There are times when I have found it difficult to learn as I've felt I'm having difficulty absorbing the information I'm trying to learn. Ideally I want to learn quickly and be able to retain the information for longer.
Overcome difficulty absorbing information? The difficulty in absorbing and retaining information can be improved by adopting learning techniques including writing by hand, visualization through using images, personalizing by relating to information, doing physical exercise, using the SQ3R method to using mnemonic techniques.
Here are some tips on how to overcome difficulties in absorbing information and help develop a more retentive memory.
Writing by hand is more efficient for retaining information. Even if you type faster than you write, it is better to leave the tablet or notebook aside and pick up the pen when taking notes in classes, meetings or lectures.
This suggestion is made by two scientists, Pam Mueller, from Princeton, and Daniel Oppenheimer from the University of California, authors of a study published by the journal Psychological Science called "The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking".
They found that writing by hand is far more efficient for memorization than typing. According to their study, whoever wrote, instead of typing, was better when it came to testing information retention from memory than colleagues who did the reverse, that is those who used their laptops for note taking.
When we write we activate the sensory and motor memory parts of our brains that record the actual movements made by our hands. The whole process of writing involves us entering a state of concentration like mindfulness, that is, the act of writing by itself already helps to keep the mind more focused.
It's this focus which enhances the memorization even more. When you process and select what goes on paper, you end up stimulating the brain, leading to writing making us smarter.
The brain associates words with images. If you relate the content you are studying to something out of the ordinary, the chances of memorizing the content are greater. A key part of remembering a memory is to exercise the ability to represent in our minds what we are interested in retaining, this is known as visualization.
To work on creating images, the first thing to do is to start with simple images, like a cat or a dog, ideally images that come to mind with ease. The important thing is that you imagine the chosen image with all kinds of details. By being able to express colours, shapes and even sounds, smells and even flavours enhance the overall memory.
So, trying to memorise state capitals could involve visualising a cat dressed in 15th century regalia on a ship approaching land, with the cat speaking ‘I have discovered America'. This could be used to signify Christopher Columbus discovering the Americas and be used for remembering the state capital of Ohio is Columbus.
The visualisation process can be taken further by involving emotions such as happiness, anger, worry to sadness. These can be associated with the images to preserve the memory further, so with the example above, the cat could be seen as being very proud and happy at making the discovery.
Relating the content studied to something that has a direct personal connection with you also helps to memorize and overcome difficulty in absorbing information. Try to find points in common between the study material and your life.
The association will allow you to remember dates, names or actions, since relating data or relevant information that is more difficult for you to remember with similar words or personal experiences will help you to memorize.
When studying, it is important that your mind is willing to absorb all the information you give it, but it is also essential that you have a positive attitude and a willingness to learn and feel an interest in what you are doing.
There's little benefit in being anxious, angry or sad and trying to learn at the same time, as this will defeat the purpose of any studying done, leading to lower information retention.
A run or walk at the beginning or middle of a study routine improves your ability to memorize considerably. By allowing greater oxygenation of the brain, physical activities enhance cognitive functions, including information retention.
In addition, exercise promotes greater circulation of hormones that increase well-being and memories become stronger when associated with emotional states.
The SQ3R method, which comes from the acronym in English Survey (examine), Question (ask), and the three R's: Read, Repeat and Review can help memorise information.
To actively try to remember information, we first survey the information, breaking it down into what we need to remember, so in the following piece of information:
"The Louisiana Purchase was a treaty signed to give the United States control over lands France owned. The treaty was signed in 1803. France had acquired the territory from Spain in 1800 after ceding the territory in 1762 to Spain from controlling it since 1609.
France in effect really only had control over a small part of this territory, as these lands were inhabited by indigenous peoples. The United States later either signed further treaties with the indigenous people or under the banner of conquest took over their lands. In total the United States acquired 828,000 square miles of territory for $15,000,000 equating to around $18 per square mile."
Trying to remember all this information will result in trying to remember information, which is not relevant, so for an exam, the only information needed to be remembered is:
So, using the SQR3 method:
The relevant information is only "Louisiana Purchase 1803 United States France 828,000 square miles $15,000,000".
The next step is to break the information surveyed into meaningful questions:
The relevant answers are now added to the questions:
The combined questions and answers are now repeated for the memory to build:
In the review part of this method, by asking the questions below, the answers should come to mind:
This method stimulates the memory by probing and complementing the mere reading of the text. This codification of what you want to remember is reinforced by understanding and repeating concepts.
With the mind trying to recover the stored information through the daily exercise of questioning and remembering, stimulating long-term memory.
Sometimes we trust that some data or clue from a question on an exam that activates a memory giving us the correct answer. Although this is how memory recollection works in principle, through a stimulus required to activate a certain memory.
This process is weak and unreliable mechanism, especially during tests, especially if the tests are restricted by time. A better method is required to make it easier to learn and retain information and this is where the SQ3R method works well.
Trying to memorize complete texts is a very complicated task, unless you have a photographic memory. Therefore, to store long-term information, it is recommended to separate the facts from the concepts.
The facts are those small amounts of data that can escape our memory as formulas or names of characters. To store this type of information, it's best to use the so-called mnemonic techniques.
The concepts are all parts of the content requiring an understanding, such as the theme of a book, the relevance of a historical event, the function of formulas; that is, the reasons why we need to study this information in the first place.
For a better understanding and retention of concepts, you should extract the main ideas and then expand the concepts in your own words. To focus your efforts, it is suggested to explain the concepts as if you were the teacher, teaching someone the subject you are studying. By doing this way you will improve the productivity of study sessions by optimising your memory with relevant information.
Getting your brain to retain what you want to study and to eliminate every form of difficulties in absorbing information can be much easier with these tips. In fact, you only need to apply them for a little while to see results in just a few days of study.
It's important to note, some medical conditions can make it difficult to absorb information and these should be discussed with a suitably qualified health professional like a physician.
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