Webinars: Improve your study techniques at home

Webinar series in four parts with Björn Liljeqvist, MSc and author of popular handbooks on how to study. The webinars are given in English.

Improve your study techniques
Photo: Björns Liljeqvist

Learn more about study skills in time of quarantine, how to manage demanding course literature, strategies for improving memory and Q&A.

All webinars were recorded and are available for a limited period of time, on KI Play (log in with your KI ID).

Webinar 1

Home alone. Study skills in times of quarantine: Motivation, routines and keeping up the good work.

Webinar 2

Reading fast and slow. How to manage demanding course literature.

Webinar 3

Remember what you learn! Strategies for improving memory, like associations techniques and repetition systems for superior retention.

Webinar 4

Q&A! What do you need help with? What would you like to get better at? The last session gave students an opportunity to ask questions to Björn and see what he said.

Study tips from the webinars

Home alone. Study skills in times of quarantine: Motivation, routines and keeping up the good work

Tips:

  1. Keep your distance! That is, the distance between studying and doing other things. When the boundaries get blurred, the quality goes down. A quality study session is uninterrupted: It has a beginning, and end and a clear focus.
  2. Timeboxing: Set the alarm in your clock to 20-40 minutes, depending on what is manageable to you. Read and work without interruptions during this session. Take a quick break, before moving on to the next session. A number of study sessions like this forms a work day.
  3. Lots of stuff to do? Empty your mind into a list. The feeling that you have so much to do can make it hard to get started in the first place. Write down a list of what you need to accomplish today, and the rest of the week. Immediately you'll feel the relief, and the desire to get to work, now that you know what to do.
  4. Write a journal! A recognized good tool to deal with emotions and keeping up spirits. Note in particular what it is you learn each day.  When spending day after day alone, it helps to have something to keep track of. So keep track of what you learn and see it grow with every page in your diary.
  5. If you get stuck on something and can't get started: Settle for something simpler, smaller, but still in the right direction. Instead of constantly thinking about that thing you have to do, direct your attention to something attainable. That's usually when things start to roll and little by little we end up finishing the big tasks as well.

App tips: Google "block distractions", "pomodoro apps" and "habit builders".

Reading fast and slow. How to manage demanding course literature

Tips:

  1. "Should I really read this?" Read with intention and purpose: Ask yourself what it is you want to get from the text you're about to read. "I will read this chapter to find the answer to why ..." or "I am going to make a short summary of these pages." It's easy to read just for the sake of reading, but we get more quality when we state the reason for reading something.
  2. "Read from high above!" The table of contents is a wealth of information, short cuts to what the whole book is about, with all the important terms, the structure of the book. Introductions, summaries, review questions and similarly accessible information is highly valuable and a huge time saver. Make sure to get this general view of the whole book before going into details.
  3. Understanding is a gradual thing. Some texts "fight back" and resist us when we try to comprehend. To gently skim a text several times days before the close reading allows us to familiarize ourselves with it and prepare our minds.
  4. Deep, close reading is best done in a sequence of short 20-30 minute sessions interspersed with short breaks and repeated reviews. "What did I just read?" And don't settle with a vague feeling of having read something interesting. Recreate the content in your head or by taking notes, so that the knowledge becomes your own.
  5. Keep a pen in your hand while reading. Move it along the lines as you read, as a help for the eye and to build concentration, and as a reminder that this is serious reading, not only for joy. Mark important things and write down questions that arise.

Remember what you learn!

  1. Make memory connections
    To remember new facts, use your imagination. Allow yourself to think freely and out-of-the-box. Foreign words and names for example, what do they sound like to you? Do they remind you of anything you've seen before? When you connect something new to things you already have in your memory, a new memory is created. Example: citric acid reminds us of citrus fruits, aspartic acid sounds like sour Spartans.
  2. Tips for memorization
    Exaggerate in your mind! Make up vivid little stories and colourful scenes. Once we have learned something well, we no longer need these association images, it's just a help to make things stick. Memory and understanding go hand in hand. Start by learning the words and terminology and then move on to get the full picture.
  3. Retrospection
    To look back upon something we recently experienced and re-live it in the form of a mental little film is called retrospection. It enhances memories of lectures, lab sessions and anything that we took part in. A couple of minutes is enough, at the end of the day or in connection to a lecture. Any memories thus reviewed will last longer and more strongly in our minds.
  4. Short sessions, pause, repetition
    Our working memory is like a small cup that has to be emptied into the big bucket that is long term memory. When we study facts, we have to work in short sessions where we create memories in the form of clues and little stories and then we transfer them to a more durable memory. That happens when we test ourselves after a short break of about 10 minutes.
  5. Use spaced repetition
    After learning something, test yourself after ten minutes. Now you will remember it for another 24 hours. Test yourself again the next day - now you will remember it for a week. Test yourself after a week and you will remember it for a month. Give or take. This is called spaced repetition, to review or repeat something with increasing intervals or spaces, to create very strong memories.

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