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Struggling with Learning New Topics

  1. May 22, 2012 #1

    I have had this problem for quite a long time. Personally, I like to think I am semi-intelligent, I have the ability to pick up things quite easily. I have always struggled with the retention of knowledge though, if I don't spend an intolerable amount of time committing it memory I will just forget it.

    This is a issue for me because I am trying to self teach myself new topics at a rather rapid speed; and its rather demoralizing.
    Hopefully, reading this you will kind of understand what I am talking about. Unless you are one of them people who have an annoying good memory.

    If not my question is this: is rote learning the only way to memorize such things as formulae, programming syntax,algorithms or any other example you can think of.
    A issue that exacerbates this is my tendency for procrastination. They seem to compliment each other, making it even harder to learn.
    Is there anyone who has a similar problem who has managed to circumnavigate this? Its like I have hit a road block.

    PS: It is 23:55, my sentences are a lot more readable than this... usually!
  2. jcsd
  3. May 22, 2012 #2
    Perhaps slow down a bit?

    If you want to learn a physics formula, use it to solve some physics problems. If you want to learn programming syntax, write some programs. Don't simply memorize.
  4. May 22, 2012 #3
    I was expecting a response like this.
    There was a tiny bit in me that was hoping for some magic method for studying. Guess I should just invest some time in learning what learning style is most efficient for me.
  5. May 22, 2012 #4


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    Hey adam277 and welcome to the forums.

    The best I think in order to learn something is force yourself to comprehend it.

    Comprehension can be achieved in many ways. One way is to practice it. Another way is to discuss it and break it down. Other ways include internal comprehension where you look at something and break it down in your mind in a true comprehensive way (not just memorizing). Another way is teach something.

    Whatever the method, it must involve comprehension of some kind and the harder the comprehension, the deeper the understanding that will be obtained.

    So yes while just doing say programming or math problems and so on is ultimately a good way to do this, other things like discussing problems, teaching concepts and so on also enhance and strengthen comprehension. Reading forums like this with questions and responses also strengthens comprehension as well. You can also throw blogs and other kinds of similar things into the mix alongside the above.
  6. May 22, 2012 #5


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    I'm dealing with the same issue as you. My advice is to review the material everyday. Review it, then put your textbook and notes away and just write down everything you know about the subject you've just studied, as if you were writing a blog post. Being able to explain things in your own words enhances comprehension greatly.
  7. May 23, 2012 #6
    I don't know if this will work with you but I've discovered that learning in some sort of somatic way like writing, or whatever that is physically engaging enough, about what you are learning by yourself helps. Doing it this way might be slow but for some reason it does the work of drilling the stuff into my head significantly easier than just passively reading the textbook (it does not mean I will never forget what I've learned). Especially if it's a derivation/proof, I usually go ahead and get a piece of paper and try to derive/prove ahead of the book.

    This might be of help along with the other advices.

    Edit: I just noticed, what I've wrote overlaps with the advice given by the poster above.
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