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7 Ways for Effective Practice Sessions and Better Learning Outcomes

From his humble beginning as a 16-year-old teenager facing mighty bowlers of Pakistan to becoming one of the greatest batsmen ever. The God of Cricket is also the epitome of practice and learning.

Sachin’s secret sauce for success was his never-say-no attitude towards practice and learning. Let’s look at ‘the art of Practice’ and how it can help you and your students to get better results.

In a review study from Rice University, Princeton University, and Michigan State University, researchers studied data from more than 11,000 participants. They found that “deliberate practice”, defined as performing structured activities designed specifically to improve results in a specific field, increases performance by as much as 26%. Practice literally makes perfect!

Before we get to practising techniques it is important that we set-up a cohesive environment. Get a good night’s sleep, practicing is a mentally exhausting activity, we must give our brains and bodies the time to collect this energy.

Better sleep habits are an important factor for better grades. Clear the clutter, or rather change the place every day. Clean spaces help the mind relax and focus our energy on practising and there are studies that support the idea of changing study places for better recall capacity of lessons.

Now that the stage is set, it's time for the main event.

There are many ways to practice, here are some of the best ones:

1. The survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review (SQ3R)

Reading is an important part of practice, students that read well remember more and write better answers in exams. Instead of reading word by word, skim through the chapters once. Note any headings, sub-topics, or infographics that catch your attention.

Use these notes to form questions about the chapter. Read through the chapter and look for the answer to your questions. After every major section, write a summary in your own words, recite to remember the concepts. Review your progress after every session and before beginning the next time. 2. The Feynman Method

Known for his contribution to the path integral formulation of quantum mechanics, the theory of quantum electrodynamics, and particle physics, Robert Feynman created a method to understand complex concepts.

Use the Feynman method for better learning, identify the topics you want to learn in a session, read on those topics and try and explain it to yourself as you would explain that to a five-year-old. This method removes the intimidating impression of learning and makes it easier to remember concepts.

3. Leitner System

Sebastian Leitner was a German scientist that believed in practising through repetition. By focusing on the material that you know least, this method increases your understanding of concepts over a period of time. Create a stack of cards with questions about important topics.

Shuffle through the cards and try and answer those questions, do not flip the card assuming you know the answer. Write down your answers and check after, keep the ones you got right at the back of the deck and keep the ones you got wrong in the front. The new order will force you to answer the questions about topics you don’t know well.

4. Mind Mapping

Mind mapping is a visual technique that allows you to revise and recall concepts from diagrams and web connections. Write the name of the chapter, topic, or subject as the centre of the page and start writing major ideas related to the centre element.

Connect the related concepts with the centre element and with each other. Mind mapping gives an aerial view of the interconnected nature of our curriculums, chapters, and topics. Use different colours or bullet icons to group similar concepts and connect them to the main subject of your practice.

5. The Magic of Print

Professor Andrew Dillon, the University of Texas, who specializes in reading practices says, “We’re spending so much time touching, pushing, linking, scrolling and jumping through text that when we sit down with a book, your daily habits of jumping, clicking, linking are just ingrained in you.”

As much as 90% of students choose a printed content to practice and remember concepts. Printed material reduces the chances of multi-tasking and helps students focus on the important task at hand, improving results. Our laptops and smartphones are laced with continuous notifications, we should stick to printed textbooks for focused practice sessions.

6. Bedtime Revisions

Studies show that non-rapid eye movement (REM) is instrumental in consolidating memories. Bedtime revision practice can help you tap into higher concentration levels to learn new concepts and remember them effectively. Using sleep learning to review study material before bed will result in better performance of your practice sessions.

7. Teaching Others

Teaching is the best form of learning, people that practice by helping others understand ultimately sharpen their own understanding of concepts. Once you have read and understood, try and explain what you have learned to your friends. Or better, call a few of your friends and organize a practice session for everybody.

Practising strategically saves time, reduces exam time stress and ultimately improves results.

If you are a teacher, mentor, or parent share this blog with young students and help them learn new ways of practising and learning. Remember, everybody is unique, try out every method mentioned above and then fix on something that suits you. You can mix a few or be inspired by these methods and create your own.

Keep practising, keep learning!

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