How teens learn

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Positive Parenting -

HELP­ING teenagers mem­o­rise school work is of­ten a chal­lenge be­cause con­stant ex­ams, long study ses­sions and repet­i­tive ex­er­cises can leave them de­mo­ti­vated. Yet stud­ies show that by mak­ing small changes, teens can re­mem­ber bet­ter.

> Mix it up: While con­sis­tency is seen as im­por­tant for study – like us­ing the same desk, study­ing ev­ery­day, or us­ing the same pen – every time a thing is done dif­fer­ently, the mem­ory is en­riched and made eas­ier to re­call in the fu­ture.

So study­ing out­side, talk­ing about work with friends, tak­ing au­dio notes in­stead of writ­ing them down can make a dif­fer­ence.

Teenagers are en­cour­aged to do this by al­low­ing them to lis­ten to mu­sic for part of their study time, invit­ing their friends to study with them at home, or help­ing them to write a study sched­ule with dif­fer­ent times and places for study ses­sions.

> Take a break: Many sci­en­tific stud­ies show that the brain con­tin­ues work­ing on a prob­lem long af­ter you have stopped work­ing on it. In fact, the brain may work bet­ter when think­ing about some­thing else.

If a stu­dent is strug­gling with an ex­er­cise, en­cour­age him to take a break. Dur­ing the break he can chat with friends, play sports, have a meal, or what­ever else he wants.

In this time, his sub­con­scious­ness works on the prob­lem, and when he con­sciously starts on the prob­lem again, he would have a clearer idea on how to solve it.

> Re­view not only dif­fi­cult stuff: Peo­ple of­ten be­lieve they will al­ways know some­thing be­cause they know it at that mo­ment.

This is called “the flu­ency trap” and can cause prob­lems when the need to re­mem­ber in­for­ma­tion long af­ter it was last re­viewed arises.

Teens of­ten suf­fer this prob­lem when choos­ing what to study, for they feel if they al­ready know the sub­ject, they will surely re­mem­ber that for the test. En­cour­age them to re­vise all their class work a few weeks af­ter­wards, even sub­jects they think they are done with, and space out the study ses­sions so they can see where the gaps in their knowl­edge are.

> The power of test­ing: Peo­ple of­ten think read­ing and mak­ing notes are the best ways to learn ma­te­rial. Psy­chol­o­gists now be­lieve test­ing ac­tu­ally helps stu­dents re­mem­ber. Be­ing in a test sit­u­a­tion re­quires more brain­power than sit­ting and mem­o­ris­ing, thus strength­ens the mem­ory. There are web­sites that Bri­tish Coun­cil’s tech-savvy teens can use to make re­vi­sion tests for them­selves.

Or they can visit www.lear­nenglish­teens. british­coun­cil.org where they can quickly com­plete short tests af­ter each study ses­sion.

Giv­ing stu­dents short quizzes and tests, con­stantly re­view­ing work from pre­vi­ous weeks, and even get­ting stu­dents to sit in dif­fer­ent places, all en­rich their mem­ory of English and make the classes more en­joy­able.

The par­ent work­shop will be held on Aug 5 and 6 fo­cus­ing more on how teenagers learn, and how teach­ers and par­ents can help them in their stud­ies.

Sign up at www.british­coun­cil.my/events/ young-learner-events.

■ For more in­for­ma­tion, look out for the ad­ver­tise­ment in this StarSpe­cial.

Be­ing in a test sit­u­a­tion re­quires more brain­power than sit­ting and mem­o­ris­ing.

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