Coursera - Learning to Learn

Course Objectives -
- Focused & Diffuse Thinking
- Chunking
- Working Memory vs Long-Term Memory
- Key Techniques
- Learning Hindrances
- Most important part of test preparation
- "Mindset" in Learning
Key Techniques to Learning
- Pomodoro
- Metaphor
- Story
- Visualization
- Deliberate Practice
- Interleaving
Learning Hinderances
- Procrastination
- Over-Learning
- Einstellung
- Choking
- Multi-tasking
- Illusions of competence
- Lack of Sleep
Focused Learning
- Focus Hard then release (use both focus and diffuse)
Diffuse Learning
- Relaxed resting state allowing brain to connect diverse connections
- Relationship of new idea with something old
How to Learn
- Bounce between focuses and diffuse
- Work stresses brain in regard to pain but as people start discomfort goes away
Makes connection permanent
Working Memory
Essentially 4 chunks of data in pre-frontal cortex. Repitition required
Long-Term Memory
Warehouse of Info, room for billions of memories
Best way to Memorize
Spaced repetition over a few days
Sleep Benefits
- Removes Toxins, tides up ideas & memories, rehearses tough things, creates diffuse mode, can focus before sleep to get more effectiveness
Diffuse mode, grows hippocampus neurons
4 aspects of most-effective learning
1. Practice tests requiring recall
2. Flash cards
3. Multi-Session Learning
4. Interleaved Practice
is the mental leap that helps you knit bits of information together through meaning.
"Octopus of Attention"
A metaphor involving an octopus slipping it's tentacles through your working memory slots and making connections throughout your brain with what you already know. (in FOCUSED mode)
Memory Traces
Familiar mental loop in which neurons fire and are wired in memory.
How are chunks created?
- Focus
- Understanding
- Practices
First Step in Chunking
Focus your undivided attention on the material you want to chunk.
What is the second step in forming a chunk?
Understand the basic idea of what you're trying to learn. Synthesize the main ideas.
What is step 3 in forming a chunk?
Gain context to learn now just HOW but also WHEN to use that chunk, and also when NOT to.
What role does PRACTICE play?
Practice helps broaden networks of neurons connected to the chunk, making it firm and accessible.
Learning takes places which 2 ways?
Top down (big picture) and bottom up. (chunking)
bottom up learning
Practice and repetition help you build and strengthen each chunk for ease of access whenever material is needed.
top down learning
You can see what your learning and where it fits into the big picture.
where top down and bottom up learning meet.
Illusion of competence
When a book or google is in front of you
Recall is more effective than both
Rereading and passive reading.
Mental retrieval of ideas.
Highlighting and underlining
Should be done sparingly; at most one or two highlights per paragraph. It makes you think you are learning.
Maximum amount of highlighting should be
No more than one sentence or less per paragraph.
An effective alternative to highlighting
Words and notes in a margin that synthesize key ideas.
Allows you to make repairs in your thinking flaws and help correct thinking for better learning.
Mistakes made in self-testing.
Recalling material in various physical locations
Makes you independent of your enviornent.
Help long term memory and unconscious mind
Controls our motivation, reward learning, released with unexpected reward, impacts decision making, addictive drugs
Relationships and Risk Taking Behavior, low serotonin = risk taking
Regulates emotional reactions in brain, lymbic system
Connecting ideas across diverse fields; Diffuse mode transfers chunks
Solving Problems
Sequential, Holistic
Step by Step Reasoning
Holistic (Global)
Diffuse Mode, Intuitive Reasoning
Waste of Valuable Time, Also brings an illusion of competence,
When stressed, overlearning can help overcome
A known solution may prevent you from finding a new or better solution "Mindset", you are stuck in a rut
Practicing back and forth between different approaches or different types of solutions, mix up learning, know how and when to use material, builds flexibility and creativity, which allows transfer of chunks
Paradigm Shift
Thomas Kuhn says revolutions occur with new people or diverse fields
Deliberate Practice
Focus on subjects that are difficult, science progresses one funeral at a time
Why do we procrastinate
1. Unhappy feeling with the task
2. Funnel attention onto a more pleasant task
3. Feel happy
4 Aspects of a Habit
1. The cue
2. The routine
3. The reward
4. The belief
Some good Procrastination Tools
1. Put items into Daily, Weekly Plans (To-Do Lists)
2. Prioritize
3. Do important and hard things first in the energetic time period.
3. Focus on process (25 mins)
4. Have rewards
5. Have finish time!
Anti-procrastination Strategy
- Keep a planner journal
- Commit yourself to certain routines and tasks each day
- Delay rewards until you finish the task
- Watch for procrastination cues
- Gain trust in your new system
- Have backup plans for when you still procrastinate
- Eat your frogs first
Memory Tools
- We are good at visual memory. Associate to-be-remembered things with images.
- Repetition & Feedback, make short-term memories to long-term ones.
- Hand writing, hand drawing
- Use flashcard program like Anki
Some Memory Tools
Meaningful Association, Memory Palace - Use initials to form a meaningful word
- Use image to associate a concept
- Use a palace (or home) to hold multiple memory items.
Creating bigger more firmly engrained chunks is done through
A library of concept and solutions
A collection of neural patterns.
When trying to figure something out a library of chunks makes it easier
to find the right solution by listening to whispers from the diffused mode which can help link two or more chunks together in a new way to solve a problem.
A library of chunks without practice
Will remain faint and give you difficulty when looking for the big picture.
The random connections made by the diffused mode should be
Carefully checked using the focused mode.
Intuitive insights
Are not always correct.
The Law of Serendipity
Lady luck favors the one who tries.
Unnecessary repetition of information after mastery in the same study session.
A result of overlearning that can have value in certain cases
Returning to the material in a subsequent study session
Is a tactic much more helpful than overlearning.
A method of study where you incorporate assorted problem solving strategy into your learning and alternate back and forth between them at random.
Developing knowledge in various fields is positive because
You can bring new ideas from one field into the other.
1. Is one of the best ways to help the chunking process along.
2. Is simply trying to remember key points without looking.
3.Metaphorically speaking it creates mental "hooks" that you can "hang" your information on.
4. Should be attempted in various physical locations for a more deeply engrained, accessible concepts regardless of location. (helpful during testing.)
Transfer refers to
An idea that a chunk you've mastered in one area can often help you learn chunks in a different area that shares surprising commonalities. For example language -----> computer programming.
Illusions of Competence
1. Recall - After you read the material, look away and see if you can recall any of the information. Practice & Recall is much faster. Retrieval process creates neural hooks for chunking. You must embed chunks prior to working concepts. Rereading doesn't help really. Information must persist in memory. Highlighting & Underlining can be misleading and not always effective. Write notes in margin.

