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Learning: Do You Need a Different Approach?


Have you ever wondered why you could learn some subjects easier than others?  Did you ever stop to consider how the material was presented to you when learning was at its peak?  You may have tried to “fit in a mold” and learn the same way that other students were learning or attempt to learn the same way that you have always been guided to learn.  However, we now know that what worked for you in high school and early college courses is probably not going to work for you in nursing school or graduate school.  Memorization, a common way of “learning”, often causes nursing students to fall short of the grade they want or need to be successful, because learning in nursing school requires a higher level of thinking.  But, there is good news!  The brain was not simply meant to memorize, it was meant to analyze as well, which is exactly the type learning that you need in nursing school and higher level courses!  

As we explore the concept of learning, you need to first understand that your brain is very different from the next student, and all students learn in very different ways!  Determining how you learn best is crucial for your success!  Felder and Brent (2005) reminds us you, as students, bring many differences with you to the classrooms, including your backgrounds, motivations, interests, ambitions, strengths, weaknesses, techniques for studying, and concepts about responsibility.

You may recall times that you learned something that went into your long term memory bank, and you were able to recall it and use this information much easier than other times.  These are those times that you were using your brain in the way that it was designed to be used!  Our brain is very complex and we only use a small part of it.  You will be surprised at how you will be able to recall things much easier when you use the right neurological pathway to facilitate your learning.  The skill used most in school for learning is called language processing.  It is used when listening to lecture, reading textbooks, taking tests, studying for tests, and even writing papers.  However, every student may have a different preference for how this language processing occurs. (Mollan-Masters 1992)

The degree of learning can be impacted not only by your aptitude and preparation, but also by the teaching style of the instructor and your individual learning style. Some of the primary learning styles that are widely recognized include visual, auditory, kinetic, and musical (Felder and Brent, 2005).  It is important for you to understand that there is true value from finding your individual learning style, because it helps you to use the right neurological pathway for optimal learning.  Therefore, investigate how you learn best, recognize what type learner that you are, and then seek ways to promote this style of learning.  It is amazing how simply doing these few things can enhance the learning process for you, allowing you to not simply memorize, but be able to recall and analyze the information as well! What a winning combination!      

 

References

Felder, R. M., & Brent, R. (2005).  Understanding student differences.  Journal of Engineering Education, 94 (1), 57-72. Retrieved from http://www4.ncsu.edu/unity/lockers/users/f/felder/public/Papers/Understanding_Differences.pdf

Mollan-Masters, Renee, You Are Smarter Than You Think, 2nd ed.Ashland,OR: Reality Productions: 1992

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