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How do you learn best? What is your style?

  1. Oct 19, 2013 #1
    To learn a science concept, I need to see real world examples (common stuff too so nothing far off for the common fellow) to understand it. When I read an explanation of the concept, I will be able to understand it a bit but not truly grasp what it truly means and the implications of it unless I get an example of it in use.

    For example, I'm currently studying the chapter of General Chemistry on States of Matter: Liquids and Solids and the the section of heats or vaporization and heat of fusion. I understood what they meant but it wouldn't stick well. It only finally stuck once I saw the example about how a refrigerator works (A fluid such as ammonia or CCl2F2 is compressed into liquid state and then when released, it turns into a gas. When it turns into a gas due to the released pressure, it absorbs heat is also the heat released by a freezing tray of ice.) there was also an example of this in use to calculated how much CCli2F2 was required to freeze a certain amount of water. At this point, I finally got it and it all clicked into place. When textbooks lack real world examples or enough of them, I instead search online for examples of applications and uses of various concepts. Sometimes its hard to do so, especially to find it in a simple form but it's worth it when I can say "Oh! So that's how it works". I like to learn applied knowledge. I suppose that why I'm so drawn to engineering rather than a hard science major.

    Drawing on learning by example and applications, I have to do practice problems to learn something well. I suppose that's teh case for most. When going through example problems, I make a point to carefully study each step and to find out why and how. Previously, I've always had problems with science questions that connected many concepts. However, by taking the time to study each step, my problem solving skills improved dramatically. This too is quite time consuming than the standard approach that some have of simply working through a problem and following some sort of pattern to solve a certain type fo problem. However, it's the approach that works best for me.

    When working on practice problems, I learn best with instant feedback. For example, my courses use Webassign and the system called LONCAPA. We read a problem on the site then solve it and enter it into the website. After entering it, we are immediately told whether or not the answer is right or wrong. This instant feedback is really encouraging even if I get the answer wrong. The knowledge that I will immediately no tht I've made a mistake gives me confidence that I can immediately go back to fix my work and answer while all my thought processes are still fresh.

    Another way that I learn is by analogy. Even if I get a concept, an analogy makes it stick. For example, I related the vaporization and vapor pressures to a bunch of people at a party. The analogy stuck and made the concept very vivid and clear. This makes me go through the textbook slower than some people, maybe most, but it ensures that I can visualize the concept. Another bonus is that this makes the process of reading a textbook partly a creative effort so it's quite fun in some ways.

    Unforunately, I'm a bit of a procrastinator when a computer is around. If I didn't procrastinate, I'd ahhve far more time to work with and these study methods would yield far better results.

    How do you learn and study?

    In my opinion, colleges, highschool and middle school even, are not doing enough to accomodate for the variety of learning styles. Some are tactile learners while others are auditory while others yet are visual.
  2. jcsd
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