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How Students Learn

How Learning Works:

Learning is a complex process that builds on prior knowledge and requires spaced retrieval practices, reflection, and repetition. As an instructor, it is your responsibility to help your students navigate this process as they make their way through your course. Research shows that the human brain processes information through two modes of learning: Focused Mode and Diffused Mode. The brain alternates constantly between them, with both modes complementing each other while playing a vital role in information processing and retention.

  • Focused Mode: When the brain uses energy to concentrate on the information received. 
  • Diffused Mode: When the brain breaks that focused mode and wanders into random thoughts

Watch the Faculty Center training calendar for workshops on How Learning Works?

TOP 5 Tips on Learning and Student Success:

Here are the Faculty Center’s  top five tips on learning and how you can improve student success:

  • Learning builds on prior knowledge
  • Be aware of the novice vs expert trap 
  • Added value and motivation stimulate learning 
  • Understand that mastery requires time and practice
  • Clear, intentional, and active communication leads to deeper learning and student success

SQ4R Method:

This method of studying is based on well-established principles of learning and findings from cognitive psychology.

  • Survey – Take a look at the material; skim the chapter headings, the boldface words, and read the outline summary.
  • Questions – Create questions about the things you found in the preview. Often, you can transform a section heading into a question.
  • Read – As you read, try to answer the questions you developed. Make notes as you read. Understand the vocabulary. What is thought about while reading greatly predicts what is learned.
  • Record – Write down succinct notes of ideas, facts, and details. This established the cue for immediate and future recall and review.
  • Recite – Say around the material and put it into your own words.
  • Review – Try to recall the material and test yourself. Ask yourself the what, why and how questions.

adapted and modified from educationalblueprints ( n.d.)Pocket Guide for Evidence-Based Instruction: SQ4R

Last updated: 9/27/2023