Study Habits – Study Smarter?

The New York Times recently had an article Want to Study Smarter? It was adapted on

Overall, I read this article and came out with a ” I don’t know if this is a good article” attitude. I think this is an poorly crafted article that is very mixed in content.

The first part of the article lumps info about learning styles and combines concepts of left vs. right brain (which has generally been disputed – I concur) and then includes visual learners in the same sentence. I believe from my observations, earlier NSGCD education and recent additional training in Coach Approach there are better learning styles that go with certain students. I think the basics of auditory, kinesthetic/tactile and visual are the obvious ones. The author includes this painful quote – “The contrast between the enormous popularity of the learning-styles approach within education and the lack of credible evidence for its utility is, in our opinion, striking and disturbing,” the researchers concluded. This was pulled from the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest.

Do we really believe  that learning styles should not be a consideration in working with our clients? Maybe the research has not been done, but is that to say that working with clients using their preferred learning styles is not effective.

The second part – (Get a move on) suggests using different locations to study instead of one is a good thing, I think we might try that with our on-site clients when going through certain tasks to provide variety if they seem to be getting stuck. We could also try asking our coaching phone clients to use a different location to make our coaching calls.

The one part in the Get a Move On section that caught my attention was conceptual subject learning when individuals are shown paintings of one artist – to understand the artists individual style vs. being shown mixed artist art and comprehending and distinguishing the nuances faster. I wonder how this applies to our client’s categorization of their stuff and objects?

In an experiment published last month in the journal Psychology and Aging, researchers found that college students and adults of retirement age were better able to distinguish the painting styles of 12 unfamiliar artists after viewing mixed collections (assortments, including works from all 12) than after viewing a dozen works from one artist, all together, then moving on to the next painter.

“What seems to be happening in this case is that the brain is picking up deeper patterns when seeing assortments of paintings; it’s picking up what’s similar and what’s different about them,” often subconsciously.

The third part of the article (Cram it In) is stating that cramming is good for passing tests but not for long term retention. This has been known for a long time. The suitcase metaphor is a good one though.

What are your thoughts?

1 Comment

Filed under Books to Read, Knowledge, Organizing, Productivity, Techniques, Terms, Thinking, Time

One response to “Study Habits – Study Smarter?

  1. Fred

    I share Terry’s concern on this article. To me the bottom line is this: Learning and teaching are ARTS, and they must be adapted to the individual needs and styles of each person if you’re teaching someone. (A wise comment to me from a veteran teacher was, “You teach from your personality”. Ergo – it’s an art). I know this from mentoring beginning Toastmasters, which is perhaps at least somewhat analogous if you’re a professional working with the chronically disorganized. You cannot use a cookbook approach. You must have sufficiently mastered the concepts of giving speeches (Toastmasters) or organization (NSGCD) to adapt to the needs and “learning styles” of the client you’re trying to help. If you’re learning by yourself, you must find what makes sense to you and develop your own inner voice so that you develop the self confidence to handle “mixed set” problems (as the article mentions) that are thrown you’re way to solve, or indeed create the mixed set problems for others to solve! As a former math-science school teacher, I was also supposed to test students’ reading of various novels. The experienced teacher I was working with told me just to give an easy (for the teacher to prepare) oral test. This test would be for auditory learners!! As a visual learner myself (I MUST take notes to understand a lecture), I refused to give oral tests because I myself am a visual learner. So I caused myself several extra hours of work each week to create my own custom made written tests on the novel readings. Also another factor these researchers (how LONG have they actually been in the trenches as a teacher in a classroom?) ignore is that the theory behind learning styles is that it is based on Multiple Intelligences by Howard Gardner of Yale University as a direct reaction to the Stanford Binet Tests. Multiple Intelligences interestingly enough was based on work observing idiot savants, who are genuises in one isolated area of intelligence (music, art, special, math, etc) but “idiots” or woefully deficient in all others. So these intelligences could be isolated. Today we are driven everywhere by numbers and quantifiable results that researchers can statistically manipulate. The truth is that much education is about the search and quest for knowledge, of reading widely from many different sources and perspectives to master the concept and find your own unique perspective somewhere in the process. Art and learning cannot be totally quantified; there’s the element of the qualitative to it. You can sense the beautiful qualitative dimension in the enthusiasm and engagement of the students who are truly learning – which transcends grades and artificial markers which have pervasively institutionalized gross mediocrity in our educational systems. I suggest Stephen Covey’s book on the 8th Habit of Highly Effective People, that addresses this concern of the Inner Voice and achieving greatness.

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