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Learning to Learn Skills

Colleagues,

Study skills or, as my colleague Marcia Heiman, co-author of a book with the title Learning to Learn: Thinking Skills for the 21st Century nicely puts it, learning to learn skills, are important to all learners, and are especially needed by adults who plan or are enrolled in post-secondary learning or training.  In this thread we can explore all learning to learn skills, ranging from: where to study, how to study, how to study using Internet-accessible computers and digital devices, how to learn new vocabulary, active listening, note-taking, reading between the lines, preparing for tests, how to reward oneself for unexciting but necessary practice, how to keep focused, how to persist when the learning is difficult, and more.

Is this an important topic for you? For your students? How do you address learning to learn skills now? What works for your students?

David J. Rosen

djrosen123@gmail.com

Comments

David J. Rosen's picture
One hundred

To dive in to learning to learn (study skills), I am interested in note-taking.  I hope you are, too. Which do you think is better; a pen or pencil, or a digital device? Is it faster to take notes on a laptop or tablet, or the old-fashioned way using pen and paper? Which is more effective?  Here's an NPR article about some recent research on that question. Does this resonate with your own experience, or with your students' experience?

Do you teach your students how to take notes? If so, what strategies do you teach?

What problems do your students have when they take notes? How do you know? Do you have a formative assessment strategy for examining how they take notes, and how they may be improving?

Thanks.

David J. Rosen

djrosen123@gmail.com

Leecy's picture
One hundred

David, thanks so much for opening this dialogue on critical learning skills! Re note-taking, I"m reminded of how books used to be treasured and "sacred." Adding notes to books used to be a no-no. However, there is much to be said about diving into books armed with a pencil for underlining and adding reminders to enhance learning. I wonder what others here think about writing in books?

It also occurs that some learners, like me, learn better through doodling, which is one form of note-taking, isn't it? Can't wait to hear more! Leecy

Di Baycich's picture
One hundred

I am not surprised that taking notes by hand vs. by computer is more effective. I used to be very careful about wriitng in my books until I attended a study strategies workshop and learned about margin notes. I have never been the same. Now I can't read a book or an article without a pencil in my hand to take notes on what I'm reading. Easy to review and the text and notes are all in one place.

rwessel51's picture
One hundred

I agree that when taking notes on a keyboard, the words have a habit of going directly from the ear to the fingers, bypassing the brain.

There are a couple of ways to highlight and annotate online materials that I use, which I will share in case anyone else can use them.

PC versions of Chrome, Edge, and probably the other major browsers have print-to-PDF feature that allows you to save a print document as a PDF file instead of sending it to a printer. The PDF can then be opened in Adobe Reader (and possibly others) and annotated. To demonstrate, I printed this discussion to PDF and used Adobe Reader to highlight sections of text and add a few dumb notes. If you open the file in Adobe Reader and hover over or click the callouts (the cartoon bubbles) you should see my notes. One nice thing about this approach is you can go back later and add to the notes without running out of margin space. Here is the link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxKIVyVzTwSDWDV6cGNCWGxiQnM/view?usp=sharing . Because there doesn’t seem to be a way to upload the file to this comment, you’ll need to download it and open it in Adobe Reader.

If you’re in the Amazon ecosystem, you can do the same thing with your Kindle device or app. Amazon has Send to Kindle software that lets you send documents to your device or reader software directly, without having to go through the Amazon store. I believe the Send to Kindle software will convert it to the proper format, but, if not, you can always use Calibre (https://calibre-ebook.com/) to convert it to .mobi format.

I went with the Amazon ecosystem instead of the others because all versions of the Kindle Readers not only come with mono-lingual dictionaries in a number of languages, but you can also buy bi-lingual ones.

Leecy's picture
One hundred

Soooo cool, Robert. I know about saving text into PDF, but I never took the process to the next step as a note-taking tool. Can't wait to read more goodies from everyone on this topic! Thanks! Leecy

David J. Rosen's picture
One hundred

Hi Di, and others,

Years ago I learned a strategy for lecture or presentation note taking from Marcia Heiman's Learning to Learn work. Take a sheet of lined paper and fold it vertically making two columns, the left one about a third of the width of the page. Take verbatim or summary notes in the right-hand column on what the presenter is saying. In the left-hand column, ideally during the presentation, or perhaps afterwards, write the question you think the presenter is trying to answer. Sometimes that's easy because the presenter makes the question explicit. Usually, however, it isn't explicit, and the metacognitive task of focusing on the question often helps one to remember and organize the answer(s). 

If you haven't already, try it yourself, and let us know what happens. If you already use this technique, and teach it, how do you find it works for your students?

David J. Rosen

djrosen123@gmail.com