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  • Writer's pictureRon Dickson

How to learn better Part 1

Learning is a skill that comes naturally to everyone. However, it doesn’t always go well when we decide to learn deliberately. As a teacher/ tutor/ mentor we must know and understand the material we are presenting and how this information can be stored and recalled most quickly and reliably.


To do this, we need to understand how the learning process works. This is a simplified version in straightforward language and ideas. A multitude of material is available that explains these processes in detail, which can be accessed to get a more detailed description. The actual process involved is far more complex than this


We have our storage which can be split into three parts: –

  • Short-Term Memory– Immediate information for simple tasks gets transferred to working is more complex

  • Working Memory – Lasts slightly longer but has limited capacity and is used for more complex information that requires manipulation. This information can be transferred to long-term memory if different from what is already there. Generally, it can only store five to seven things on a good day. Like a conveyor belt, once a new item comes in, the old item falls off the end

  • Long-term Memory – We want all our information to be stored so we can recall it later.

Learning is the process of getting what we want into our long-term memory and bringing that information back out so we can use it.


To do those, we need to develop and refine two processes to reduce our time spent learning, not necessarily our effort.

  • Encoding – The method of getting the information correctly into our long-term memory. It is not simply a case of repeating the same thing until it eventually happens. We must develop a deliberate process of how we encode the information.

  • Recall – The method of getting the information correctly out of our long-term memory. Often referred to as muscle memory.

To encode better, we need to vary the correct information, so we store it in as many ways as possible. To Recall better, we need to practice forgetting and remembering to improve the skill of recalling information later and not just during that one learning session. We also need to apply it in different situations to develop the flexibility of information and how to use it well.


More on encoding next week



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