More Factors to Active Learning

The tasks: a factor that influences active learning.

Simply put, tasks are what your professors ask you to do. You can think of them as daily tasks, such as reading your text before you attend lectures; or larger tasks, such as preparing for various kinds of tests or writing papers. Most professors are pretty clear about what the task it. They will let you know the number of tests you will have and the kind of tests they will be. Some will even let you examine old copies of old tests or student papers so that you can see the kinds of questions they will ask or what their writing expectations are. Others will give you example test questions so that you can get an idea of how the questions will be asked.
But some professors aren’t so clear in defining course tasks. Some may even give you conflicting messages. Therefore, it is important to try to get your professor to be as clear as possible about the tasks you must undertake. If you don’t know what is expected of you, then you can’t select the proper learning strategies or the most effective way to approach your texts.

The texts: a factor that influences active learning.

Texts are crucial to learning in college. In fact, it has been estimated that 85 percent of all college learning involves reading. Whatever types of text you are expected to interact with, you should know how the particular text is organized. In most textbooks, each chapter is usually organized in the same fashion. In addition, your professor’s lectures probably follow the same organization each day. Even visual texts have organizational patterns. Once you have determined how your text is organized, learning the material becomes a much easier task.

Learning strategies: a factor that influences active learning.

Strategies for active learning have several features in common.

Strategy one: declarative knowledge.
Declarative knowledge is knowing what- what you need to do and what strategy you need to use.

Strategy two: procedural knowledge.
Procedural knowledge involves more than knowing what you should do. It is knowing how to do it.

Strategy three: conditional knowledge.
Conditional knowledge means knowing under what conditions to use certain strategies-knowing why.

Techniques to stretch your memory.
-acronyms. You can use mnemonics to learn a list by creating an acronym. This means taking the first letter of each item you are trying to memorize and making them spell something.
-imagery. Forming images is another powerful way to help you remember when you review.
-method of Loci. Imagine a place that is familiar to you. Then you walk down this path through your memory. As you proceed, you attach a piece of information you have to learn to different places and objects to help you remember it.

Excerpt from College Success Strategies by Sherrie L. Nist and Jodi Patrick Holschuh.

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