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Posts Tagged ‘Academics’

Nature: The Natural Adderall

e9cab5788e12f4abd64a03a1739df4e2By Erin, Michaela, & McKayla

 

Having a hard time paying attention? Can’t remember all the definitions? Finals at Colby are no walk in the park. Exam week requires a lot of focused attention in order to study, write 15 page papers, and sit down for three-hour examinations. We all have gotten to that point where we feel like we can’t focus or direct our attention anymore. Research has shown that this happens when we overuse the brain’s inhibitory attention mechanisms and can no longer inhibit distractions (Kaplan, 1995). The person walking into the library, the pen tapping on the desk, the music coming from down the hall, all prevent us from maintaining focus on the task at hand. We have all suffered from directed attention fatigue. But what if a walk in the park could actually restore this fatigue and give you an edge academically? Read more…

Categories: Attention, Education, Memory Tags: ,

What’s Outside Your Window?

May 8th, 2016 No comments

By Leah, Lynna, Aiya, & Hannah

It’s room draw time.

What dorm do I want to be in? Do I want a double? Or a suite? Do I want to be close to the library? The dining hall? Where are my friends living?

b8335f7a0be0c4169a4942f618734848Although all of these questions are valid, an important element of room selection often fails to be considered. You may or may not think about it that much, but the view from your window has important effects on you, particularly if you’re a mentally drained and stressed-out college student. You have to look through it every day, and know which direction it faces relative to the sun. You want to have the best view without worrying about strangers peering in. But besides these concerns, the specifics of your window should be at the top of your dorm priority list. Research shows that a view of nature from your window has immense benefits, including improved mood, replenished attention and cognitive functioning, and reduced stress.

One of the dominant theories explaining nature’s positive cognitive benefits is Attention Restoration Theory (ART; Kaplan, 1995). Sustained effortful attention reduces your ability to pay attention. Imagine, for example, the cognitive resources it takes to proofread a long essay, and how exhausted you feel afterwards. You might make more mistakes as time goes on and be in a more negative mood. ART suggests that these cognitive resources can be replenished by engaging with nature (Kaplan, 1995). Proofreading an essay requires effortful sustained focus. Nature is less demanding because it easily draws attention and allows resources for effortful attention to replenish. Read more…

Does Speak Aloud Help Form Better Memory?

November 24th, 2015 1 comment

Do you still remember the bedtime stories your parents read for you when you were little? Well, most of us jdad-bedtime_2817042bust have a vague impression about what was told. Even if we read the story by ourselves, we are unlikely to remember much. However, it is not the same case for our parents: they are likely to remember very much about story, even specific details such as the characters and how you felt about them. Now think back again, comparing the textbook you read aloud for the class in the morning and a message on your cell phone that you read ten minutes ago, which one do you remember better? In my personal experience, I found it easier to recall the sentences from the book rather than the text message. This raises the question: is there a relationship between how people read information and how much is actually remembered? Read more…

Categories: Language, Memory Tags: ,

A Sideline Story: The Effect a History of Concussions has on both Cognitive Ability and Injury Recovery Time In Collegiate Athletes

November 24th, 2015 1 comment

If you had asked the high school version of myself about some of the parents of my peers not allowing their children to play football because of the sports dangers, I would have laughed at the idea. To me this was the greatest game in the world, a game that teaches the values of hard work, perseverance, and a humbleness that is hard to learn other places in life. How can you simply tell someone who has dedicated countless hours and years to their craft that they can no longer do the thing they love the most? But the dreaded “C word” whispered in both high school and college locker rooms across the country is doing just that, as the length of recovery for athletes with a history of concussions is being questioned.

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Does Caffeine Help Academic Performance?

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Last October Neuro, an energy drink company, held an online contest to name the newest flavor of their NeuroSonic energy drink. Without thinking much about it, I submitted a name and entered my address (all entrants got mailed a coupon for a free drink, after all!). Imagine my surprise when, two weeks later, I was notified that my submission made it into the top ten, earning me the consolation prize: an entire year of NeuroSonic! Two months later, 16 crates of the energy drink arrived at my house: a total of 384 bottles and 38,400 mg of caffeine.  I returned from winter break with 12 crates of my newly-acquired energy drink in tow, and neatly stacked them in my dorm. Every day I’d slip a NeuroSonic into my backpack, drinking it during my morning class. After a few weeks of this, I started drinking another bottle in the afternoon while doing homework. Then I began to wonder: is all of this caffeine actually improving my academic performance? What will happen when I run out of my free caffeinated beverage? Was there really “mental performance in every bottle®“?

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Categories: Attention, Education Tags:

Tests Don’t Have to be Bad!

