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The Secret Behind Steve Jobs’ “Walking Meetings”

November 18th, 2014 3 comments

Have you ever taken part in a “walking meeting”? People who work closely with Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, arguably two of the most successful and innovative people of our time, have probably experienced these on a regular basis. Both of these influential people are known for frequently having important business meetings while walking outside. They certainly have enough building space to hold a meeting inside, so why do they do this? Have they noticed something about walking that helps them think differently than if they were sitting in a meeting room? Walking is known to be beneficial for our physical health, but what about its effect on our cognitive functioning?

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Could The Experts Be Wrong?!

May 18th, 2014 4 comments

In the field of cognitive psychology, it is widely believed that testing is the best way for a person to learn. Many studies have been conducted to establish the differences in retention between initial testing and the restudying of information. These studies found that final recall has greatly supported that when people are retested they retain more of the learned information. During testing, people make meaningful connections within their minds to understand what they are learning, this allows for more comprehensive recall later on. Students are forced to process the information deeper during testing than when they are simply rereading the information. This strategy has been something that many psychologists have been trying to get implemented into school systems and teaching styles. As a student, having to be tested all the time is not something I want. I also frequently find myself questioning if it really is as beneficial as the so-called experts say. There are some things that, no matter how many times I am tested on it and how many times I study it, I am simply unable to understand. A recent study by Bridger and Mecklinger questioned the benefits of this testing idea, and found that it may only work with certain kinds of information. Their research brought to light the idea of errorful learning, which is similar to testing yourself as a study method, and errorless learning, which is more like reviewing information as a study method. They attempted to draw attention to the fact that errorful learning may not be the most beneficial strategy to long-term retention.

 

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Categories: Education Tags: ,

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:

Understanding Ebooks

Say, you’re Homer (the Greek one), and you’ve just put the finishing touches on your latest epic. You’re going to want a book. You’re going to want one so that you won’t have to worry about people mishearing your singing (because microphones haven’t been invented yet) or those pesky barbarians on the road to the next town mugging you and stealing your lyre. If you think about it, a book is a pretty nifty piece of technology. In fact, books are awesome enough to have been in use for something like 5000 years, and not only to still be in use in modern society, but to still be commonplace in it.

They're really expensive

They’re really expensive!

It is probably because books printed on paper have been so reliably awesome for so long that there has been so much controversy surrounding the expansion of reading platforms to include E-reading devices (Kindles or Nooks) and computers. Bibliophiles everywhere are collectively freaking out about the end of printed books, and as a result, a lot of ink has been spilled (Well, maybe not ink. Pixels, maybe? Bytes?) on research to determine how these new formats measure up to our classic, well-loved paperbacks. Read more…

Categories: Attention, Education, Language, Memory Tags:

Don’t Let It Go: How To Study For Finals Using Testing

May 2nd, 2014 5 comments

The clock signals the hour. Your palms are sweaty as your professor hands out your final exam. You take a deep breath and look down at the questions in front of you only to realize that you have no idea what the answer is to the first question. Has this ever happened to you? I know it’s happened to me more times than I care to admit. I’ve even had exams that I’ve spent hours studying for and found my brain completely blank when finally confronted with the exam. As a result, I’ve been on the search for the best study strategies to combat these final exam blues.

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Categories: Attention, Education, Memory 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: ,

Did They Pass or Did They Mass: A Context Perspective

November 25th, 2013 2 comments

Let’s go on a journey into the life of a student, shall we? It’s 11PM the evening before your final exam. You are reading over the material countless times, hoping that it will still be fresh in your mind at 9 AM the next morning. Thoughts may be running through your head, one of them being: I wish I had studied this material before this dreadful, crammed study session. Well, it turns out that your thoughts are on the right track! Memory research has suggested advantages for distributing the study of material across time, also known as the spacing effect. This effect suggests that one is better able to remember information when learning is spaced across multiple, separate sittings. On the other hand, material is not remembered as well when the learning is crammed into one sitting.  For example, you may have a list of vocabulary words to learn for next week. According to the spacing effect, you will better remember the words if you study for a half hour every other day than for an hour and a half the night before the test.

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