What are the best study skills? Top study habits do make a difference. Educators and professionals who teach study techniques have long advocated conventional ways to study, such as find a quiet place with no distractions; keep your workplace uncluttered; and work on one subject at a time. There is evidence to suggest these old ways may not be working as well as they could.

Each child learns differently, and sometimes it is difficult to get your child to buckle down and do homework. Experts are against bribery, and arguing with the child certainly does not foster the incentive to retain what they have studied, even if they sit still long enough to complete the task.

Perhaps a change of scenery, or a little diversity in their studying techniques will help to improve their memory retention.

One way to accomplish this is to vary the study locations. Instead of sticking to one study location, simply alternate the room where a person studies. “The brain makes subtle associations between what it is studying and the background sensations it has at the time, says Robert A. Bjork, a psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, author of the study. “Regardless of whether those perceptions are conscious…Forcing the brain to make multiple associations with the same material may, in effect, give that information more neural scaffolding.”

“What we think is happening here is that, when the outside context is varied, the information is enriched, and this slows down forgetting,” says Bjork.

Another way to improve study retention is to alternate the type of material studied in a single sitting  – perhaps studying some vocabulary and then reading, and then a foreign language instead of one subject at a time. This seems to leave a deeper impression on the brain than does concentrating on just one skill at a time. This lesson is something musicians have known for a long time, and is why they vary their practice sessions with a combination of musical pieces and rhythmic work. Athletes also build up their all-around body strength by alternating their training for different areas of their bodies during the same session.

Our brains work much the same way as the musicians and the athletes. By diversifying the areas your brain is working on you are strengthening it all around. This allows for deeper impressions to be made and memory to last longer than the length of one session.

“We have known these principles for some time, and it’s intriguing that schools don’t pick them up, or that people don’t learn them by trial and error,” says Bjork. “Instead, we walk around with all sorts of unexamined beliefs about what works that are mistaken.”

This is Ron White, and I am a two-time USA Memory Champion and I trust you gained from this article on study skills.



New York Times – Forget What You Know About Good Study Habits, published September 6, 2010: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/07/health/views/07mind.html?pagewanted=all