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Course Objectives

By the end of the course, we expect you to be able to do the following:

Explain the difference between focused and diffuse modes of thinking.

Explain what a chunk is, and how and why you can and should enhance your chunking skills.

Explain how working memory and long term memory differ from one another.

Describe key techniques to help students learn most efficiently such as: pomodoro, metaphor,
story, visualization, deliberate practice, and interleaving.

Describe actions that hinder students from learning most effectively such as procrastination,
over-learning, Einstellung, choking, multi-tasking, illusions of learning, and lack of sleep.

Describe the most important aspects of proper test preparation.

Explain the importance of mindset in learning.



10 Rules of Good and Bad Studying

These rules form a synthesis of some of the main ideas of the course.

10 Rules of Good Studying

Excerpted from A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel in Math and Science (Even if You Flunked
Algebra), by Barbara Oakley, Penguin, July, 2014
1. Use recall. After you read a page, look away and recall the main ideas. Highlight very little,
and never highlight anything you havent put in your mind first by recalling. Try recalling main
ideas when you are walking to class or in a different room from where you originally learned
it. An ability to recallto generate the ideas from inside yourselfis one of the key indicators
of good learning.
2. Test yourself. On everything. All the time. Flash cards are your friend.
3. Chunk your problems. Chunking is understanding and practicing with a problem solution so
that it can all come to mind in a flash. After you solve a problem, rehearse it. Make sure you
can solve it coldevery step. Pretend its a song and learn to play it over and over again in
your mind, so the information combines into one smooth chunk you can pull up whenever you
4. Space your repetition. Spread out your learning in any subject a little every day, just like an
athlete. Your brain is like a muscleit can handle only a limited amount of exercise on one
subject at a time.
5. Alternate different problem-solving techniques during your practice. Never practice too
long at any one session using only one problem-solving techniqueafter a while, you are just
mimicking what you did on the previous problem. Mix it up and work on different types of
problems. This teaches you both how and when to use a technique. (Books generally are not
set up this way, so youll need to do this on your own.) After every assignment and test, go
over your errors, make sure you understand why you made them, and then rework your
solutions. To study most effectively, handwrite (dont type) a problem on one side of a flash
card and the solution on the other. (Handwriting builds stronger neural structures in memory
than typing.) You might also photograph the card if you want to load it into a study app on
your smartphone. Quiz yourself randomly on different types of problems. Another way to do
this is to randomly flip through your book, pick out a problem, and see whether you can solve
it cold.
6. Take breaks. It is common to be unable to solve problems or figure out concepts in math or
science the first time you encounter them. This is why a little study every day is much better

than a lot of studying all at once. When you get frustrated with a math or science problem,
take a break so that another part of your mind can take over and work in the background.
7. Use explanatory questioning and simple analogies. Whenever you are struggling with a
concept, think to yourself, How can I explain this so that a ten-year-old could understand it?
Using an analogy really helps, like saying that the flow of electricity is like the flow of water.
Dont just think your explanationsay it out loud or put it in writing. The additional effort of
speaking and writing allows you to more deeply encode (that is, convert into neural memory
structures) what you are learning.
8. Focus. Turn off all interrupting beeps and alarms on your phone and computer, and then turn
on a timer for twenty-five minutes. Focus intently for those twenty-five minutes and try to work
as diligently as you can. After the timer goes off, give yourself a small, fun reward. A few of
these sessions in a day can really move your studies forward. Try to set up times and places
where studyingnot glancing at your computer or phoneis just something you naturally do.
9. Eat your frogs first. Do the hardest thing earliest in the day, when you are fresh.
10. Make a mental contrast. Imagine where youve come from and contrast that with the dream
of where your studies will take you. Post a picture or words in your workspace to remind you
of your dream. Look at that when you find your motivation lagging. This work will pay off both
for you and those you love!

10 Rules of Bad Studying

Excerpted from A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel in Math and Science (Even if You Flunked
Algebra), by Barbara Oakley, Penguin, July, 2014
Avoid these techniquesthey can waste your time even while they fool you into thinking youre
1. Passive rereadingsitting passively and running your eyes back over a page. Unless you
can prove that the material is moving into your brain by recalling the main ideas without
looking at the page, rereading is a waste of time.
2. Letting highlights overwhelm you. Highlighting your text can fool your mind into thinking
you are putting something in your brain, when all youre really doing is moving your hand. A
little highlighting here and there is okaysometimes it can be helpful in flagging important
points. But if you are using highlighting as a memory tool, make sure that what you mark is
also going into your brain.

