RESOURCE: Quiz Yourself: How Good Are You at Teaching the Art of Learning?
By Benedict Carey, author of “How We Learn: The Surprising Truth about When, Where, and Why It Happens.”
Check out MindShift’s article about the book.
1) You have assigned students to write an essay on “How Neurons Communicate,” based on reading a book chapter, but you know many of them will squirm. They may try to focus, but find the material will not yield. What to advise them, if they get stuck?
A. Tough it out, nobody said this was easy.
B. Get out of the house, and take the book with you: to the coffee shop, the park, the library. Put on some music. Have at it.
C. Eliminate all distractions from your work space. Concentrate.
D. Quit for now, and come back to it later.
ANSWER: B. There’s a large body of research showing that changing “context” while you’re learning — and this includes location, time of day, mood, environment, even background music — deepens learning. It also allows you to put your restlessness to good use.
2) You have scheduled a Spanish test one week from today, and you’ve advised students to allot four hours to study. How best can they use that time?
A. Put in one concentrated, four-hour study session three days before the test.
B. Stay up late, cramming, the night before the exam so the material is fresh.
C. Study one hour a night for four consecutive nights in the coming week.
D. Do two hours tonight and two tomorrow night.
ANSWER: D. Distributing or “spacing” study time can double the amount of material we retain. For a test in a week, the ideal schedule is: tonight and tomorrow, or tonight and the day after tomorrow. The optimal interval depends on when the test is.