How to improve your learning: wisdom from the class of 2015

In the last class of last year, I asked the students to write a postcard to the person they were 15 long weeks earlier, at the start of semester. I wanted to know the lessons graduating SC200 students would tell themselves if they had a chance to go back in time and start the class again. I asked them to advise themselves on how to learn better and how to get a better grade.

Most (85%) of the advice on how to learn better on the course fell into the following five responses.

  1. Take more and better notes.
    • Focus on overall concepts not details
    • Outline notes and focus on terms
  2. Pay more attention in class.
    • Turn off phone/no texting in class
    • Sit closer to the front
    • Focus more
    • Don’t sit with friends
  3.  Ask more questions.
    • Meet with TAs
    • Go to review sessions
  4. Come to all classes.
  5. Study more between tests
    • Review notes.

Hindsight is a fine thing, of course, but it was eye-opening to me to get back from the students all the stuff I told them at the start of the semester.

I talked about all that with the class of 2016, explaining that its not just my advice but also the advice of the graduating students. We’ll see if the ghosts of students past make more of an impact than I do.

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