What does it take to be a successful learner?
Learning is something we all do, but it’s rare that we actually analyze our learning process and proactively find ways to improve it.
The reality is that the vast majority of what we learn, we forget. That’s because we don’t go on to apply these lessons in our day-to-day lives. This truth has a significant impact on how we can retain the information we’ve learned, recall it at a later time, and use it effectively in a variety of situations, whether in a professional or personal capacity.
Becoming a successful learner doesn’t happen overnight, but adopting the following four study habits can help you make the most of your learning experiences and support you in achieving your goals. In addition, find out how long does it take to break a habit and speed up the process.
In this article, we delve into four key study habits you can foster. We’ll also show you how to practice them to improve your learning retention over time.
1. Adopt a continuous learning mindset.
Continuous learning is about a person’s continued motivation in acquiring new skills and knowledge, with the aim of improving one’s self. This process ultimately helps you increase your skill-set and explore future opportunities.
Adopting a continuous learning mindset is essential to your personal and professional development to avoid stagnation and maximize your potential. Simply put, this is one of the most effective study habits to deal with change.
Here are five reasons why continuous learning helps you become a better learner over time.
- Learning always leads to personal fulfillment. Learning is a necessary component of life. Taking on new challenges to improve your talents boosts your sense of fulfillment, keeping you engaged and happy. Additionally, continuous learning helps you build your leadership qualities, which also encourages others to continue their education.
- Alters your mindset. Continuously learning opens your mind and alters your perspective and attitude towards life by expanding on what you already know. The more you learn, the better you’ll be at seeing different aspects of a subject. This ultimately helps you better understand things that happen around you.
- Boosts your confidence. Learning new skills offers you a sense of accomplishment, enhancing your self-esteem and confidence in your talents. You also tend to feel better prepared to take on new tasks and business initiatives. Obtaining new competencies leads to increased confidence.
- Improves your professional profile. You’ll likely change professions several times over your career, and you’ll need to incorporate new skills to keep up. When you’re constantly learning, you continue to improve and advance in your job. Consequently, you’ll obtain recommendations from coworkers and managers.
- Keeps your knowledge relevant. Learning helps you maintain your industry relevance by staying current with trends and updating your skill-set. To remain valuable in this fast-changing world of technology, you must constantly learn new things.
Adopting a continuous learning mindset is the first key habit to pursue. Next up? Understanding what learning style best suits you.
2. Understand what learning style best suits you.
Being a successful learner requires you to understand how you best learn. It helps to consider various learning styles that capitalize on your strengths.
Here are four common learning styles to help you decide which one best suits you:
- Accommodating learning style: Accommodators are intuitive and prefer to trust their gut impressions above rationality. These learners absorb other people’s analyses and, as a result, will rely on information from others rather than conducting their research. They work best on group work and project assignments that require the participation of numerous persons.
- Converging learning style: This learning style is suitable for learners drawn to both thinking and doing. Such learners thrive on practical experience. Therefore their ideal activities are quizzes, role-playing, and seminars. They also thrive in breakout sessions where students can work together to solve challenges.
- Diverging learning style: Divergers are the creatives who come up with solutions to challenges. Their perfect learning style is self-directed learning since it’s adaptable and puts them in control. They also favor learning approaches that allow them to apply what they’ve learned to real-world problems. Additionally, they are great subject matter experts.
- Assimilating learning style: Assimilators are logical thinkers who spend a lot of time watching and pondering. They prefer facts and logically sound theories to practical ways, and they believe facts back up everything they hear. Assimilators tend to absorb knowledge more efficiently when it’s written down.
Keen to embrace some other new learning habits? Read on to find out more about active learning.
3. Focus on creating active learning experiences
Active learning is the art of people teaching and learning from each other to construct their understanding of a topic. This is often through collaborative activities like group interactions and applied thinking.
Active learning is among the study habits that have been scientifically proven to increase a student’s engagement, comprehension, and information retention.
How significant is the impact of active learning?
Researchers at the University of Washington recently discovered that active learning could improve a student’s academic performance, while not doing so can impair a student’s chances of academic success.
Afterward, researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 225 existing studies that compared student performance in active learning to standard lecture classrooms, analyzing two types of data: exam performance and failure rates.
They came up with two conclusions based on their research:
- Active learning improves exam performance, resulting in a half-letter gain in average marks.
- Students in traditional lecture courses are 55 percent more likely to fail than students in active learning courses.
Therefore, actively participating in the learning process enables learners to pay better attention and absorb more knowledge.
What is it about active learning that makes such a difference?
The value of human interaction extends far beyond exam scores. It is critical for learner engagement.
Active learning is mostly about the student practicing what they are learning through human interaction. This collaboration and sharing of ideas among students fosters a higher level of thinking and provides value to the learner.
Some examples of online exercises that stimulate human contact include peer discussion, team problem solving, and group tutorials. They allow the learner to apply what they’ve learned while measuring their level of knowledge through peer validation and feedback.
Active learning is critical because human interaction develops improved motivation, confidence, and comprehension. Most importantly, it establishes human connection—a key cognitive function for learning.
The final study habit of highly successful learners is studying in chunks.
4. Learn in small digestible chunks.
George Miller of Harvard first introduced the term “chunking” when he discovered that if humans could chunk or mix particular pieces of information, they could store more data. In a learning context, chunking information makes it easier for learners to handle a larger bandwidth of knowledge through this study habit.
Cognitive loading is a related notion that builds on these mental limitations. According to Cognitive load theory, the amount of information and interactions that must be processed simultaneously can either under-load or overflow a person’s working memory.
If you’re overloaded, you’ll need to process all of the elements before you can continue studying. Ultimately, the more knowledge you must learn within a short amount of time, the more difficult it is to process.
This study habit proves that complex information delivered in small portions over time tends to be more easily absorbed, hence a more effective learning experience. Top tips for applying chunking include focusing on one thing at a time, building chunks based on existing knowledge, and making time to practice and repeat this habit. Be sure to take all these things into consideration to improve the way you learn.
Why you should embrace these highly effective study habits
Becoming a successful learner is all about your ability to retain new information that you can use to achieve self-improvement. These four study habits are key to making the most of your learning experiences, enabling you to reach your full potential.
Learning is a necessary component of life. It helps different groups of people to share knowledge, agree on mutual values, and understand one another better. Fostering these study habits will help you become a better learner, which in turn will keep you engaged, motivated, and happy.