My Realization of Learning New Stuff in A Wrong Way

My Realization of Learning New Stuff in A Wrong Way

Every journey begins with a first step. However, the path may not always be clear, and often you may feel lost. Unquestionably, I am no exception for taking this path. While I am doing my online learning, I sense I may have lost myself in the middle of the ocean. I feel that the voyage has been done hasty. Moreover, it seems that the hunger to learn felt like it was rushed to reach the shore.

For me, the world of self-learning felt like navigating through the treacherous waters of data science and computer science. At first, you did not know whether you were equipped the appropriate tools to maneuver the ship. You kind of have that notion: there’s no use in learning too much if there’s no action. At the same time, driving a car recklessly can also lead you to car accidents.

Then the realisation surfaced…

You might want to use science-backed methods to supercharge your studies. The affiliate link is right here.

In short, I felt that the shoreline kept moving further away. The faster I tried to learn, the quicker I was to forget. At the end of each day, I’d look back at my trail, only to realize I had forgotten most. It was like chasing the wind, futile and exhausting. Consequently, it led me to question – what is the point of learning if it doesn’t stick?

This realization came around May or June 2023. As I scrolled mindlessly for YouTube videos, I came across a video by Python Programmer Giles McMullen-Klein. He was like a wise old sailor who has weathered many a storm. (But there ain’t no sailors who talk in that British accent, mate!) He emphatically recommended the viewers to read the book “Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning.”

Master Your Studies: Six Science-Backed Techniques to Boost Learning

This is a simple concept map for the six methods. You can also improve your studies by drawing concept maps.

I’ve got a confession to make: English is not my first language. And I usually spend quite some time to finish reading books. But if you’re short on time, here’s the study that also encapsulates the whole book. Here’s a list of the 6 learning methods you can use for your studies:

  • Spaced practice
  • Interleaving study
  • Retrieval practice
  • Elaboration
  • Concrete examples
  • Dual coding

Don’t have time to read the study? Here’s the rundown for the first three methods!

Spaced practice, in essence, is the opposite of cramming. Traditionally, we are taught to finish the lessons at schools in a very quick pace. However, what if I tell you that it is the least effective way to pick up new concepts? Instead, why don’t you give yourself more time to absorb the lesson? There are some practical things you can do, such as review your lessons from time to time. Up for challenges? Use homework or projects to test yourself. Nonetheless, don’t make learning as something that is too complicated or too easy

Moving on to interleaving study: if you are a teacher, think of it as a way to remix your lessons. In order words, you can learn several topics during your spare time, but you don’t want to get yourself distracted. The aim of this method is to test yourself whether you understand the underlying principles of the lesson and know how to use them in some situations.

Thirdly, let’s talk about retrieval practice. When you learn something, you basically put that thing in your brains. Now the challenge is you’ve got to retrieve it from your brains! One of the easiest ways to do this is to use flashcards. Remember that this is not rote learning; your job is just to “take that book from your bookcase!” And it’s okay to make mistakes! This is, by far, the most practical method for self-study students.

Retrieval Practice: My Secret Weapon for Mastering New Skills

Giles in his video introduced me to ‘retrieval practice,’ a term that echoed through my learning journey. By the time I encountered this ‘retrieval practice,’ I was halfway through a Udemy course on Tableau and a Linux book. I felt unsettled as I realised that my previous learning methods were just like trying to row a boat on a dry land. As a result, I decided it was time to change the way I learn new skills. To learn effectively, this means I’ve got to delay posting my portfolio and working on other projects.

To incorporate retrieval practice into my learning, I began to use flashcards, a simple yet powerful tool for reinforcing information. Anki, in particular, became my trusted first mate in this endeavour, offering its versatile flashcard app across multiple platforms. You can install Anki on Windows, Mac, Android, iPhones, and even Linux distros! But here’s the caveat: this means I am going to spend more time for studying, and I’ll keep delaying on publishing my portfolio. But it will be worth it because the time and effort I invest in picking up the new skills will give me a compound interest.

Lemme get that thing from my brains…
Anki’s interface on Linux

Deepening Understanding: Elaboration, Concrete Examples, and Dual Coding

Humans are just not good at doing repetition, but there’s no limit in elaboration since you can do this with your own words. Elaboration is basically to incorporate what you have already known and explain the concepts in with your words. Think of it as a way to practice your paraphrase and writing skills. Indeed, this might also be one of the reasons why I start writing blogs. I want to explain the things I learn on my website.

Students at schools just understand their lessons better when they are given concrete examples. We can put it this way: you can learn SQL, Python, C# and so on, but it will be way better if you know when you can use these languages directly in your daily drive. But here’s the catch: there is a body of evidence that the given examples can distract you from your studies, so you do not want to overemphasize learning examples.

Dual coding: The term here may sound fancy, but it’s not that complicated. Whenever you read textbooks, you will be given some pictures, diagrams or charts to help you understand some concepts. This pairing of illustrations and texts is known as dual coding. It makes sense because pictures can help to simplify a lengthy reading text, but relying too much on pictures can also mislead students.

Time to Embark the Journey with a New

If you too find yourself lost while learning on your own, remember this – it’s okay to slow down. Changing learning habits is like altering the course of a ship. It takes time, but the rewards are worth the patience. Moving forward, I plan to remix the lessons using interleaving, quiz myself more often to reinforce information, and practise spaced learning to avoid cramming. I hope to use my portfolio as a logbook of my spaced learning journey.

Anki has proven to be an invaluable resource in implementing these techniques, and I highly recommend it to anyone embarking on a similar journey. For those considering a career change or seeking to further their studies, remember, it’s not about reaching the destination quickly; it’s about making the journey worthwhile.

Chart your course, adjust your sails, and let the wind guide you. After all, in the quest for knowledge, we are all explorers. Happy sailing!

Raymond Yeoh

Hi there! Welcome to 'Biryani Bytes.' This isn't simply a showcase of my tech expertise. It's much more—it's a journey, a quest for a better life, chronicled here on this digital platform. 'Biryani Bytes' brings together tech chatter and stories from Southeast Asia. It covers a wide range of topics, from the area's mouth-watering food, interesting travel spots, to handy tips on managing your finances, tech upgrades, and so on.

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