×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

UCLA Professor Says Conventional Wisdom on Study Habits Is All Washed Up

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the my-insomnesia-got-me-through-school dept.

Education 329

An anonymous reader writes "Taking notes during class? Topic-focused study? A consistent learning environment? According to Robert Bjork, director of the UCLA Learning and Forgetting Lab, distinguished professor of psychology, and massively renowned expert on packing things in your brain in a way that keeps them from leaking out, all are three are exactly opposite the best strategies for learning."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

329 comments

Do Not Want (4, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860121)

I do not want to hear about experts in learning from someone who non-ironically refers to one of them as a "massively renowned expert."

Re:Do Not Want (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38860151)

Welcome to academia. If you don't tell people you are important, they won't know and won't care. There is a saying that a PhD is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. An academic career is 10% inspiration, 40% perspiration and 50% marketing.

Re:Do Not Want (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38860495)

That's Common Law modesty. PhDs in most subjects are still quite hard and you have to be reasonably clever to get one.

Re:Do Not Want (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38860599)

I can't speak to how true that is generally, but it's not true here. As a grad student in psychology and cognitive science, I can tell you that Bob Bjork is sufficiently well-established in the field that he doesn't need to tell anyone else he's important - they know it already. I was fortunate enough to hear him give a talk on this topic a couple of weeks ago, and he cited a number of his studies in the memory and learning literature that I'd heard of before without remembering that he was a coauthor on all of them. (It was a bit like that moment where you suddenly realize that a bunch of songs you like are all written by the same band.) In this case, at least, his renown is attributable primarily to the hard work he's put in over the last several decades.

His brain is better than mine (4, Interesting)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860199)

I gotta concede that Professor Bjork's brain is much better than mine.

Bjork also recommends taking notes just after class, rather than during â" forcing yourself to recall a lectureâ(TM)s information is more effective than simply copying it from a blackboard

That might work for him because his brain has the capacity to recall all the stuffs _after_ the class is over. Not me.

If I waited till the class is over and _then_ started to write down the notes based on what I recall, I probably can recall 15% to 20% of the total thing.

Granted, not every single word from the lecturer mouth is useful, but still, about 30% of the stuffs an average lecturer taught in an average college level class is relevant in _someway_ to the subject in hand.

My own ability to recall only 15% to 20% means that there will be essential stuffs that I would have missed.

Re:His brain is better than mine (5, Insightful)

The Wild Norseman (1404891) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860233)

That might work for him because his brain has the capacity to recall all the stuffs _after_ the class is over. Not me.

If I waited till the class is over and _then_ started to write down the notes based on what I recall, I probably can recall 15% to 20% of the total thing.

That might be true, right now. How about after a little bit of practice? You might be surprised to find out that it won't take too long for you to be able to improve your after-class recall ability.

Re:His brain is better than mine (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860291)

That might work for him because his brain has the capacity to recall all the stuffs _after_ the class is over. Not me.

If I waited till the class is over and _then_ started to write down the notes based on what I recall, I probably can recall 15% to 20% of the total thing.

That might be true, right now. How about after a little bit of practice? You might be surprised to find out that it won't take too long for you to be able to improve your after-class recall ability.

What you said makes sense for some subjects but not all.

If the subject at hand is math, or programming, or laying bricks, for example, practicing what I just heard from the class do tend to re-enforce what I recall

But what if the subject in hand is quantum mechanics, or nuclear physics, or subjects that are more conceptual than practical?

Re:His brain is better than mine (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38860319)

The problem is actually getting through the class in the first place .. not only in terms of being able to keep up. Since everyone tends to fall asleep after 30-45 minutes, we need to have shorter lessons. Since everyone falls asleep after lunch, we should have labs after lunch.

Re:His brain is better than mine (5, Interesting)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860439)

The problem is actually getting through the class in the first place .. not only in terms of being able to keep up. Since everyone tends to fall asleep after 30-45 minutes, we need to have shorter lessons.

My view is that we need to adapt "burst-mode" into the way we teach / learn

Throughout the millennia the patent of sharing knowledge amongst human being has been in a linear scale - that is, bit by bit, at almost constant rate.

That was okay provided there is not much to be learn, (or not much depth) for that particular subject

But today's world we live in, many subjects have accumulated so much in scope - whether we talk about mathematics or chemistry or philosophy - learning knowledge bit by little bit would take too much time - and yes, students do fall asleep in classes

That is why I propose the "burst mode" teaching / learning process, in which, the knowledge is packaged in such interesting / memorable way that we can cramp a lot into our brain in a short while - before boredom sets in.

Re:His brain is better than mine (1)

The Wild Norseman (1404891) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860455)

Since I posted, I can't mod you up. Interesting ideas, btw. Do you have any links that I could follow up with?

Re:His brain is better than mine (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860497)

Since I posted, I can't mod you up. Interesting ideas, btw. Do you have any links that I could follow up with?

I'm afraid this "burst mode learning / teaching" thing is only a propose idea, for now, and I am afraid I ain't brainy enough to structure it properly

However I do encourage others, - especially those with more brain power than me, - to give it some thought / push it further

Re:His brain is better than mine (1)

garaged (579941) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860701)

That's a really short span attention deficit, Ph.D. Classes tend to be two hours long at least where I studied, with that kind of handicap I would got my grade, and Im really not that smart, not even have good memory.

Re:His brain is better than mine (2)

Your.Master (1088569) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860403)

When I was learning those topics (all the ones you listed save for laying bricks) I didn't take any notes in class. Maybe I'm just the target subject, but if I forgot something in QM then I can still remember enough to look it up in my text or even online.

