How Fast Do You Learn?

According to the Harvard Business Review, learning agility is a mindset that allows individuals to develop, grow, and use new strategies for solving increasingly complex problems.  It involves a set of behaviors that help people learn more quickly.  These behaviors include the following:

  1. Use Pen and Paper
  2. Learn Note-Taking Skills
  3. Try Micro-Learning Sessions
  4. Change It Up
  5. Take Brain Breaks
  6. Connect the Dots

Knowing these six behaviors can help you learn quicker with better retention, which will improve your learning agility.

Learn here the three levels of learnability, and how to know if a person is currently enjoying career success, or if they are struggling.

1. Use Pen and Paper

Taking notes on a laptop slows down learning.  Researchers found that taking notes using pen and paper improves comprehension and retention.  Typing notes during a lecture provides a record of what was said, but it does not force you to synthesize the information.  Note-taking forces the brain to reframe the information, which results in better retention and recall.  Try old-fashioned note-taking when you read, watch or listen to new information to help learn faster.

2. Learn Note-Taking Skills

You may think your note-taking skills are fine; but if you aren’t interacting with your notes, you are missing the value of note-taking.  The Cornell Method is a strategy that helps organize notes into readable summaries, although there are a variety of methods.  Whatever strategy you use, be sure it includes the following:

  • Take notes in your own words
  • Leave room to add information to key ideas later
  • Develop a type of shorthand 
  • Do not worry about grammar and spelling

If you are using your notes, you will need space to add clarifying information or examples to help understand new concepts.

3. Try Micro-Learning Sessions

Micro-learning means multiple short sessions instead of one “cramming session” to improve understanding and retention.  Distributing multiple practice sessions on the same subject also helps with retention. The first session should include a review of your notes, followed by written addition or changes that reflect a better understanding of the material.  Shorter study sessions are easier to fit into a packed schedule, making it more likely to get done.

4.  Change It Up

Make minor changes to practice sessions.  Learning a skill or process takes practice; however, repeating the process exactly the same way slows down the learning process.  Making a small change in how you practice can improve the speed at which you learn.  Making big changes won’t help because you are deviating too much.  It is about changing perspective on how you’re doing something to keep the brain alert.

5.  Take Brain Breaks

Your brain needs a break.  Too much information and stress can leave you overwhelmed.  When that happens, the brain shuts down.  In fact, best teaching practices suggest that students take a short break every 20 minutes, especially when learning online.  The break can be as simple as changing your focus for a few minutes or going for a cup of coffee.  Movement is a great way to combat brain fatigue.

6.  Connect the Dots

Connecting new ideas to information you already know can help you learn faster.  Information held in short-term memory is lost or moved to long-term memory.  How quickly you access long-term memory depends on how related the information is to pre-existing knowledge.  Relating new ideas to existing information adds layers of meaning, which can help your understanding and recall.

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Learn here the three levels of learnability, and how to know if a person is currently enjoying career success, or if they are struggling.

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