take knowledge acquired in one context and apply it to another
  • Testing yourself.
  • Stop and think: can you summarize?

Researchers remind us that learning is a difficult process and that there is no easy way to do it right. That is, unless you go through the uncomfortable-ness of testing yourself, summarizing, coming up with new examples etc., real learning doesn’t happen. You won’t learn much just by more highlighting, re-reading or writing.

Part 1 of Science of Everyday Thinking Series.

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2 responses

23 09 2014
Forewarned is forearmed | Peek Inside My Mind

[…] Part 1 […]

5 06 2017
My MOOC journey – 3 | Peek Inside My Mind

[…] of my fun stuff, the following are the best: • The Science of Happiness (series of posts) • The Science of Everyday Thinking (edX) • Life of Happiness and Fulfillment Besides being fun, these are truly life-changing and […]

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