Man is so built that he always needs results. Preferably, fast. In studies, sports, at work you always visualize a beautiful ending: here you lost 20 pounds and play with muscles on the beach, here you are the guru of gambling who plays at a casino perfectly, here you finish the project and the boss gives you a yearly bonus. Uh-huh, no such luck.
Let’s put fantasies aside and enlist the help of science, that is, let’s use effective techniques that will help us somehow speed up and see our progress. Because motivation is also a tricky thing. Without positive reinforcement, it quickly fades away. In other words, there will be no results, and you will be deflated.
How to Better Absorb New Information
The Inner Skeptic
Scientists from Columbia University (USA) not so long ago published the results of a study in the journal Psychological Science.
Specialists studied the impact of a critical approach to evaluating information on the ability to perceive and remember data. The critical approach is like arguing with your “inner skeptic,” who is not satisfied with your arguments and who questions everything you say.
The Study Was Conducted Like This
60 students were given introductory data. This was information about the “mayoral election in city X”: the candidates’ political programs and a description of the city’s problems. The control group was asked to write an essay about the merits of each of the candidates, and the experimental group was asked to describe the dialogue between the participants in the political show who discuss the candidates. Both groups (control and experimental) were then asked to write a script for a television appearance in favor of their favorite candidate.
What They Did
In the final script, the experimental group provided more facts, used more precise wording, and demonstrated a better understanding of the material. In the text for the TV spot, students in the experimental group demonstrated differences between the candidates and their programs and provided more information about how the candidate they liked was going to solve the city’s problems. Moreover, the experimental group expressed their ideas more accurately: among all students in the experimental group, only 20% cited statements in the final script of the TV spot that were not supported by facts. In the control group, 60% of the students made such statements.
Elaborating on critical opinions about an issue contributes to a more thorough examination of the issue. This approach affects the way you perceive information – the “inner dialogue with the critic” allows you not just to take knowledge on faith. You begin to look for alternatives, give examples and evidence – and so you dig deeper into the issue and remember more useful details.
How to Use
Before you even hand your homework to the teacher, fake an argument with him or her. Do some role-playing dialogues: pretend that the teacher doesn’t like the work. What does he say? How do you respond? Imagine a whole forum of “commentators” – what do they pay attention to? How do they criticize you? Respond to each one, destroy it, smear it. Your objections are a workout of your confidence and (importantly) an excuse to repeat weaknesses.
The forgetting curve is a term coined by Hermann Ebbinghaus. He studied mechanical memory and derived patterns between time since data, number of repetitions, and the percentage of information that is eventually retained in memory.Roughly speaking, you are now concerned that everything you learn stays with you longer, rather than being weathered out of your head instantly.
How to Use
Regarding the course you’re taking, it’s like this: right after class, you have a certain amount of knowledge – let’s call that amount 100%.
If the next day, you don’t go back to the notes – by the end of the day your memory will remain 20-50% of the total volume that you memorized. After a month you will be able to remember only 2-3% of the information.