The Study Dude—Gold for Teachers & Students

Here are nuggets of gold for both teachers and students alike.  Stuck for ideas to improve your study habits, memory, or cognitive skills?  Or maybe you want to win teaching awards?  Well, how about mining your brain cells with the following tools?

Use visuals to teach and to learn.

Visuals aid in learning.  Often, when tucked into visuals, facts feel friendly and easy to digest: “Instead of embedding facts into a paragraph, it’s helpful to use the following tools: charts … diagrams … tables and lists” (Shillington, p.  51 of 72, 68%).  My prof from grad studies used a circular diagram to showcase his research finding.  He said the diagrams he used were limited to the ones in Microsoft.  He might’ve toyed with using software over-and-above Microsoft—software that simplifies visualization, whether through infographics, tree diagrams, or other imagery.  The more diverse your visualization software, the better your ability to communicate.

Try getting software tools to help structure your research.

A qualitative data analysis software package will enable you to code themes and subthemes based on your data (such as interviews, focus groups, Web pages, and so forth).  With the software, you can model your data, make connections, organize and sort data, and much more. Nvivo is one such package that’s well known, but there are other alternatives, and some are free.

Repeat information in multiple ways.

“Learners will retain facts more easily if you provide plenty of practice to allow the brain to process the facts multiple times” (Shillington, p.  51 of 72, 69%).  Marketing theory says people need to be exposed to a message seven times: “the Rule of 7 is a marketing principle that states that your prospects need to come across your offer at least seven times before they really notice it and start to take action” (Stevens, Oct.  27, 2018).  I believe the Rule of 7 holds for students.  In that case, memorize concepts seven times, edit your paper seven times, read the chapter seven times, do each math problems seven times.  If you’ve got the time, the “7” rule may cement your studies.

Use wild memory devices.

Visualize with wild imagery anything you need to memorize.  And use acronyms for words or concepts.  “It can be easier to remember facts when you associate them with something else.  If you took music lessons, maybe you remember learning ‘Every Good Boy Does Fine.’  Create your own mnemonic devices to help your learners” (Shillington, p.  51 of 72, 69%).

Add analogies.

My boyfriend mastered analogies.  He can hit home any concept by personalizing analogies to things that matter to you.  For instance, when he explains how corporate finance works, he’ll liken it to your passion for dance or cooking or whatever.  “It’s also effective to provide analogies, or examples that are closely related but are not part of the concept.  Analogies help the learner compare something they don’t know with something they already know” (Shillington, p.  52 of 72, 71%).

Seek textbooks that explain concepts in multiple ways.

At university, I relied on the textbooks more than on the lectures.  So, I made sure I enrolled in classes with top-notch texts.  Math and physics texts teach best when filled with multiple step-by-step examples.  One textbook on technical writing laid-out steps and plenty of examples for writing patents.  I achieved a near-perfect grade for that assignment.  But when the textbook taught topics with fewer examples, I floundered into B territory.  “Understanding a process helps learners know why certain steps are important or what specifically is important to them in each step” (Shillington, p.  52 of 72, 71%).

Sprinkle in stories when teaching or presenting.

“Storytelling gives online learners the chance to connect with the subject on a deeper level.  Real world examples put what they’re learning into context and simplifies the concept” (p.  57 of 72, 77%).  A VP of marketing whom I met said he had a singular focus: stories.  Stories scintillate more than data dumps.

So now that you’ve struck gold, go out and transmute those skills into higher grades and a career you desire.

Shillington, Sandra.  (2017).  Copywriter’s Toolbox Volume 1: The Step-by-Step Guide to Copywriting: Online Learning and Course Guide.  E-book.
Stevens, John.  (Updated October 27, 2018).  “The Rule of 7 Can Radically Grow Your Business.” The Balance SMB.  Retrieved April 22, 2019 from