How to get the most out of study?

Useful videos presented by Dr Stephen Chew.

Here are part 3 and 4:

Here is my reflection on How to achieve results through study and learning.

My reflection on: How to achieve results through Study and Learning?

I would like to reflect on my experience in achieving results in this paper.

I have always admired people who are highly intelligent and wise.  These people could think analytically, critically, recall matters easily.  They are always prepared to accept challenges and changes.

I have always wished that I could master the best way to achieve, whether it is an academic result or a career goal.  With trial and error, I have acquired some skills and techniques in achieving results, and I would like to share them with you.

Wish

First, what would you like to achieve? Once you have written down your wishes, they could become the goals that you would like to achieve.  If you have a number of wishes or goals, would you consider prioritizing them in order?  Consider using some subjective or objective criteria in the prioritization process, depending on what you think are most appropriate.  This may be difficult, but try to make it as simple as possible at the start.  That is, you just list these goals in order of its importance and urgency.  The most urgent and important goals should be considered first.

An example may be as follows:

Goal 1

To achieve a high distinction (>85 marks) in three academic subjects: Psychology, Engineering Mathematics, and Science.

Goal 2

To reduce weight by ten percent within 6 months (i.e. from 75 kg to 67.5 kg).

When writing down the goals, you need to state them out in specific terms. Avoid writing vague or overly ambitious goals because you may find yourself having difficulty in achieving them.  At the start, you may like to try some easy to achieve goals.  This would give you confidence and a feeling of success.  Once you have achieved the easier goals, you could try writing out more challenging goals, which could reinforce your determination to achieve and a way to improve.  You need to pay caution to the establishment of these goals, because very often we might have goals set up which are beyond our control, or that there are many environmental factors, which could affect the progress that we could hardly achieve.  In these cases, it would be wise to revise the goals whenever we feel necessary.

Way

Once you have the wishes, or goals, you must have a way of achieving these goals.  You may achieve these goals by using strategies and methods.  The strategies laid out the approach you could adopt in achieving your goals.

Example: The goal is to achieve high distinction (above 85%) in Engineering Mathematics.

Strategies:

– Analyze procedures in arriving to solutions.

– Review techniques in solving problems.

– Apply techniques to different situations.

After devising the strategies, you need to consider the methods to use.  It is important to devise the most effective and efficient methods associated with the strategies. Consider the 5 Ws and 1 H, that is: What? When? Where? Why? Who? and How? relating to the method.

Method Example:

To complete exercises on a daily basis: (40 problems in text) within the allocated time for each exercise and to achieve an average of 95%  for the exercises.

To complete past tests within the allocated time and to achieve an average of 95% with standard deviation of 2% allowable.  This must be achieved 2 weeks before the examination.

Will

After you have designed the way to achieve results, perhaps the most difficult part of the course of study is the will.  This means whether you have got the desire to achieve the results through the strategies and methods that you have developed.  This may also be your passion towards learning.

For every learning task or activity that you have developed, there are four main elements that you need to ensure to accomplish the task:  Concentration, Diligence, Think (critical thinking, reflection, analysis and synthesis), and Review.

Concentration – this refers to a deep concentration (or focus) on a particular task or activity that you are working on.

Example 1: If you are working on a research project, you are likely to plan, do, check and act  This involves planning your work, organizing the information, resources or artifacts that you have collected or curated. You would then analyze the details and synthesize the information or resources as necessary. After a critical review, you would then present it in accordance to the need of your target reader.  This requires a systematic approach in research writing, because you have to put it in a proper format that aligns with your readers’ needs.  You would need to focus on the main points and avoid deviating from them.  You must avoid jumping steps, as this might upset your logical thinking. So, concentration here refers to a single mind when doing a particular task.

Example 2: Suppose you are a medical practitioner and are performing a surgical operation.  You must concentrate while performing your surgery and avoid any thinking that are unrelated to the surgery.  This is critical as the life of the patient depends on how you perform!  In this way, you would concentrate to complete the operation.

If you can keep this in mind in your study, then you are placing good emphasis in concentration (with a sense of focus), and success is not far from reach.

