Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Don't Memorize, Internalize - Studying For Final Exams

Source: Column Five Media
Our students are currently taking their final exams. During the past few weeks, we've wondered often about the distinctions between "studying," "reviewing," and "reminding" -- since theoretically, the students have already learned all of this information earlier in the year.

Truthfully, exam review week should be a springboard into the next academic year. It should provide a thematic culmination of the year's "big picture" ideas. It should give kids a few "ah ha!" moments to realize how much they've learned over the course of their semesters. Exam review should be an exercise in how to internalize information and produce new connections.

One of our favorite design firms, Column Five Media, has produced a motion infographic that addresses this exact notion. Entitled "How To Generate Good Ideas," this short, animated film recognizes that "the capacity to collect and organize information in new ways is built into the human brain." For students, this means identifying the best avenue toward personalized learning, while still combining external stimuli into a cohesive comprehension. As the clip asks, "how do we improve the chances that our [mental] prisms generate good ideas more often?"


How to Generate Good Ideas from Column Five on Vimeo.

The video pinpoints five ways to foster understanding:
  1. Consider the physical space, and place yourself in a
    pleasing and healthy environment
  2. Practice methods of retention to store information
    and reinforce associations
  3. Put ideas to the test by soliciting feedback from
    mentors of all cognitive types
  4. Continue the pursuit of knowledge and study, no matter
    how many times you fail
  5. When an idea or a goal becomes a reality, analyze
    what worked successfully
Source: Column Five Media
These study suggestions remind us of Steven Johnson's excellent work, Where Good Ideas Come From. His book is a fascinating survey of the factors that spark innovation and success. If you haven't yet read it, it's a great paperback for a summer reading list.

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