Friday, February 25, 2011

Learning That Sticks! The Real Way to Study, Learn and Remember What You Learn!

In the last 19 years I have traveled the U.S. teaching memory training to students of all ages in an effort to develop their true potential learning abilities. I have determined that there are two types of students in the broad spectrum of learning ability versus learning potential. For the sake of this article I will call them START students and STOP students. I should say S.T.A.R.T. and S.T.O.P. students. Let me explain what I mean by that. There a few people in this world that has self motivation, drive, desire and the need to excel. You know the one's that apply themselves to everything they do whether it be activities that involve work or just plain fun.

I have yet to meet a student that couldn't fit in one of those categories with the exception of the unfortunate soul, limited due to mental structure and capacity. Even many of those have excelled in their given situations. The students I am going to describe are those that putting their mind to it, could be more, have more, and do more by just applying the tools available to them The same tools that I am going to describe to you in this article. So when I say the S.T.A.R.T. student I mean the "Students That Are Really Trying" the S.T.A.R.T. student. When I say the S.T.O.P. students I am referring to the, "Students That Often Procrastinate", yes the real S.T.O.P. students.

So let me explain the difference a START student is the student that constantly strives to do his or her best. You know the student that goes the extra mile to make their best grade on everything the touch. The students when meeting challenges they always look for ways of improving their grades and then doing it when they find it. Students researching ways to make learning stick and then doing what it takes. They sometimes spend countless hours studying to know the material the best they can and plan for surprises. They are students that know their own limitations when it comes to learning new material. The boy, girl, man or woman students that searches for new strategies to make their efforts count and then use those same strategies.

Now let me explain my next student or the STOP student. STOP students always look for the shortcut or the easiest way to get by, not necessarily by the skin of their teeth but making at least a passing grade. This student tends to procrastinate and barely meet the deadline for their academic efforts. They may be students that could do more, be more and have more but they choose for whatever reason to do less, have less, and be less. Procrastination is a terrible time waster that brings many failures or less than desirable results.

To be a student that continues to learn the whole journey of their life requires doing a simple set of certain things to make sure that their efforts are always rewarded. It's what I call having the winning edge when it comes to Making Learning Stick. Some simple tools that successful people use to make life more rewarding when it comes to learning will be folded into this article and tools that easily attained by everyone that wants to be a START student.

The first thing that a student needs is the will to achieve. I.Q. or intelligent quotient is a number that measures the results of a test of your intelligence. Stick-to-itiveness is a trait that a START student has internally and approaches learning in a positive attitude way. Start students see problems as opportunities and ways to learn a new path to fulfill their goals. Goals will play a big part in this article and be something that you will need to use in all walks of your journey. When learning is approached positively it will only result in positive results if you have a positive attitude. I strongly believe that your attitude not your aptitude determines your platitude. I call this have the winning edge or winners' advantage.

I will spell out the components you will use and give you an explanation as briefly as I can as how I see your steps to becoming a START student for the rest of your life if you so choose.


1-Make learning a game.
2-Plan your study and study your plan.
3-Set Goals.
4-Track Results
5-Make Adjustments
6-Review results for future improvements.

Each component has individual steps and I will cover a few in each to give you a picture of How Making Learning Stick will work to make you a START student and not a STOP student.

Make learning a game works more than you can imagine, because the brain can learn more through building memory by making it novel and not just plain as it may appear as a subject. The plasticity of the brain allows us the ability to learn for our entire life not just in our early thought to be learning years in school. It was thought that our cognitive decline was age related wrongly unfortunately so many put learning on the back burner when they reached elderly status. The quote by Dostoevsky "that mans second half of his life is spent doing habits learned in the first half", has been played out to long. (To paraphrase the quote) I must tell you that I feel have learned more in the first nine years of my latter half than I feel I learned in the first 50 though I know that's not true it feels that way. This is because I learned how the mind really learns and remembers.

That is why I say make learning a game that's fun! It will last your whole life!

The second component is very important. Plan your study and study your plan it is something I have observed more in the past 19 years of teaching Mnemonics as a training psychologist in the industrial and business climate, than any of the other components. I had a good friend that was Valedictorian in my class and I always wished that I could have been as smart as he was. You see little did I know that I had the intelligence I just didn't have the know how. You see most of the students I meet that are STOP students are limited only by the limitations in their own minds and I have had a passion for potential to change the ones I can. I always thought that the Peter Principle was a mistake.

The planning process is one of the most underutilized components in all success. I am not saying that spontaneity or starting with no end in mind doesn't work, what I am saying is that planning your study and studying your plan is more predictable. When doing this you are in control of the adjustments and priorities. System analysis is the result of such works. This one component is a lead in to most important part of studying and that is setting goals.

Goal planning is important to achieve the results you desire, you may still achieve results but those that come as a result of goal planning hold a different set of properties. Goal planning allows for priority setting and priority adjustment. Goals are not only the end of the steps to achievement; the steps are the most important learning processes we walk away with. Sometimes it takes the final successes to understand that particular point. I will tell you the best goal planning includes these key points: Is it achievable Is it believable Is it measurable and can you set deadlines. In conclusion is the simple ABMD method.

The component that involves tracking your results involves reviewing your results to look for potential adjustments, modifications or total alleviation. Learning comes from change in your mind at looking for at or within the coded data in your mind. The way we learn is to take data in and hopefully with the proper construction or reconstruction of existing knowledge to form a new data acquisition resulting in learning. Making it learning that sticks is entirely dependent on the way that you construct, reconstruct or lay down the new memory trace. That's really where the making learning a game comes in to play. Excuse the pun. I have folded the next component into this paragraph unintentionally but I will approach it now.

Making adjustments will come in two forms one being a new construction of knowledge or reconstruction of the existing knowledge or both. Memory traces are formed as understood now by two brain cells or neurons forming together by firing an electrical and chemical reaction called a an action potential or synapse. I use this integrative biological term only to let you know that learning is now understood at new levels. It use to be thought that memory was a structure in our mind but now the understanding is that memory is not a structure but a process of many structures pulled together by a part of our brain called the hippocampus.

I recently attended a brain symposium at the brain health center in Dallas where the father of cognitive science Michael Gazzaniga of the university of California Santa Barber was awarded the 1st Charles Branch award in Dallas that day. After Dr. Gazzaniga accepted the award he made a presentation about the brain and the law that explained why he is called The Father Of Cognitive Science and the major researcher in split brain studies. The current research in the plasticity of the brain and its function will bring further understanding of why lifelong learning is the basis for new methods of learning.

This leads me to the final component of reviewing results for future improvements. The review of your final results will show you the true paths that lead to your achievement and allow you to learn where the adjustments or modifications for future learning will be required. We learn every day how our mind learns and still have a lot to learn. The shortcuts we learn are due to new research and our ability to improve our learning methods will give us the ability to create more START students and fewer STOP students.

We have developed a Successful Student System to give the aspiring student the tools necessary to improve learning and get the better results for the time invested in learning. We continue to develop such tools through experiential training and insure that you use methods that create Learning That Sticks. Researches in how memories are created are being unfolded at universities like U T and U of H proving that the proteins such as Protein Kinase C (PKC) and Transforming Formation Growth Factor B (TFG-B) are instrumental in our learning process. MTI continues to bring such research findings and interpretation of into how we can learn to be better developed through our experiential learning styles.

We have developed principles for Power note taking, Goal Setting, Project management, Developing a Winning attitude, Successful study skills, and Test taking techniques to enable the aspiring student to do more, have more and be more for the rest of their learning life. These skills with the aforementioned components will help make START students in the future.

A famous researcher of memory stated it best when explaining, "Memory is not the re-exercitation of enumerable fixed lifeless fragmentary pieces, but an imaginative reconstruction or construction built out of the relationship of our attitude, toward the whole active mass, organized by past reactions of experience. And to a little outstanding detail, that which commonly appears in image or language form thus hardly ever really exact, even in the most rudimentary cases of rote recapitulation and it is not at all important that it should be so."

Students have the ability to be the best they can be with the proper studying and learning tools. Mnemonics are playing an important part of that process. Developing our brain to be the best it can be is a goal we must all strive to achieve.

Our brain is the only organ encased in a hard boney case to protect it from traumatic exposure. That very fact is thrust to the forefront of my understanding when watching the senseless sport of cage fighting and trying to fathom how it can be allowed, let alone entertaining to the observer of such a so called sport.

So students protect and feed your brain constantly and it will be the best back up for you in all of your life short of God's grace.

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