Diligence – this is one of the most critical factors in achievement.  I won’t over emphasize the importance of diligence.  Based on my experience diligence could contribute to the achievement of results.  Though sometimes diligence might not always give you the results that you want, due to numerous reasons, one should never forget that without diligence, achievement would be based on ‘luck’, and ‘luck’ could come and go unplanned, and thus is unpredictable.

Think – this refers to critical thinking and critical reflection, and our ability to analyze and synthesize the matters you have learnt, and Metacognition – thinking how to think and learning how to learn.  Critical thinking and personal reflection through thinking aloud could be effective ways to challenging your assumptions, shifting your lens and frame of reference, and viewing things, incidences, other’s perspectives and experiences from different angles. Through analysis and synthesis, you could better understand the parts of the system and thus could more thoroughly devise better ways in achieving results.  This depends on your skills, experience and habits.

Review – this is one of the most important parts of the learning process.  By reviewing your goals, strategies, methods and way of thinking and reflection, you could better understand your strengths and weaknesses (or areas of development) so that you could develop goals which might be more appropriate and strategies and methods which are pragmatic in achieving the goals and results.

Remember that we cannot change the past, and what has happened belongs to the past.  We could “manage” the present, and develop ourselves in response to future challenges – by proper planning, execution and review of the tasks, activities or projects.

Success comes not through luck, but hard work, perseverance and failures.  Failure is the mother of success.  If you have never tried, you would never fail.  If you have never failed, you might not have tried hard enough, as success coming up too easily means that there are always more challenging goals for you to try, in order to learn.

This summarizes how I had learnt at that time – back in the 90s.  How do I learn now? See my coming posts :)

Picture: Google image

How about your story of Learning? Can’t wait to hear and learn!

 

Reading and Study Habits

Thanks to Fabian for this post.  Here is the related post on coursesmart-e-textbooks-track-students-progress-for-teachers.

“The possibilities of harm are tremendous if teachers are naïve enough to think these scores mean anything for the vast majority of students,” Professor Dede said.

CourseSmart says the data it collects now is a beginning. “We’ll ultimately show how the student traverses the book,” Mr. Devine said. “There’s a correlation and causality between engagement and success.”

Interesting. Such tool could be useful if we use it wisely. The main concerns still lie with privacy, confidentiality, security and autonomy of students. Should professors intervene after knowing about students’ habits. To what extent should students’ habits be “studied”, without their consent? What are the ethical issues here? Should education be “neutral” in the imposition of certain “valued” habits, or should students be offered with choice or advice if they want them only?

#Change11 My reflection on: How to achieve results through Study and Learning?

Mary says in her comments on Slow Learning.

This part just doesn’t resonate for me…. Stories belong to the folk… They are part of the traditional apprenticeship model. …..(ex., The Chinese Bamboo Story)…The cognitive apprenticeship model is not quite like the traditional model. Allan Collins, John Seely Brown and Susan E. Newman (1987) discuss this in “Cognitive Apprenticeship: Teaching the Craft of Reading, Writing and Mathematics” (http://ctrstreadtechrepv01987i00403_opt.pdf) provide an explanation of what is meant by cognitive apprenticeship, describe strategies that can be used to promote higher levels of comprehension, problem solving and more sophisticated writing. The authors reciprocal teaching as one of several cognitive methods for helping students to improve their problem-solving and thinking when completing tasks… The approach uses discussion techniques, such as think alouds and metacognition to engage students in dialogue and critique about specific content throughout the learning experience. Reciprocal teaching is an integrate set of strategies–questioning, summarizing, clarifying, and predicting–that Virginia Palinsar and Ann Brown devised to help teachers to teach students to read through a passage, paragraph-by-paragraph with comprehension. After the teacher models the procedure in the first paragraph, the student takes the role of teacher and models these strategies for the teacher in the second paragraph, and eventually students use the strategy in pairs, then on their own. (I can see how you are making the connection to the Chinese Bamboo story.) The cognitive apprenticeship model with differ in mathematics. Alan Schoenfield proposes a heuristic for teaching mathematical problem solving that engages students in reflection on their problem-solving processes. He suggests that students alternate with teachers in producing a “postmortum analysis,” which involves generating alternative solutions or methods and stating reasons and evidence for their decisions. Scardemalia and Bereiter’s model of writing relies on teachers modeling the writing process and leading children to engage in the writing process providing coaching and supports so that they develop as more sophisticated writers. Collins, Brown, and Newman went on to discuss how to design learning environments using the cognitive apprenticeship approach. The model has been applied in educational settings for more than twenty years and in a variety of ways. For example, in 1995 Sanna Jarvela published an article entitled “The Cognitive Apprenticeship Model in a Technologically-Rich Learning Environment: interpreting learning interaction, which was published in Learning and Instruction, volume 5, issue 3retrieved fromhttp://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/095947529500007P. John Seely Brown recently looked at 21st century applications to games, for example…. and so on…”

