Six Principles of Learning

Some methods of learning are more effective than others. Therefore, to learn faster, we will want to use these more effective learning approaches as much as we can.

Active Recall

“Active recall is a principle of efficient learning, which claims the need to actively stimulate memory during the learning process.” – Wikipedia

Spaced Repetition

“Spaced repetition is a learning technique that incorporates increasing intervals of time between subsequent review of previously learned material in order to exploit the psychological spacing effect.” – Wikipedia

Forgetting Curve

“The forgetting curve hypothesizes the decline of memory retention in time.” – WikipediaE

Testing Effect

“The testing effect is the finding that long-term memory is often increased when some of the learning period is devoted to retrieving the to-be-remembered information.” – Wikipedia

Sleep and Learning

“Research indicates that sleep does more than allow the brain to rest. It may also aid the consolidation of long-term memories.” – Wikipedia

How to use the Principles

Clearly, using more of these methods is better than less. Let’s take the principles and run down them checklist-style, attempting to incorporate as many as possible into a pretend studying system. We’ll use Julie as an example.

Julie is simply awesome! She decided to be the best learner around and obtain the Salesforce Certified Administrator certification. She uses her learning principles checklist to make a plan.

  1. Active Recall – Julie decides she’ll make flashcards with an exam related term on the front and the definition on the back. When she studies, Julie tries to guess the definition using only the term on the front. Way to go Julie!
  2. Spaced Repetition – Julie knows she’ll need more than flashcards to pass the exam, but she still wants to practice her vocab. Julie decides she’ll practice vocab Monday and Tuesday, but on Wednesday she’ll do the Admin trail mix on Trailhead instead. On Thursday though, Julie will practice a little more vocab and then do some Trailhead. Julie is spacing out the time between her vocab practice! Great work!
  3. Forgetting Curve – Julie realizes the “forgetting curve” is just a fancy science way of saying “don’t wait too long to study stuff again”. By working in Spaced Repetition to her study plan, Julie nips the forgetting curve in the bud.
  4. Testing Effect – Julie has got her vocab and trailhead down. To help test herself before the exam, Julie finds questions on Quizlet similar to those that might be on the exam. By quizzing herself on material she is studying in an exam format, Julie feels like she understands it better. She incorporates Spaced Repetition into her Quizlet testing practice to be safe!
  5. Sleep and Learning – Lastly, Julie makes sure she gets 8 hours of sleep each night. She knows her brain is consolidating her learning as she sleeps and she doesn’t want to waste all the effort that went into studying by not getting a good night’s rest.

Julie reviews her plan and BAZAM she hit all five learning techniques! Nice. But wait… aren’t there six?

Bonus Principle: Adherence

“In medicine, compliance (also adherence, capacitance) describes the degree to which a patient correctly follows medical advice.” – Wikipedia

Julie grabs her list and adds the last principle.

6. Adherence – Julie knows her sweet looking plan isn’t worth anything if she doesn’t stick to it! Julie reviews her study plan and makes sure it fits in with her daily schedule, desire for free time away from work, and her other hobbies. Julie makes sure she is committed to studying, but not so over-the-top crazy-hyped-up committed that she’ll end up quitting.

With the first five principles taken care of, and Julie’s confirmation that she can stick to her plan, nothing can stop Julie from passing the Admin exam!

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