For years the rules of good studying habits have remained consistent: find a quiet work place, stay focused, and stick to a schedule. Now however, many cognitive scientists are finding that the results of actual study assessments are contradicting some of these well-known approaches to learning. For example, studying in multiple locations has been proven to actually help the brain retain information because changing settings forces the brain to make multiple associations with the same material, giving that information more “neural scaffolding.” Along with changing location, scientists also found that varying the type of material studied in one setting can leave a deeper impression. This is already seen in a number of studying techniques not related to schooling, like the practice sessions of musicians, which normally include scales, musical pieces and rhythmic work, as well as the practice techniques of athletes who often mix their workouts with speed, strength, and skill drills. Today, with all the information available regarding positive and successful study habits however, the mystery of reinforced faulty learning still remains. “We have known these principles for some time, and it’s intriguing that schools don’t pick them up, or that people don’t learn them by trial and error,” states Robert A. Bjork, a psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, “Instead, we walk around with all sorts of unexamined beliefs about what works that are mistaken.” Cognitive scientists hope that this will start to change and believe that presenting people with a study plan based on evidence, and not schoolyard myth, or unproven theorizing is the first step toward making these changes.
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