Studying is tricky. You spend most of your school years yawning and yearning for the playground, and by the time you've finished school, you've just figured out how to get through the learning process.
Fast-forward a few years and -
"If only I could go back to school and actually do some studying!"
Sound familiar? You're not alone!
I was so bored at school. The rote memorisation left my mind swimming in meaningless words, dates, and concepts that just wouldn't sink in. Words kept swirling in front of my eyes, without ever sticking. I was a C student at best (not for languages though, we all have an area we're a "natural" at).
So it was a string of Ds, Cs, and one A (for linguistics). Except, of course, when PROJECTS were involved. This is where I shined, and I was not alone. I noticed early on at school that the teachers who involved creative thinking and putting knowledge into ACTION had the class hooked. Smartly so.
It took me 20 years to discover I LOVED learning, and I was actually good at it! Most of us are, in fact - but many of us just don't know HOW TO STUDY. I went from being an average C-grade student at school to becoming an education specialist and excelling at studying in all of my post-graduate specialisation courses.
Damn it. If only I could go back in time and use this to sail through school. Sadly, that's not possible. Instead, I made a career in helping others learn - specifically in the field of wellness, sports sciences, physical education and fitness. But HOW did I go from barely passing classes to finishing in the top percentile in advanced courses such as Harvard HMX Physiology?
Let me share some of my useful tips for studying, or just being ACE at your job.
LEARNING WITH CREATIVITY, in ACTION.
At BBS Training Academy, we love learning. And we love to help others to learn. We drive our learning experience through our Student Success initiatives. Even though our courses are aimed at wellness, training, team communications and athletic development, we use techniques and approaches that can be useful for ANY student, learner, teacher, coach, manager or just anyone who is feeling out of their depth.
The main focus is on using the learning experience as a creative outlet that you can put into action. We use three main points of reference that can be helpful to ANY learner; whether you're young, an adult, or a professional.
The Theory of Multiple Intelligences - Edward Gardner
Bloom's Taxonomy - Benjamin Bloom
Feynman Technique - Richard Feynman
While The Theory of Multiple Intelligences is a concept that promotes our individuality and the diversity of learning capabilities within each individual (which we look at in a separate article) - Bloom's Taxonomy and the Feynman Technique are approaches that can be used by ANYONE in any topic, vocation or industry and at any age. From early schooling all the way to PhDs, or just in improving your professional skill set in your current job.
But how does it work, and how do the best institutions put these tools into practice? Here are our favourite two examples:
Academics Example: Harvard Medical School/HMX Online Learning. What makes one academic institution better than another? The size of the campus? The number of books in the library? The stylish apparel on the school grounds? After having taken over 20 further learning courses in the last 10 years, I can say for sure that top academic institutions like Harvard HMX all include such a rich, varied learning experience that uses real cognitive science in practice to get you through their courses. They use ALL the learning tools in the kit to push you to the best of your abilities: from course materials to lectures, exam design and getting you to think creatively. I have genuinely never learned so well.
Professional Development Example: DHL Express. Continued Professional Development courses use this type of learning to develop their skill set in the workplace. Some companies even go as far as developing in-house development CPD courses to support and develop their workforce's skill set and personal development. The effort, care and expertise of DHL Express's gargantuan endeavour to develop their workforce's skills is part of their daily operations, their engagement activity program and of course, their stellar CIS in-house development program.
Learning for Practical Skills: Bloom's Taxonomy
What’s the difference between KNOWING SOMETHING and PUTTING YOUR KNOWLEDGE INTO PRACTICE? How will the material you learn in your CPD courses help you improve your professional skills? Bloom's Taxonomy is your “learning toolbox” that will help you identify the areas you have already mastered and the areas that you need to spend more time on. Bloom explored three areas of learning:
Cognitive, knowledge-based learning
Affective, emotional growth in the learning process
Psychomotor, action-based learning
At BBS Training Academy, we use our own adaptation of Bloom's Taxonomy, in conjunction with a holistic science approach to skillset development, as a way to help staff, coaches and team leaders develop expertise within their skill set based on developing a balance between the TOOLS of the job (technical skills) and GUIDELINES (role and industry best practice, as well as internal company procedures and style).
In order to put your knowledge into practice, our adapted Bloom's Taxonomy at Work can help you self-assess your skills based on your ability to work on different levels. We have adapted and categorised the levels of Bloom's Taxonomy into three areas of practical skills for the BBS Training Syllabus into Assistant, Executive and Leadership levels.
ASSISTANT LEVEL 1. Remember - Key concepts, names and techniques - without the need for understanding.
2. Understand - Decoding the information to understand how TOOLS and GUIDELINES work together to improve your professional skills.
3. Apply - How can you use these concepts to effect meaningful change in your role?
4. Analyse - Examining and breaking down information into components, determining how the different parts of the tools and guidelines relate to one another to develop skills and lead others.
5. Evaluate - At this stage, you can analyse, critique and compare to find and use the best tools for your goals. Different goals will need different tools… can you identify and adopt the right toolset you need for a particular goal or scenario?
6. Create - Now after we have remembered, understood, applied, analysed and evaluated, we are ready to create a training program and work towards a complex goal efficiently!
Studying Using the Feynman Technique
The Feynman Technique is an approach that we love to include as part of an interactive learning experience. It can be a helpful way to develop your own skills and approach to studying, for any topic or profession. We use the Feynman Technique to get us through the learning curve of Bloom's Taxonomy!
Richard Feynman was an American physicist who received a Nobel prize for his work in quantum electrodynamics. He was notorious for asking others to explain concepts in a simple language to test their understanding, and his passionate delivery brought to his talks and lectures visionaries such as Albert Einstein and Bill Gates. His unparalleled teaching style, condensed into 4 simple points, became known as “The best way to learn (almost) anything”.
(It's also how I intuitively studied when I was in primary school, lining up all my teddy bears in front of my play schoolroom... what a shame I didn't stick to this in middle/high school - I was onto something!)
Jonas Koblin at Sprouts Schools illustrates the concept clearly:
Feynman’s learning technique is effective for learning something new, deepening your understanding of what you already know, or helping you study for an exam.
The first step is to pick a topic you want to understand and start studying it.
Once you know what it is about, take a piece of paper and write about it, as if you’re teaching the idea to someone else. Ideally write and speak at the same time, just as a teacher does it on the blackboard. This makes you realise which parts you understand and where you still have gaps. Whenever you get stuck, go back to study and repeat that process until you have explained the whole topic from start to end.
When you’re done, repeat the process from the beginning, but this time simplify your language or use a graphic analogy to make a point.
If your explanation ends up wordy or confusing, you probably have not understood it well enough, so you should start again.
Thinking about an idea by explaining it makes this learning method very effective. Once you can explain an idea in simple language, you have deeply understood it and will remember it for a long time.
It's your turn now!
Whether it's one of our courses or anything else you are reading or studying, we sincerely wish you the very best to put your newfound knowledge into practice!
We hope that these tips have been useful and that you'll find a way to include them in your skill development process. Stay tuned for more articles and resources with BBS Training Academy.
Jessica Z. Christensen
BBS Training Academy Founder & Director