3. Merely glancing at a problems solution and thinking you know how to do it. This is one
of the worst errors students make while studying. You need to be able to solve a problem
step-by-step, without looking at the solution.
4. Waiting until the last minute to study. Would you cram at the last minute if you were
practicing for a track meet? Your brain is like a muscleit can handle only a limited amount
of exercise on one subject at a time.
5. Repeatedly solving problems of the same type that you already know how to solve. If
you just sit around solving similar problems during your practice, youre not actually preparing
for a testits like preparing for a big basketball game by just practicing your dribbling.
6. Letting study sessions with friends turn into chat sessions. Checking your problem
solving with friends, and quizzing one another on what you know, can make learning more
enjoyable, expose flaws in your thinking, and deepen your learning. But if your joint study
sessions turn to fun before the work is done, youre wasting your time and should find another
study group.
7. Neglecting to read the textbook before you start working problems. Would you dive into
a pool before you knew how to swim? The textbook is your swimming instructorit guides
you toward the answers. You will flounder and waste your time if you dont bother to read it.
Before you begin to read, however, take a quick glance over the chapter or section to get a
sense of what its about.
8. Not checking with your instructors or classmates to clear up points of
confusion. Professors are used to lost students coming in for guidanceits our job to help
you. The students we worry about are the ones who dont come in. Dont be one of those
9. Thinking you can learn deeply when you are being constantly distracted. Every tiny pull
toward an instant message or conversation means you have less brain power to devote to
learning. Every tug of interrupted attention pulls out tiny neural roots before they can grow.
10. Not getting enough sleep. Your brain pieces together problem-solving techniques when you
sleep, and it also practices and repeats whatever you put in mind before you go to sleep.
Prolonged fatigue allows toxins to build up in the brain that disrupt the neural connections you
need to think quickly and well. If you dont get a good sleep before a test, NOTHING ELSE

Good pages!

There are 4 modules: Divided into 4 weeks:


What is learning? 20%

Chunking 20%
Procrastination and memory 20%
Renaissance Learning and Unlocking Your Potential: 40%

Ideas to remember:

Sleeping helps the brain to eliminate toxins.

The pomodoro technique: Reduces procrastination; Helps to focus on a subject; Increases
productivity; Increases interest in the work. Work periods of 25 Minutes and 5 of rest.
Human memory: Short or work memory: Important to concentrate in order to retain in short
memory. Practice a lot to transfer to Long memory.

Interview with Writin Coach Pahne Gray-Grant:
Make outlines the brain activates: Needed the difuse thinking to create new networks

Benny Lewis: About learning languages.

Passion about language and culture True motivation
Children are OK with making mistakes Learn from the way of being of kids

Readings: First 3 chapters

Chapter 1: It is possible to make it
Chapter 2: This is about, FOCUS and DIFUSSE mode of thinkin. Example of paintball game. Frontal
cortex. Einstellung effect: False effect of learning.
Focus mode of thinking: Is related to prefrontal cortex
when I am concentrated.

and is responsible for thinking

Diffuse mode of thinking: Important to gain different perspectives of a problem, It helps to build
knowledge when I am not learning using Focuse mode of thinking.
Thinking to much may sometimes impede to me find the solution of a problem but diffuse mode
can help finding it because its networks in the brain are much broader.
Einstellung effect: Thinking about solving a problem with a wrong Idea. Difficult to change that
perspective and solve the problem.
LEFT SIDE : associated with logical thinking. RiGHT SIDE: Emotions, interaction with other people.

Chapter 3: Creativiy is helped with diffuse mode. Writers, inventors, painters etc
Use both modes of learning Diffuse and focused
Master the material, dont move faster that I can.
When learning use diffuse mode to strength enough knowledge, but dont let much time happen
cause I could forget (difusse mode should be very diffuse jiji)
Working memory VS Long term memory
Working memory is related with the things we are acuatually working on. It can hold up to 4
pieces of information or grouping that information in chunks so it actually can be bigger than it
seems. It is important to concentrate and retain that information otherwise the brain will naturally
spread them out. This working memory is a subset of short-term memory.
Long term-memory: It can storage information for long periods of time. It needs to be
rehearsealed a couple of times to increase the probability to dont forget it. It is important to
practice spaced repetition to memorize sutuffs at long term.