Instead of QM and nuclear physics, I would have used literature analysis or the like, because there you specifically want the professor's insights rather than verifiable points of fact.

Re:His brain is better than mine (2)

The Wild Norseman (1404891) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860435)

But what if the subject in hand is quantum mechanics, or nuclear physics, or subjects that are more conceptual than practical?

Good example. My personal experience has been, however, that I'm not too concerned with taking precise notes in those kinds of situations; for me, it'd be too distracting for me to be busily trying to take notes and be distracted enough to miss the nuances of more in-depth subjects.

Re:His brain is better than mine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38860311)

So basically you should fail the class until you improve your recall? Yeah, that's going to fly in competitive academic environments or people who need to keep above a certain GPA to not lose scholarships.

Mod parent up! (2, Interesting)

khasim (1285) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860273)

Trying to recall the material AFTER the class means that you WILL forget things.

But it gets a bit worse. From TFA:

Note that thereâ(TM)s a trick implied by âoeprovided the retrieval succeedsâ: You should space your study sessions so that the information you learned in the first session remains just barely retrievable.

And how are you supposed to accomplish that? I'm sure that it really does work in the tests they've performed. But how would you implement that on your own?

How do you know that you're about to forget something if you don't recall it within the next 24 hours? Without recalling that you recall it right now?

Then, the more you have to work to pull it from the soup of your mind, the more this second study session will reinforce your learning.

Again as with the initial "notes after class". How do you KNOW that you have NOT forgotten something?

I can see how "discovering" this in a "memory experiment" testing situation would happen. But how to apply that information outside of such an experiment?

Re:Mod parent up! (3, Insightful)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860389)

Note that thereÃ(TM)s a trick implied by Ãoeprovided the retrieval succeedsÃ: You should space your study sessions so that the information you learned in the first session remains just barely retrievable.

And how are you supposed to accomplish that? I'm sure that it really does work in the tests they've performed. But how would you implement that on your own?

What Professor Bjork proposed does work, but only to some degree, based on my own experience

For me, the learning process is a bit like digesting food

My puny little brain just can't process all the new info/ideas/concepts that it has just received, and a lot of those new info ended up somehow cramped up in some secret compartments somewhere

As time goes by, my brain (and this puny little semi-retarded brain of my does not stop working even when I'm asleep) digests the stored information, bit by bit - often without me knowing what's going on

But those bit-by-bit info-digestion do add up, and they contribute to moments of "insights" or "enlightenment" when I encouter some sets of similar but un-related information

Take language --- I am not an English native speaker.

The first time I learned English it took me literary years to comprehend the basics

But when I encounter Spanish, French, Italian, Portugese, Latin in later years I found that I can get along with these language much faster than I first encounter English

It might be that the digestive-process of the English Language in my mind that took decades somehow contributed in my enhance ability to match words (similar but not exact match) and that helped a lot

How do you know that you're about to forget something if you don't recall it within the next 24 hours? Without recalling that you recall it right now?

All I can say is that while our brains may be similar they are still different

Maybe Professor Bjork's brain is much better than mine that's why he could master things that I can't.

And maybe there are people with brains that are much superior than the one in between the ears of Professor Bjork, and they can get instant recall to _every_single_thing, without effort.

Re:Mod parent up! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38860643)

The first time I learned English it took me literary years to comprehend the basics

You spent several solar orbits reading books?

Re:Mod parent up! (2)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860683)

The first time I learned English it took me literary years to comprehend the basics

You spent several solar orbits reading books?

I do not read books to learn English

I use English to learn English

Very very poor English at first, with all kinds of grammar mistakes

Re:Mod parent up! (5, Insightful)

swalve (1980968) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860429)

Again as with the initial "notes after class". How do you KNOW that you have NOT forgotten something?

Because instead of being a stenographer, you were paying attention and learning. If you listen to the lecture knowing that you will have to summarize it right after, you will remember what needs to be remembered. It's the difference between learning something and memorizing something.

Re:His brain is better than mine (5, Interesting)

Fzz (153115) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860305)

I've always found that I can take notes, or understand, but I can't do both. Back when I was a student, i generally taken almost no notes - just perhaps half a page to a page in an hours lecture - just the key points and nothing else to act as reminders later. It always worked well for me - I seemed to be the only person who actually understood stuff.

Of course, revision for exams was interesting, but it really was revision, because I didn't have enough notes to attempt to learn anything during revision. Probably fits with the article - remembering during revision was hard, but once I had remembered, I really knew it well.

Re:His brain is better than mine (5, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860339)

One of my father's lecturers said that information was transferred from him to his students notes without going through their brains. I never took notes in lectures when I went to university and I generally did better than people who did. If you don't understand something, go and read a book about it after the lecture. Distracting yourself from the lecturer while you're trying to understand what he's saying isn't going to help.

Re:His brain is better than mine (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38860385)

What happens when it is on-line and you can pause it. Maybe the professors will break it up into 10 minute parts, and then you can take notes at the end of those 10 minutes.

Just because we have been doing things one way doesn't mean that it is the best.

Re:His brain is better than mine (4, Interesting)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860489)

If you're taking many notes, you're not really listening. If you're really listening, you'll remember much more at the end of class and you'll be able to fill in a lot of notes.

Here's what I've found works for most people if they're willing to try it. Listen to the lecture and make very short notes about the most important points and/or details that you want to remember. Then, fill in additional notes at the end of class (or at the next break). Discuss them with other students if needed to fill in what you may have missed. How do you know what you missed? It if seemed important, you should have a brief note about it. Also, in discussing it with other students you'll hear what they noted as "important" and can add that to your notes if necessary.

If you're a touch typist, it's less distracting to type notes, writing requires more attention. That might not apply on touchscreen devices.

Another option is to record the session on a voice recorder to help fill in the gaps you can't remember at the end of class. Of course, it can take extra time to listen again, but for a few people, that might be the most effective method.

Re:His brain is better than mine (3, Insightful)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860547)

Here's what I've found works for most people if they're willing to try it. Listen to the lecture and make very short notes about the most important points and/or details that you want to remember.

Hence lie several dilemma:

1. When I take notes, even very very short notes, I have to "switch" my focus from "listening to / looking at the lecturer" to focus on "looking at the stuffs I write on the paper / screen"

In other words, the time I use to write / type in the very very short note is the very time I can't focus on the lecturer

2. How do I judge which information are of "more importance"? Take take judgment call, and in order to make a judgment call, I need to scan the info that are already inside my brain and pick out what's more important

And in doing that, I loose focus on the lecturer and what he/she is telling me at that point in time

Then, fill in additional notes at the end of class (or at the next break). Discuss them with other students if needed to fill in what you may have missed.

Yes, I do find that very rewarding, especially if I can find classmates that have the ability to look at the same subject from a different point of view, and we can exchange our different POV on the same subject and we all learn together

Re:His brain is better than mine (1)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860593)

If you're having to switch your focus, you're either writing too much, or you need more practice at listening. Again, if you're a touch typist, you shouldn't have to change focus at all, just type.

Re:His brain is better than mine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38860667)

"In other words, the time I use to write / type in the very very short note is the very time I can't focus on the lecturer"

Luckily enough, natural languages are terribly sparse, so you won't lose anything and, in the rare event that you did, you ask a mate.

"How do I judge which information are of "more importance"?"

If by the time you are at the university you don't have the ability to detect that on the spot, you have worse problems than taking notes. Heck, if by the time you are 18 y.o. you don't have the social ability to detect when somebody is trying to communicate something of special relevance within a message, you probably have quite worse problems than your qualifications.

Re:His brain is better than mine (5, Interesting)

hey! (33014) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860507)

I always had a very good memory for lecture material. I typically took notes, then never had to look at them again. Nor do I pay *any* attention to notes while I am taking them. I just scribble along, focused on the instructor, or sometimes jotting thoughts that are provoked. In fact I think worrying about structuring your notes as you take them just distracts you from the material you're supposed to be learning. My study time tends to be spent on *reasoning* about the material, or working practice problems, not driving facts into my skull long hoping they'll stay there long enough for me to use them on the test.

So if I never refer to my notes, why take them at all? Because when I didn't take notes, the magic didn't work. It's possible taking notes ensured I was paying attention, but I think there' s more to it than that. I'm reasonably certain that physical activity that's tied to the visual and auditory information did something to fix the material in my memory.

If that is true, why it should be so is beyond me. The brain is complicated, ad hoc hunk of goo that evolved to keep us alive and procreating on the African savanna. It's got its own way of doing things, and doesn't have to play by the rules set by our theories of education or psychology. But to this day I never go to an important meeting without a stack of paper and pencils.

Re:His brain is better than mine (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38860519)

Indeed. I remember "Electromagnetics II" course and some of the work we did in there. The professor would lead us through some contrived problem which is intended to demonstrate the principles we'd been taught. Trying to do that from memory would be impossible - the man went through 8 chalkboards to solve the problem, including one memorable equation that crossed, from left to right, 10 meters of mathematical expression. So after class... was that integral from 0 to 2*pi, or -pi to +pi, or... ah, let me borrow your notes....

This is not an isolated example for a math-focused student's life. Certainly the ability to regurgitate that equation and the steps required to derive it does not demonstrate understanding of the problem - but understanding was measured by most tests I took in engineering school. Merely the ability to solve the problem for the answer "2 pi" or some similar tripe.

Bjork's recommendations point towards a fundamental problem in education - students are not taught to understand, they are taught to pass the teachers' and system's tests.

Re:His brain is better than mine (3, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860561)

I always found the key to taking notes was to only jot out very quick ideas that strike you as important, that you might not be able to remember later. Don't try to capture everything, just capture an outline of the most important things that you won't remember on your own.

Then after that, after class, immediately go somewhere and type up your notes. Flesh them out a bit-- give more detail of what you can remember, explain to yourself why you thought the things you wrote down were important. This after-class session gives you a chance to reorganize your notes and add to them while things are still fresh in your mind. It also will help you remember things later. Even write yourself a little report afterwards if that helps.

I've watched too many people takes notes where they seem intent on copying down all the information being presented. This is a bad idea. You get so focused on capturing it all that you aren't paying attention and aren't thinking about what is being presented. If you really need all the information for later, then see if you can record the lecture. However, it generally shouldn't be necessary. Along with everything else, when you take so many notes, they're basically useless later. There's too much. It's much better to keep your notes to the bare essentials.

Re:That might work for him (4, Insightful)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860575)

I looked over half the thread of comments and glanced at the summary, and it seems that everyone is still missing the way I used to study.

1. Diagram/Map/Lay out the book chapter(s) before the class.

2. In class, just put little dots or something that's a repeat of the book.

3. Then when the Prof. goes off into some other topic, then take real notes, sometimes in a different color. A lot of times those notes are the ones that show up on exams when you get a mean Prof. who prides themselves on making exams "that you had to be in class to pass".

Even better, *Record* the lectures! What's with all this "try to recall it later?" On the couple times I tried it, I did better listening to the lecture *three times* and mapping that out on paper next to the book notes.

It was enough to get me B's and B+'s. (I didn't get A's because I'd always miss something, but overall, I didn't mind the half-grade slide once I left college.)

Re:That might work for him (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860607)

What you've pointed out make a lot of sense, if we are talking about structured classroom setting - with textbooks and such

But what if the thing is in a symposium or convention of some sort - where you know they guy who is going to give the lecture is someone who knows what he/she is talking about but you have no textbook to help you to prepare in advance for that lecture?

Re:His brain is better than mine (1)

lahvak (69490) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860621)

If I waited till the class is over and _then_ started to write down the notes based on what I recall, I probably can recall 15% to 20% of the total thing.

Sure, but then you would actually recall that stuff, not only when taking the notes, but also on the exam, next semester in the subsequent class, in the future on the job, etc. With your current system, if you cannot recall more than 15 - 20% right after the lecture, how much will you recall later on?

Re:His brain is better than mine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38860627)

Agree that you can't remember what was said half/one hour later. You also won't remember much if you are furiously scribbling down words verbatim instead of processing them first.

So what lecturers should do is to pause and let students catch up, digest the information and then jot down what's really important, before continuing.

Even in the workplace, when I am in meetings and have to write meeting minutes, I pause and reiterate the key points so that I can have them confirmed again and write them down.

Re:His brain is better than mine (2)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860641)

"That might work for him because his brain has the capacity to recall all the stuffs _after_ the class is over. Not me."

I think you have a point there.

Probably not every brain will work the same at that level. And not only because the brain itself but because of what have you accustomed yourself and the environment you are forced to live with.

Another poster noted that you shouldn't take notes during the class but right after it. Well, right after the class I usually had... another class. What then?

Others said that they can take notes or listen but not both. Well, my notes when at the uni usually took no more than one page per class, usually much less, sometimes just three-four words to recall what the lecturer had talked about -and I'm talking about physics, statistics or math. I suppose it's easier to take notes and listen when you just take some few words.

I had not brilliant but quite good qualifications but my point is that others, using a different methodology, one that fitted them, were able to reach qualifications as good as mine or even better so, in the end, what was the point again?

Forget everything you know about learning. (3, Funny)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860135)

Thanks to the old system, it was easy.

Re:Forget everything you know about learning. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38860219)

Thanks to the old system, it was easy.

Not to me.

Endless rote memorization: writing, flash cards, drills, ugh!

Humans naturally want to learn. It's innate in our being and yet, we get to school and hate it - at least 90% of us do. (The other 10% are the A students. )

When we're left to our own devices and learning something that we're interested in, do we learn like we do in school? I don't. It's all one big discovery. And the wonderful thing about the internet, it makes following curiosities even easier - until you tired and head over to Fark.

Re:Forget everything you know about learning. (5, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860315)

Thanks to the old system, it was easy.

Not to me.

Endless rote memorization: writing, flash cards, drills, ugh!

Humans naturally want to learn. It's innate in our being and yet, we get to school and hate it - at least 90% of us do. (The other 10% are the A students. )

When we're left to our own devices and learning something that we're interested in, do we learn like we do in school? I don't. It's all one big discovery. And the wonderful thing about the internet, it makes following curiosities even easier - until you tired and head over to Fark.

This is easily the most insightful yet commonsense comment in the entire discussion. Modern schooling sucks the life and soul out of learning and produces factory-style people who have forgotten what curiosity and the joy of discovery is all about.

I believe that's by design. It results in people who can't or won't educate themselves, who were raised to believe that education is something another person must give to you. They're simply easier to rule, especially when propaganda (particularly framing) and soundbites are your major tools.

Re:Forget everything you know about learning. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38860357)

That's why I didn't take programming or compsci in college. Also, I hated school but I was still an A student, because I taught myself the material years before it was actually covered. And I guess my teachers just let me get on with my own learning (from the textbook) anyway.

I'm actually in med school now and I find learning by apprenticeship much easier than going home after and reading up on it, mainly because I get distracted and start working on my programming projects or other hobbies...

I can corroborate this (5, Interesting)

davesque (1911272) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860141)

I majored in music in college. Throughout my life, I've gone through various phases of being out of practice, getting back into the practicing groove, falling out of it, getting back into it again, and so on. I've noticed every time I return to the instrument after having taken a long break, there is a short period of difficulty followed by a burst of learning and progress. Sounds just like what the prof is talking about.

Meh, I prefer Bjork's earlier work (4, Funny)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860147)

Bjork should stick to making creepy pop music and leave education to the professionals.

and college sucks vs real work / tech learing (2, Interesting)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860153)

Yes College CS is like serves, synchronized swimming, European capitals, and programming in Java. where they mix in lot's of use less skills and stuff that is very far what you want learn.

Now for IT tech work CS is loaded with stuff that is far off from what is the basic of IT some stuff you can only pick up by doing real work.

Take CS and tech school.

Tech school Let's say you take a windows sever / desktop cores line they may Interleaving some cisco, some VB.

But CS has Lot's of theory with SOME (way less then a tech school) of the other stuff Interleaving in to the class plan.

Tech school should be Interleaving real work / on going education system.

Re:and college sucks vs real work / tech learing (2)

ALeavitt (636946) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860197)

To be honest, if on-the-job training results in an inability to write legible English, I'll stick with college.

Re:and college sucks vs real work / tech learing (1)

devphaeton (695736) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860259)

I was about to post the same thing.

Maybe English isn't Joe_Dragon's first language, to which I would give him a pass. However, his mistakes look more like someone who learned it poorly as a first language. There are lots (not lot's) of examples of that on the web, while there are lots of examples of people learning English as a second, third or fourth language who can read and write it perfectly.

*sighs*

Re:and college sucks vs real work / tech learing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38860265)

To be honest, if on-the-job training results in an inability to write legible English, I'll stick with college.

That's what happens when you're all tech and no humanities: people who are unable to communicate with others outside of their very narrow professional sphere.

Up next......

Why technical education makes for inflexible workers.

But why can't we have tech schools with humanities (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860335)

IT's also most like there are 2 extremes there.

one With the well rounded loaded with theory that trun out people who can come to a tech job and have no idea on what they are doing. I have seen storys where people with a CS BA thing that file extensions are some ones initials. (I thing it was a Help desk / QA job) and they where give javascript errors to some name how had the initials of JS. Now me that people who went to a tech school for 2 years or less as well no school at all (but did IT work on there own) can do much better then that?

Tech school may be missing humanities but it was real skills that you need on the job.

Now why can't we move the humanities to JR college / community colleges? Why does Tech learning have to shoehorned in to the old college system for stuff that moves fast and need lot's of on going learning. Why does college CS missing so many skills that you need to do a tech job.

Re:But why can't we have tech schools with humanit (3, Interesting)

JonySuede (1908576) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860559)

Because CS!=IT, that all....

CS is someone using is knowledge of theory to suggest adding a bloom filter to a database before performing a membership test in a big set.
IT is the guy who manages, configure and deploy the servers...

Re:and college sucks vs real work / tech learing (1)

FrootLoops (1817694) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860343)

I don't really think that's true. People who might go for a purely technical education usually have a strong command of the technical aspects of writing. Whether or not that includes the ability to actually communicate is another issue, but the original post has a huge number of technical mistakes. I don't really know why it's so highly modded right now; it doesn't seem particularly original or insightful, and it's really hard to read.

Re:and college sucks vs real work / tech learing (1)

fotoguzzi (230256) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860329)

Is the parent really a +4 comment? Why have a moderation system if that gets four out of five stars? Unless, of course, the above was randomly generated and represents the brilliant future of automated discourse.

Re:and college sucks vs real work / tech learing (2)

digitig (1056110) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860333)

CS teaches the stuff you need for CS work, but there's not much of that around. The stuff you describe is IT work, which is a different thing altogether, and for which I agree that a CS qualification is of limited use. Somebody needs to be devising new algorithms for challenging tasks and calculating their efficiency, but you don't want them to be doing that when you're waiting for them to get the network running again.

Tell that to HR and the PHB boss who has no idea (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860355)

Tell that to HR and the PHB boss who has no idea on that and tell him that the network is down do him not signing off on the funds to get new hardware and get backup / add Redundancy to the hardware setup.

If it works don't fix it does not = keeping useing old stuff right up to it dieing / saying we don't need Redundancy.

Re:and college sucks vs real work / tech learing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38860487)

I've hired a lot of folks in my tenure, both with CS degrees and without. Here's my experience in terms of hiring programmers/software engineers.

1.) A person who "learned on their own" tends to know a whole lot about a specific topic. Often they are really great [insert your favorite language] programmers. What they tend to be very bad at is having a breadth of knowledge, having an ability to adapt to new challenges and to having an ability to solve real software engineering problems. These are the people who get hired (generally) to do programming work but never really progress beyond that. They also tend to have really bad habits, like PHP.

2.) A person with a CS degree tends to know a little bit about everything: databases, programming, networks, parallelism, etc. Often right out of school they can't code themselves out of a paper bag (CS doesn't teach programming, it teaches computer science). However, once they get some real world experience under their belt, they are generally a lot more capable of adapting to new challenges. Need to learn a new language? No problem. Need to step in an do some database tasks? No problem. They also tend to have a lot better grasp on fundamental concepts that have nothing to do with a particular language/technology. Design patterns, order of complexity, etc.

But to be fair, both of the above, as a stand alone, are generally, at best, mediocre at their job. The best candidates are those that have done both.

and The best candidates are those that have done (2)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860715)

and The best candidates are those that have done both is nice but college is not setup to trun people out like that.

And that is why lettering in smaller blocks with real skills mixed in as well on going classes is a better way to it and that is why Tech schools with DROP IN classes / apprenticeships is needed.

Also databases, programming, networks, parallelism, etc. may good for all IT people to take on a basic level (in each area) but some areas hare so much in depth that it takes someone to know a whole lot about a specific topic to be able to work with it.

But what does help is all the far off base filler classes now how does ART history, underwater basket weaving, European capitals, swimming (yes some colleges still have the swim test) help you be a better IT guy?

Re:and college sucks vs real work / tech learing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38860665)

Funny you mention that. About 8 years ago, I was working with an offshore IT team when we had an issue with some malware -- they had downloaded some infected pirate version of Office or Windows or something similar and the machines on their network were attacking our machines over the VPN.

There were some really smart guys on the team, including some guy with a masters from a well known university in India. Confident that they could handle it, we tasked them with it at 5pm as we were leaving for the day and they were just coming on line. The next day, when we came to work, the onshore team all had a copy of a research report written by the guy with the masters discussing the theory of how malware propagates.

I have to say (1)

Angostura (703910) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860163)

... the taking notes just after a lecture idea does seem a really rather good idea.

Re:I have to say (3, Insightful)

rherbert (565206) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860193)

... unless you have another class right afterwards, or you forget one of the 10 points he outlined in class. Helping memory recall is a secondary reason to take notes. The primary is to have a complete reference for when you forget.

Re:I have to say (3, Interesting)

adamdoyle (1665063) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860211)

... unless you have another class right afterwards, or you forget one of the 10 points he outlined in class.

Helping memory recall is a secondary reason to take notes. The primary is to have a complete reference for when you forget.

That's what I was thinking, as well. Some teachers will post notes after class, though, and that's where his advice would be relevant. In those classes, focus on the material and how you're going to remember it. Then try and reproduce it all after class, on paper. Then compare it against the actual notes that were posted online and pay extra time learning the stuff that you forgot.

Re:I have to say (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860243)

Then you should be sure to only take classes where the teacher is organized enough to provide you with complete notes in the first place. In fact, you should probably do that anyway. What's that? Your school doesn't give you a choice? That's strange. . .

Re:I have to say (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38860297)

you could just record your class. another way to do it would be to take notes during class and take another set afterwards after class without looking at your originals. this would be effective due to an effect called the "testing effect."

Re:I have to say (2)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860341)

ding ding ding we have a winner! record your classes, its not like all but the absolute cheapest of cellphones dont record voice and or video, even then we have these things called micro cassettes that seem to have worked for the last 30 or so years for millions of students

I always found taking notes during very distracting, hm how the hell do you spell that? oh shit what did he say dammit now I am missing 2 parts!

Re:I have to say (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860203)

It might seem like a good idea, but it doesn't work very well in a lot of subjects. Tell me how well that works out when you have a professor that can spew out a 700 page lawbook worth of knowledge in a 1.5hr period and expect you to have it more or less memorized for the following week for the spot test. Especially when that type of information is required to be at the top of your head at all times.

court is open book / open doc's and there is a lot (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860249)

court is open book / open doc's and there is a lot of pre trail work done as well. No pop quiz's in court

Re:court is open book / open doc's and there is a (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860399)

Indeed. Though your ability to know mounds of knowledge and apply it to the situation at hand is crucial.

Re:I have to say (1)

tomtomtom (580791) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860613)

... the taking notes just after a lecture idea does seem a really rather good idea.

Unless what matters is the detail and not the "big picture". Like in literally ANY mathematically-based subject. If anything, the fact that this technique would work seems an indictment of the level of academic rigour in many subjects in itself.

Old News (1)

atari2600a (1892574) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860183)

>2012 >Traditional education >Taking notes >Lectures I seriously hope you guys don't do this

Traditional education = poor fit for today's world (2)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860279)

Traditional education = poor fit for today's world.

We need more apprenticeship like learning for lot's of fields.

Less need college for jobs that DON'T need it.

Move to 3 year system (filler and other stuff is pushing a Traditional 4 year out to five years)

Cut down the theory overload / Make tech / voc schools stand out more.

Re:Traditional education = poor fit for today's wo (4, Insightful)

grcumb (781340) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860589)

We need more apprenticeship like learning for lot's of fields.

Less need college for jobs that DON'T need it.

Er, judging by the above, I'd say:

No, son. You really should keep taking English courses. Really. Trust me on this one.

My question is (-1, Troll)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860187)

Did this Professor of Learning and Forgetting learn his lesson after losing that bruising Reagan-era Supreme Court nomination battle? Or does he pretend to have forgotten all about it?

Re:My question is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38860237)

That was Robert Bork. This one is Robert A. Bjork. Not the same guy.

Heck, I'm not even American.

Re:My question is (-1, Offtopic)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860673)

That was Robert Bork. This one is Robert A. Bjork. Not the same guy.

Heck, I'm not even American.

Yes, I'm aware of that - it was a joke. Just like the post about "weird rock music" made by someone else - I don't imagine they really confused this guy with the Icelandic singer.

Sheesh, Slashdotters have so little imagination anymore...

From a current student (1)

RandomAvatar (2487198) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860253)

I would have to agree with him on some things, though I personally find that these things were glaringly obvious.

Taking notes during class is not a good study habit because you are focusing on writing what is being said/done/written instead of on the lesson.
Consistent learning environments can also be bad for study because the brain tends to try and relate knowledge with other knowledge, be that information similar to what you are trying to learn, or what you see, smell, etc. By changing study locations even by a small amount the amount your brain reduces the amount it relies on information pertaining to the senses.

Re:From a current student (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38860353)

well, i think that the reason changing learning environments could be helpful is not because it blocks associative cues (which you infer) but rather because it creates MORE situational and environmental cues for later recall. there are two other reasons that come to mind: the disfluency effect, which causes better retention due to more effort in encoding, and distributed practice effect, which predicts that discontinuous and sporadic practice is more effective than massed practice. disfluency comes into play because changing environments eliminates context-dependent associational cues (as you inferred) and distributed practice could be involved if context switching is done often.

This seems so obvious (3, Insightful)

NoSleepDemon (1521253) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860269)

yet teachers got it wrong so frequently at my school. I have never been able to learn 'by rote'. I always had massive difficulty in school packing in equations and bite sized tid bits of crap without ever seeing the real picture, while everyone around me seemed to be perfectly happy with it but ended up never applying anything that they learnt. Case in point - math, which I hated at school and was notoriously bad at is now one of my strongest skills and something I really enjoy, and it's because I learnt it, properly, at University where I actually had to *apply* my skills through programming algorithms instead of just figuring out the 2nd order differential of yet another curve. It was through the use of what I had learnt and the application of every skill I had that finally made me 'get' math, and that happened over the course of a few months instead of 10 years suffering a horrendously bad curriculum. I can only hope that teachers continue to 'discover' the obvious so that one day entire cohorts of children won't be turned off 'hard' subjects like Math, and that the notion that Math is hard in the first place, and that it is therefore o.k. to suck at it to the point of not being able to use it for every day tasks, will be laid to rest.

Re:This seems so obvious (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38860421)

you call these things obvious, but i bet you that your own study habits are subject to many biases, flaws, and inefficiencies. it is really easy to point out how others are flawed, but in reality i think the truth is much more subtle. general knowledge tends to be behind scientific knowledge by a great deal. for example, behaviorist research in the 40's and 50's which showed punishment was an ineffective method of behavioral change did not make it to mainstream knowledge until the late 70's and 80's, when it started to become a social taboo to hit your children.

as a cognitive psychologist (grad school), i can see that education in america seems to be a decade or two behind the research. the topics i see being researched now that will probably leak down into general educational practice are the testing effect and findings on disfluency, as well as metacognitive research, such as comprehension calibration. the testing effect shows that taking repeated tests (without feedback) is more effective for learning than repeated studying. findings on disfluency show that barriers to comprehension, when overcome (such as font, syntax/etc, distribution of information across several sources) aid in engendering comprehension and analytic thinking. i think the metacognitive research needs some more work to be more relevant, but people are notoriously bad at assessing their own comprehension (which is called calibration).

so, let's be a bit more fair... the world was not as you wanted it when you were a child. work to make it how you want, but i think it is likely that your teachers did their best compared to what was known at the time, and i although i agree with your general sentiment, i don't think that you really have an accurate idea of how to propose an alternative. incidentally, i don't the general fields of cognitive and instructional sciences would have anything else to offer, either.

all are three are exactly opposite the best (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38860301)

"all are three are exactly opposite the best strategies" ? Really? WTF mate, are editors really lacking so much in basic English skills? Or are they just being lazy?

"all three are the exact opposite of the best strategies...".
There, fixed that for you.

I know this is Slashdot, but man... and I am not even a native speaker...

Fp doll (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38860303)

It's best to trY world's Gay Nigger

I rarely ever took notes (3, Informative)

tbird81 (946205) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860359)

I'm sure I was the only one in lecture theatres of 180 people.

Nearly every lecture gave handouts, so that was my material for revision. If the lecturer said something else, I'd probably remember it because I was thinking about what was said instead of writing down information that's already in any textbook. Even if I didn't, the exams came from the notes not what the lecturer said - they don't want to have some undergrad whining that the exam had something not taught in class, so making the exam from the lecture handouts is good defensive education.

I understand other subjects are different, but for all undergrad science classes, I'd advise not taking notes. Everything you learn will be in textbooks and handouts, (or the Khan Academy) and you're better off sitting there listening, than you are exercising your hand and wasting paper. (Leave the hand exercises and paper wastage to some other time, a crowded lecture theatre isn't the place.)

Re:I rarely ever took notes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38860583)

(Leave the hand exercises and paper wastage to some other time, a crowded lecture theatre isn't the place.)

Heh good one. "Hand exercises". Haven't heard it being called that before.

I take notes all the time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38860649)

Writing things down has the effect of sticking them into my brain. I don't typically refer to the notes again, but I do remember better having written them down. I think it's a matter of whether or not people are applying their brains when they are writing things down. I think many people are on autopilot and anything that goes in their ears goes on paper. I try to see how things fit in the larger picture and organize my notes around that picture. It's possible I'm missing things in the lectures, but straight A's so far and I feel I have a good grasp of the subject matters.

Mnemosyne / Super Memo (3, Informative)

Spodi (2259976) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860365)

I have had sub-par memory for as long as I can remember. I'm only 23 and things will probably only get worse in the future, so I spend a few minutes every day doing some memorization using Mnemosyne [mnemosyne-proj.org] (free), which uses the SuperMemo [wikipedia.org] algorithm, which seems to be similar to the concepts mention in TFA. It is quite amazing for remembering flash-card style items long-term, and a great memory exercise. Anyone interested in improving their own memory, I recommend checking this out.

Slashdot Proofread The Damn Summaries! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38860371)

"all are three are"

The learning assumption (4, Insightful)

loteck (533317) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860383)

The problem with this approach is that it assumes students are in class to learn.

But that's not the system we live in.

Increasingly, students are in class to memorize material so that they can quickly recall it on one of many tests.

Tests. Memory. That's what we're teaching to these days. Not learning. Key difference.

Re:The learning assumption (2)

Solandri (704621) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860541)

Increasingly, students are in class to memorize material so that they can quickly recall it on one of many tests.

I know that's a popular meme these days, but it's not entirely accurate.

The point, at least in technical courses like math and science, isn't to force students to memorize material. It's to give them so much material that it becomes easier to understand it rather than memorize it. You can memorize the multiplication table, or you can understand the concept of multiplication so you know how to multiply two arbitrary numbers.

For certain small values, memorization is more effective. For everything else, understanding works better. Both are learning. And usually it's best to leave it up to the student to decide what to memorize and what to understand. Someone may have difficulty understanding abstract concepts, but be a genius at memorizing every trivial piece of info he runs across. Another may have a sucky memory, but be a genius at figuring out and understanding difficult concepts. Learning the best way your brain learns is also a part of learning.

Re:The learning assumption (1)

niftydude (1745144) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860567)

Exactly - at the university level, I never studied to learn - I studied to pass exams.

One week after the exam, there is no way I'd retain enough knowledge to sit and pass it again, but I didn't care.

And that system of cramming worked well enough that I graduated with 1st class honours...

Presentations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38860411)

When I learn something new I like to give a presentation about it. The audience is never real, and I don't put PowerPoint slides together, but spending ten minutes pretending to explain what I just learned has been an invaluable technique for me.

Poultry Science memories (5, Interesting)

EdwinFreed (1084059) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860427)

As the newest math professor in the department, of course I was lowest of the low. I was informed that there was no classroom available in the classroom building and I had to choose between one in Animal Husbandry and Poultry Science. In a moment of true quantum stupidity I chose the one in Poultry Science because it was closer to my office.

The classroom sat adjacent to a room that contained hundreds of chickens, maybe more. You had to smell it to believe it. Of course the students complained but there was nothing I could do.

The class actually did quite well, that is, until the day of the final exam. When I got there to deliver the exam (which of course was being given at a different time) the door was locked and no key could be found. I was forced to walk the entire class over to the classroom building and give the exam in an empty classroom.

Checking the scores against the midterm, I found there had been a significant drop for almost every student. To this day I am convinced that the context change and the lack of that awful smell was as or more responsible for the difference than all the chaos leading up to taking the exam.

Re:Poultry Science memories (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860579)

Could it be sensory deprivation (the lack of the smell of chicken shit) that caused the drop?

Derive on the fly (4, Insightful)

LeDopore (898286) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860447)

There's a lot of talk as to what you should do while an after the prof is speaking, but so far very little has been said about what to do *before* the professor speaks it. During my Physics undergrad, I would challenge myself to try to derive results and formulas before the prof finished. I was often wrong, and I usually had to have my notes at least nudged along at least a few times per lecture, but trying to derive on the fly is an awesome way to learn something. There's nothing quite like figuring out a problem by yourself to have it really gel with your overall understanding.

That's my advice: rather than just trying to learn, as much as possible *do your own thinking* in class and you'll be amazed at how little you have to work later to recall it.

Recorded lectures (2)

slimjim8094 (941042) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860535)

As a current CS major at a school you've heard of, I don't take notes. Ever. Sometimes it hurts, sometimes it helps, but I find that if I take notes, I lose the point of the lecture. Most of my professors were good enough that their lecture was a sort of a story, and if you paid attention and followed the story, you got more out of that than the the slides and the books. Of course, the books are usually quite helpful, more or less depending on the class, and most-to-all of my professors have posted slides online.

But the biggest help has been lecture recordings that they've started to do. You can watch the slideshow, synchronized with the lecture, and it's a huge help. If you miss something during lecture, you can go and watch that section with the book or reference materials open, pause, rewind, etc. It removes the time constraint, and seems to be making a big difference.

A More Detailed Guide to Studying (5, Informative)

bgoffe (1501287) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860539)

For a more general set of suggestions on study skills based on cognitive science, see "How to Get the Most Out of Studying Video Series" [youtube.com] . This is by Steve Chew, who was recently named a "U.S. Professor of the Year" for his teaching ability. For something printed, but not as detailed, see his "Improving Classroom Performance by Challenging Student Misconceptions About Learning" [psychologicalscience.org] . I recommend the video to all my students (I'm a college economics professor).

There's actually a simpler explanation (2)

hey! (33014) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860615)

of the value of interleaving at least when it comes to learning an athletic skill like serving a tennis ball.

Suppose on Monday only had time to practice your serve twenty times. You'd put all your mental and physical resources into each attempt. Now suppose on Tuesday you had plenty of time, so you set out to do a *thousand* serves. Would your first twenty serves on Tuesday look anything like the twenty you did on Monday? Of course not. You know darn well you've got 980 more to go, so you *hold back*.

The net result of over-practicing any skill this way is that you end up drilling in lazy and sloppy habits. It always feel virtuous to put in a long session at something, but that's easy virtue that everybody can demonstrate under pressure. Consistent practice of moderate duration and extremely high quality has no substitute.

Interleaving a series of drills works better because you exploit fresh muscles and balance repetition with mental stimulation, which is also critical to learning.

Consistency is a virtue in academic study as well, although if you are being genuinely productive it doesn't hurt to keep working as long as it last. But being in the zone is nothing like forcing yourself to cram at the last minute. One is about exploiting an opportunity, another is about making up for lost opportunities.

Applies to Teaching too. (4, Informative)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#38860661)

When I teach, I prepare a set of lecture notes, mostly an outline with key details. I leave room for notes. Then I give the students a copy of those at the start of the class. That way, they can listen and focus on understanding the information during the lecture. If they need to make some additional notes, they can add to the pre-printed lecture notes I handed out, but since the key points and details are already there, they don't need to add many notes. My experience is that students who spend too much time taking notes don't understand the material and don't remember it, so I make is easy for them to not spend time taking notes.

My classroom time is spent expanding upon the material, having discussions with the students, making sure the students understand it and how to apply it, doing hands on or thought experiments as appropriate, and refining my notes for the next class.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...