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MYTH NO. 1: WE HAVE SET LEARNING STYLES
You’ve probably heard about visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning. In a survey of more than 3,000 Americans, nearly 90% of respondents believe it’s better to receive information in your personal learning style. But once you start thinking about the idea, it falls apart, says Boser.
How to really learn: Instead, match your content to the process, says Boser. “Students should learn music by listening to music, while students should learn reading by doing more reading,” he says.
MYTH NO. 2: REREADING MATERIAL IS A GOOD WAY TO LEARN
Before you go into an important meeting, you might refresh your memory by reviewing your notes or proposal, but this passive approach to learning won’t serve you well. While more than 80% of respondents in Boser’s study believed that rereading is a highly effective approach to learning, research suggests that the approach is flawed, says Boser. What works better is an active form of learning.
How to really learn: Instead of rereading, highlighting, or underlining important information, turn the information into a quiz.
MYTH NO. 4: YOUR FIRST ANSWER IS OFTEN THE RIGHT ANSWER
In school, many of us were taught that if you put an answer on a test you shouldn’t change it, but you’re actually better off reconsidering, says Boser.
How to really learn: While facts are important, how you use them is key. “To solve new problems and come up with ideas, you need analogies and systems of how things relate to each other,” he says.
MYTH NO. 5: THE NUMBER OF HOURS YOU PUT INTO SOMETHING TRANSLATES TO BETTER UNDERSTANDING
Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours theory provided a benchmark for becoming an expert, but this doesn’t necessarily translate to learning, says Boser. “Most of us drive every day, but most of us have not gotten better at driving,” he says. “Putting in a lot of hours doesn’t always mean you’ll become good at something.”
How to really learn: What works instead isn’t just time; it’s outside advice and input. For example, Boser hired a basketball coach to help him improve his game, and videotaped himself shooting baskets in the park.