I am not sure how to respond to her comments. I understand what Cognitive Apprenticeship means, though I have adopted a different way of learning, based on goals, problems and project based learning in the past. I wouldn’t call my way of learning any way near to the Cognitive Apprenticeship model.  I always prefer to learn in an autonomous manner – setting my own goals, and learning in a way that suits me, privately and with the networks or communities.  Do I use “Reciprocal teaching – an integrate set of strategies–questioning, summarizing, clarifying, and predicting”? Yes, I do, but that would be mainly with myself, and at times with my network or community.

So, may I start with this adventure of sharing my learning experience and insights, and stories whereas any of you who would also like to share your stories and experience with me would be greatly appreciated?  As I am writing most parts of this “story” on my own, I don’t need to worry about copyright issues, and I would need minimum reference to academic papers.

The following is a short paper I wrote on 30 Dec 1997. Here I have slightly updated it and included some videos to illustrate my points.  I have never published it, and as I wrote it based mainly on my experience and previous learning through networking, I haven’t included lots of reference.

My reflection on: How to achieve results through Study and Learning?

I would like to reflect on my experience in achieving results in this paper.

I have always admired people who are highly intelligent and wise.  These people could think analytically, critically, recall matters easily.  They are always prepared to accept challenges and changes.

I have always wished that I could master the best way to achieve, whether it is an academic result or a career goal.  With trial and error, I have acquired some skills and techniques in achieving results, and I would like to share them with you.

Wish

First, what would you like to achieve? Once you have written down your wishes, they could become the goals that you would like to achieve.  If you have a number of wishes or goals, would you consider prioritizing them in order?  Consider using some subjective or objective criteria in the prioritization process, depending on what you think are most appropriate.  This may be difficult, but try to make it as simple as possible at the start.  That is, you just list these goals in order of its importance and urgency.  The most urgent and important goals should be considered first.

An example may be as follows:

Goal 1

To achieve a high distinction (>85 marks) in three academic subjects: Psychology, Engineering Mathematics, and Science.

Goal 2

To reduce weight by ten percent within 6 months (i.e. from 75 kg to 67.5 kg).

When writing down the goals, you need to state them out in specific terms. Avoid writing vague or overly ambitious goals because you may find yourself having difficulty in achieving them.  At the start, you may like to try some easy to achieve goals.  This would give you confidence and a feeling of success.  Once you have achieved the easier goals, you could try writing out more challenging goals, which could reinforce your determination to achieve and a way to improve.  You need to pay caution to the establishment of these goals, because very often we might have goals set up which are beyond our control, or that there are many environmental factors, which could affect the progress that we could hardly achieve.  In these cases, it would be wise to revise the goals whenever we feel necessary.

Way

Once you have the wishes, or goals, you must have a way of achieving these goals.  You may achieve these goals by using strategies and methods.  The strategies laid out the approach you could adopt in achieving your goals.

Example: The goal is to achieve high distinction (above 85%) in Engineering Mathematics.

Strategies:

– Analyze procedures in arriving to solutions.

– Review techniques in solving problems.

– Apply techniques to different situations.

After devising the strategies, you need to consider the methods to use.  It is important to devise the most effective and efficient methods associated with the strategies. Consider the 5 Ws and 1 H, that is: What? When? Where? Why? Who? and How? relating to the method.

Method Example:

To complete exercises on a daily basis: (40 problems in text) within the allocated time for each exercise and to achieve an average of 95%  for the exercises.

To complete past tests within the allocated time and to achieve an average of 95% with standard deviation of 2% allowable.  This must be achieved 2 weeks before the examination.

Will

After you have designed the way to achieve results, perhaps the most difficult part of the course of study is the will.  This means whether you have got the desire to achieve the results through the strategies and methods that you have developed.  This may also be your passion towards learning.