Use the focused mode to first start grappling with concepts and problems
in math and science.
After youve done your first hard focused work, allow the diffuse mode
to take over. Relax and do something different!
When frustration arises, its time to switch your attention to allow the
diffuse mode to begin working in the background.

Its best to work at math and science in small dosesa little every day.
This gives both the focused and diffuse modes the time they need to do
their thing so you can understand what you are learning. Thats how
solid neural structures are built.
Ifprocrastination is an issue, try setting a timer for twenty-five minutes
and focusing intently on your task without allowing yourselfto be drawn
aside by text messages, web surfing, or other attractive distractions.
There are two major memory systems: Working memorylike a juggler
who can keep only four items in the air.
Long-term memorylike a storage warehouse that can hold large
amounts of material, but needs to be revisited occasionally to keep the
memories accessible.
Spaced repetition helps move items from working memory to long-term
Sleep is a critical part ofthe learning process. It helps you: Make the
neural connections needed for normal thinking processeswhich is why
sleep the night before a test is so important.
Figure out tough problems and find meaning in what you are learning.
Strengthen and rehearse the important parts ofwhat you are learning and
prune away trivialities.

Chunks to learn better.
Illusion of learning
Overlearning challenges
Interleaving advantages

Lesson: ChunkingThe


Chunks: Introduction to chunks!

Chunkin, illusion of learning, overlearning .

2. What is chunk?
Mental process of giving meaning to things we learn in a context. To make them ease to learn. To
create stronger patterns of learning.
3. How to make a chunk? Part 1.
Build a big chink by joining many littler chunks. To make complex ideas or works in a single chunks.
Apply to many things like music and language. Important to leanr little chunks and connections
between them.
4. How to make a chunk? Part 2. (steps to create a chunk)
Learning Is different in every discipline. Mental or physical.
First: Focus on what I learn for the first time. Second: Understand the concept I am learning. Third:
After getting the concept the next step is to master it. Fourth: Context, not only how but when to
use it. Fifth: Use concept maps, flow charts, outlines to unite all the chunks.

of concept

Practice and

5. Illusions of competence:
Practice and recall are the fastest way to learn
Recall and practice before making concept maps.
Chunking can reduce space memory used in working memory.
Understanding a solution is not a guarantee to learn.

Outline, concept
map, flow charts

Highlighting : Just basic concepts or works. It is better to recall and understand!

Make Autotest (that is recalling) Mistakes are good to learn.
Recall in a different place of study. To become independent of places where we learn.

1, What motivates you?

Acetylcholine: Focused learning, synaptic plasticity
Dopamine: Motivation. Unexpected reward. Also affects decision making. Adoptive drugs active
dopamine. Part of unconceous part of the brain,
Serotonin: Affects social life. Risk taking behavior
Emotions affects learning as well

2, The value of a library of chunks

Chunks help to learn trough TRANSFER PROCESS Diffuse mode of thinking helps focused mode
to link different chunks.

3, Overlearning, Choking, Einstellung, Interleaving.

Overlearning: Produce automaticity when we execute piano concerto :D . Helps in a speaking
reduce nervousness . If everything seem so easy it could lead to ILLUSION OF LEARNING.
Delibarate practice in most difficult material.
Einstellung Prevent as to find different and betters solutions to a problem
INTERLEAVING When learning something mix activities to learn more easy. Interleaving studies
is extraordinary to build creativity and flexibility. DEVELOPS different conections between chunks.

4. Summary:
Chunks: Neuron pathways saving concepts. FOCUSE , UNDERSTAND . PRACICE AND MASTER.

DELIBERATE PRACTICE: FOcuse attention in more difficult problems!!

RECALL: Always do it!! TO avoid Illusion of learning
ILLusion of learning TEST MYSELF RECALLING Not to Highlight a lot, only pretty basic
concepts. Mistakes are good: Donde when practicing.
EINSTELLUNG: When a though prevent as to find a different solution.
Law of serendipity: Try a lot!

DOODLING is good to learn!!! SOMETHING NEW!!!
Multitasking damages the brain!!!


Week 3