2. Illusions of competence - the idea that having the book in front of you makes you think you are learning the material. Test yourself through recall to see if you understand an idea.

3. Mini-testing - Like recall

4. Value of making mistakes - lets you see problems and correct mistakes
Elaborative interrogation
Generating an explanation for why an explicitly stated fact or concept is true
Explaining how new information is related to known information, or explaining steps taken during problem solving
writing summaries (of various lengths) of to-be-learned texts
Keyword mnemonic
Using keywords and mental imagery to associate verbal materials
Imagery for text
Attempting to form mental images of text materials while reading or listening
2 most effective learning strategies
Practice testing and distributed practice
Pomodoro Technique
• Improves productivity and protects health;
• Structure work in 25 minute sessions, each separated by a short break
Statements relating to procrastination:
• Writing the next day's task list before you go to sleep will help you be able to complete the items on the list the next day
• If you don't write down a task list, it can lurk at edge of working memory slots, taking up valuable mental real estate
• Planning your quitting time is as important as planning your work time
• Commit yourself to certain routines and tasks each day
• Delay rewards until you finish the task
• Watch for procrastination cues
• Gain trust in your new system
• Have backup plans for when you still procrastinate
• Eat your frogs first
Dunning-Kruger effect
• Unskilled individuals tend to suffer from illusory superiority, rating their ability much higher than accurate
• Highly skilled individuals rate their ability lower than accurate
Three things that impact your ability to chunk
Stress, anger, fear make it difficult to make connections (Situational Awareness)
Improving your reading
1. Skim before you read - improves comprehension
2. Improve your fluency to improve your speed - read more
3. Know what you want (intention) before you read it
4. Deeper processing tasks to improve retention
In activity, you should focus on xx not xx
process not product
Four types of cues
location, time, feelings, reaction to something
- try to eliminate the cue
What type of cells feed neurons and help us learn faster?
- provide nutrients
- Maintain extracellular ion balance
- repair neurons
Memory tricks
- make associations, like with numbers
- memory palace