For every learning task or activity that you have developed, there are four main elements that you need to ensure to accomplish the task:  Concentration, Diligence, Think (critical thinking, reflection, analysis and synthesis), and Review.

Concentration – this refers to a deep concentration (or focus) on a particular task or activity that you are working on.

Example 1: If you are working on a research project, you are likely to plan, do, check and act  This involves planning your work, organizing the information, resources or artifacts that you have collected or curated. You would then analyze the details and synthesize the information or resources as necessary. After a critical review, you would then present it in accordance to the need of your target reader.  This requires a systematic approach in research writing, because you have to put it in a proper format that aligns with your readers’ needs.  You would need to focus on the main points and avoid deviating from them.  You must avoid jumping steps, as this might upset your logical thinking. So, concentration here refers to a single mind when doing a particular task.

Example 2: Suppose you are a medical practitioner and are performing a surgical operation.  You must concentrate while performing your surgery and avoid any thinking that are unrelated to the surgery.  This is critical as the life of the patient depends on how you perform!  In this way, you would concentrate to complete the operation.

If you can keep this in mind in your study, then you are placing good emphasis in concentration (with a sense of focus), and success is not far from reach.

Diligence – this is one of the most critical factors in achievement.  I won’t over emphasize the importance of diligence.  Based on my experience diligence could contribute to the achievement of results.  Though sometimes diligence might not always give you the results that you want, due to numerous reasons, one should never forget that without diligence, achievement would be based on ‘luck’, and ‘luck’ could come and go unplanned, and thus is unpredictable.

Think – this refers to critical thinking and critical reflection, and our ability to analyze and synthesize the matters you have learnt, and Metacognition – thinking how to think and learning how to learn.  Critical thinking and personal reflection through thinking aloud could be effective ways to challenging your assumptions, shifting your lens and frame of reference, and viewing things, incidences, other’s perspectives and experiences from different angles. Through analysis and synthesis, you could better understand the parts of the system and thus could more thoroughly devise better ways in achieving results.  This depends on your skills, experience and habits.

Review – this is one of the most important parts of the learning process.  By reviewing your goals, strategies, methods and way of thinking and reflection, you could better understand your strengths and weaknesses (or areas of development) so that you could develop goals which might be more appropriate and strategies and methods which are pragmatic in achieving the goals and results.

Remember that we cannot change the past, and what has happened belongs to the past.  We could “manage” the present, and develop ourselves in response to future challenges – by proper planning, execution and review of the tasks, activities or projects.

Success comes not through luck, but hard work, perseverance and failures.  Failure is the mother of success.  If you have never tried, you would never fail.  If you have never failed, you might not have tried hard enough, as success coming up too easily means that there are always more challenging goals for you to try, in order to learn.

This summarizes how I had learnt at that time – back in the 90s.  How do I learn now? See my coming posts 🙂

Picture: Google image

How about your story of Learning? Can’t wait to hear and learn!

Get a Life

I read this Goodbye Academia: Get a Life and Disposable Academic with interest.

Why?  For the Goodbye post, the author provides some realistic personal anecdotes and perspective that tells those who are interested in academia the pros and cons of pursuing an academic career, through a PhD study.  Not every one wants to pursue such an academic pathway, and though there were many who succeeded in achieving their goals, and having their dreams come true, it is not surprising that many others are enjoying or “struggling” their way through.

In the Disposable Academic post:

Indeed, the production of PhDs has far outstripped demand for university lecturers. In a recent book, Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus, an academic and a journalist, report that America produced more than 100,000 doctoral degrees between 2005 and 2009. In the same period there were just 16,000 new professorships.

This seems to match an Asian “motto” of: “Lots of “monks”, small amount of porridge”.  Landing on an academic career seems to become a dream for many, but a fantasy or even an ideology for many academically bright scholars.  A reality check means that many scholars have to strive hard in order to compete in the field.

To me, that is a hard lesson to learn, as I reflected on my own graduate study.

“Measurements and incentives might be changed, too. Some university departments and academics regard numbers of PhD graduates as an indicator of success and compete to produce more. For the students, a measure of how quickly those students get a permanent job, and what they earn, would be more useful.” Disposable Academic

So, get a life.