December 9th, 2013 3 comments

Most people don’t enjoy taking tests. Tests mean stress, late nights, and coffee – lots and lots of coffee.  However, not all tests have to be bad. What if, in fact, some tests were helpful?

Testing, when used as a study method, benefits later retention – a phenomenon known as the testing effect (Roediger & Karpicke, 2006). In other words, students who take tests, rather than simply rereading their notes, while studying tend to do better on their actual exams (Roediger & Karpicke, 2006).

So what does this mean? Instead of merely rereading your notes or textbook, try taking some practice tests. Look for tests that offer immediate feedback, as immediate feedback provides even greater benefits in terms of performance on later assessments (Roediger & Butler, 2013).  It doesn’t matter if you find a short answer or multiple-choice practice test; as long as you answer questions and receive feedback, you will be studying and absorbing the material more effectively than if you were just rereading (Smith & Karpicke, 2013). Search the textbook and its website. You’re bound to find something!  Read more…

Categories: Education, Memory Tags: ,

Why those who force you to take exams are not actually terrible people

December 6th, 2013 3 comments

It’s not exactly a secret: when presented with the choice, students overwhelmingly avoid testing and exams like the plague. It’s not something we all met up and agreed upon; but rather a fundamental truth that we feel in hearts, bodies, minds and souls: we would rather get gingivitis than study for and take an exam. I’m sure many professors can begrudgingly attest to this.

However, like children that don’t want to eat their vegetables, we students can’t deny the overwhelming research that has shown that testing is, in fact, one of the best approaches to boosting memory. Unlike children that don’t want to eat their vegetables, though, I will not make you sit at the dinner table until you agree that you love taking tests. I will, however, provide you with several reasons why you should learn to love them (or even just kind of tolerate them), extracted from recent findings by Dunlosky et al (2013).

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Categories: Education, Memory Tags: ,

If your text book looks like the offspring of a rainbow, YOU’RE DOING SOMETHING WRONG!

December 2nd, 2013 9 comments
Your friends at Sharpie want you to 'highlight what's right'!

Your friends at Sharpie want you to ‘highlight what’s right’!

All students love to highlight. It’s easy, requires little time, and feels manageable. Though this study method may feel productive, does it actually enhance learning?

In a recent review of the literature, Dunlosky et al. (2013) reference several studies that show the potential benefits but overall disadvantages of highlighting.

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Categories: Education Tags:

Studying for finals? Best study tip: RETRIEVAL

November 26th, 2013 6 comments

With finals week fast approaching, are you starting to think about how you are going to study for your exams?

Well, Karpicke and Grimaldi (2012) argues, in their article, “Retrieval-Based Learning: A perspective for enhancing meaningful learning”, that retrieval is the best way to learn, and hence prepare for exams.

What is retrieval? Retrieval is the concept of active recalling of existing memory. Therefore, a retrieval-based learning/studying would require one to actively recall information repeatedly after going through the material once, as opposed to just reading through the material multiple times.

Learning is usually thought to be information that is inquired, understood, and stored in our memory, and sometimes the idea of applying this knowledge with pre-existing knowledge. Retrieval is very rarely known to be the key process in understanding and promoting learning. Retrieval is known to be a tool for assessing knowledge and a medium to test how much learning has taken place.

Karpicke and Grimaldi use several studies to demonstrate that retrieval of knowledge is actually a better way to learn and retain information. Below are two of the many studies to demonstrate this hypothesis, explained in a way that might be similar to how many of us study.

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Categories: Education, Memory Tags: ,

Doodle to Do Well

November 25th, 2013 9 comments

Ms. Barry’s short purple curls bounced whenever she yelled at me to pay attention. My elementary school years were filled with crayon and graphite tornadoes, spirals,  and flowers in the margins of my math-boxes. However, when work got serious in fifth grade, Ms. Barry would take away my pencil when she felt that I was not paying attention.

Four years after my fifth grade graduation, Jackie Andrade of University of Plymouth, UK found that doodling while listening to dull material could actually help listeners pay attention (2009). In her experiment, the researchers asked participants who had just completed another experiment if they would stay to listen to an “answering machine recording” that listed names of people attending a birthday party. Half of the participants listening shaded in printed shapes. At the end of the study, the participants were asked to remember as many of the eight people coming to the party as they could. The participants that had not shaded shapes were able to remember on average about 5.8 out of the possible eight names. Those who had shaded shapes were able to remember about 7.5 out of the possible eight names. This means that those doodling were significantly better at remembering the names of who were coming to the party. Although the research did not measure boredom or daydreaming, the researcher believed doodling acted as a tool to prevent daydreaming, thereby allowing the participants to be more attentive to the material they were hearing.

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Categories: Attention, Memory Tags: