Learn from the 'Neurds': Learning Strategies for Students
For centuries, students, professors, and teachers have collectively wondered about the most effective and efficient learning method. While the research behind learning techniques is complex, it is clear that people have different "learning styles". Learning styles were first introduced by Felder and Silverman in 1988 and refer to the individual preferences and strengths in which an individual learns (1). Although research has shown that matching the learning style with teaching style is not efficient, we can use the Felder-Silverman model to help us identify our preferences and incorporate this into our study techniques, which can be incredibly helpful (2).
Utilizing four different scales, the Felder-Silverman model is an excellent resource in identifying your preferred learning style (2). While each scale provided bipolar prospects, students may use each prospect at different times and scenarios. Identifying your confidence in using each scale and what scenario best suits this prospect will be your key to success.
Here I summarize the key points for each scale of the Felder-Silverman model (2). I also provide the studying technique that helped each of the "Neurds" of this blog become the recipient of either a Senate Medal of Outstanding Academic Achievement (given to the top 3% of the Neuroscience graduates) or the University Medal in Science (the top 1% of graduating students in the Faculty of Science):
Now, how did all of us Neurds end up with a medal for our academic achievements? Well, we all worked immensely hard, but, I for one, credit our weekly study group for my success.
Every week the "Neurds" would meet in a study room where one of us provided questions for the week's lecture. These questions were created based on the course's lecture slides. These questions were curated by asking ourselves, "On this slide, what might the professor ask about this on an exam?". We would then upload these questions to an excel sheet with the answers hidden in the column next to the question.
At these study sessions, we would go through each question, talk through the answers, and see if we were correct. If someone knew the content well, they could teach the other "Neurds". If none of us knew the answer, we would work together to develop a way to learn and remember the correct answer. As you go through each question, you can designate questions you knew well by highlighting them in one colour and highlighting in another colour the ones you didn't know for easy access to study material later.
To make recall even more challenging, we would randomize the questions so that the order would not impact the recall of answers.
Not only was this study technique super effective for the "Neurds," but it also got us studying earlier and staying on top of lecture content by scheduling these weekly study sessions and designating one member to create the questions.
We are so proud of our study strategy and hope it inspires you to do something similar!
R.M. Felder and L.K. Silverman. (1988) "Learning and Teaching Styles in Engineering Education," Engr. Education, 78(7), 674-681.
R. Felder and B. Soloman. (2002). Learning Styles and Strategies.
Blog by Tanisse Teale