Learn Like an Expert7:41 with Dave McFarland
Some methods of learning are more effective than others. In this short video, learn how Treehouse teacher, Dave McFarland, uses a simple process of "deliberate learning" to make learning more effective and last longer.
Deliberate Learning Process
Identify your learning weaknesses
- What are the main concepts / ideas / facts I just learned? This act of recall helps your memory get stronger.
- Can you explain those concepts in your own words? Write this down in a journal, in a document, or even in a Treehouse workspace
- Can you relate those concepts to things you already know? Compare and contrast with similar concepts you already know: how are they similar or different. This adds meaning to what you've learned based on things you already understand.
Work on those weaknesses
- Put what you just learned into action. Try to write code similar to what you just learned, or build something new based on the concepts you're trying to grasp. Check out our Library of Practice material to see if there's a practice session that matches what you're trying to master.
- Re-watch or redo with purpose. Think about the three questions under the Identify your learning weaknesses section above as you re-watch the material. Be deliberate in trying to answer those questions — even stop the video to take notes.
- Supplement what you learned with another source. Use links to resources in the teacher's notes, reference sites for the language you're learning or just Google to find out more. Sometimes it just takes a slightly different explanation to understand a challenging concept.
- Look to our Treehouse community for help.
- Don't give up! The best learning isn't easy — the more you work at it, the better and more deeply you learn.
Hello, since you're watching this, I know you're interested in learning, and 0:00 probably interested in learning better. 0:04 In this video, 0:07 I'll walk you through a simple technique I used to improve how I learn. 0:07 Maybe it will help you too. 0:12 A lot of people think that experts like chess champions, concert musicians or 0:13 professional athletes are just naturally talented. 0:18 That they are born with the gifts that have made them great. 0:22 Sure, it helps to be tall if you want to play basketball but, 0:25 that's not enough to become a pro. 0:29 The psychologist Anders Ericsson has spent many years studying performance, 0:31 and he has identified one key factor in developing expertise, deliberate practice. 0:37 Experts work on their skills, a lot, but 0:43 they don't spend their time practicing what they already do well. 0:46 Instead they identify their weaknesses, and train to reduce those weaknesses. 0:50 In other words, 0:56 they spend time on improving the areas that need the most improvement. 0:56 Makes sense right? 1:01 But most folks don't train this way because it takes time and can be both 1:02 frustrating and challenging, but that's how you develop expert level skills. 1:06 it's similar in learning, 1:13 there are more effective ways to learn in less effective ways. 1:14 What doesn't help you learn better or 1:18 remember longer is redoing your course work. 1:20 Like rereading a book, rewatching a course or 1:23 taking tests on in information you already know well. 1:26 However like a professional athlete, 1:30 you can learn better by focusing on the areas that need the most improvement. 1:32 Spend the time to understand and remember concepts that you're not quite getting. 1:37 I call this deliberate learning, and although it takes more time up front, 1:42 it lets me make sure what I'm learning and 1:47 helps that information stick with me longer. 1:50 In the next few minutes, I'll explain how I identify my learning weaknesses and 1:53 how I work to reduce those weaknesses. 1:58 As I'm learning something new, 2:01 I ask myself three basic questions every time important information is introduced. 2:03 What are the main concepts, ideas or facts I just learned? 2:09 This question forces a simple act of remembering called recall. 2:13 And answering it does a couple of things. 2:18 First, it let's me make sure I was paying attention. 2:20 Secondly, and this is related to strengthening memory. 2:23 Recall helps with what's called memory consolidation. 2:26 In other words, remembering a thing helps you remember it better. 2:30 Next I ask myself can I explain those concepts in my own words? 2:35 I'll try to say out loud or in my head what I just learned. 2:39 But it's important that I don't just repeat word for 2:43 word what I read or watched. 2:46 By putting the concepts into my own words I'm making sure that I understand them. 2:48 Finally, I'll ask myself if I can relate what I learn to things I already know. 2:54 For example, say I just learned about sets in Python. 2:59 I can ask, how does this relate to another Python data structure I already know, 3:02 like a dictionary? 3:07 How are they similar, different? 3:09 And when should I use which? 3:11 This is an important step, and helps tie concepts together. 3:13 It adds meaning to what I just learned by connecting it with something I 3:17 already know. 3:21 In addition, 3:22 building connections between memories helps make those memories last longer. 3:23 This three question process works really well with tree house courses and 3:29 workshops. 3:33 After each video you watch just ask your self those three questions. 3:34 Now what do I do if I can't remember, explain, or 3:39 connect what I learned to something I already know? 3:43 Well, I've just identified a learning weakness. 3:46 I didn't get it. 3:49 This is a red flag for me and let's me know that I shouldn't just continue to 3:51 the next chapter, video, or lesson. 3:54 I need to stop, regroup, and figure this out. 3:57 When I realize that I'm not understanding something I was just taught, 4:01 I have several strategies that help me. 4:04 First, I'll try to put what I learned into action. 4:07 This works best if you're being taught a particular technique or skill. 4:10 For example, if you just learned about conditional statements and were shown code 4:14 for how to use them in a program, try to create similar code on your own. 4:18 Play around with the program and 4:22 don't worry if you don't get it right immediately. 4:23 You could also try a code challenge related to what you just learned, or 4:27 try a treehouse practice session if there's one related to the new concept. 4:30 Of course, you might not be able to put what you learned into action. 4:35 Maybe you really didn't get it or there isn't a clear way to practice. 4:39 In that case, my second step is to reread or re-watch what I just learned. 4:42 But do it with purpose. 4:47 I know I said earlier that it's not that effective to just redo courses. 4:49 And it's true just rereading or 4:54 re-watching everything you learned isn't that effective. 4:56 But I am suggesting that you revisit the material. 4:59 While purposely focusing on answering those three questions. 5:02 As you re-watch the video, keep in mind what's important, how to explain it, 5:06 and how it relates to what you already know. 5:11 Pause the video, or stop reading, 5:13 to give you time to think about those three questions and answer them. 5:15 It's a good idea to take notes. 5:20 Write them down, put them into a Google doc, or use a program like Evernote or 5:21 just your text editor. 5:25 Finally, if you still feel that you just don't understand what you learned or 5:27 still can't answer those three questions, 5:32 supplement what you learned with another source. 5:34 There are many ways to do this. 5:38 Often at Treehouse, we include more resources than a teacher's notes. 5:39 You can see an example on this page below this video. 5:43 Go ahead and follow those links and read those resources. 5:47 Documentation is another great place to learn more. 5:51 There is usually lots of documentation for a language, a new framework or 5:53 an application, and will often include links to those in the teacher's notes. 5:57 Finally, a quick Google search often leads to some useful information like 6:02 a Stack Overflow post, Wikipedia page or 6:07 some other explanation of what you just learned. 6:09 I find that having something explained in different ways and 6:12 from different sources helps me understand better. 6:16 So what do I do if after all of that, i'm still confused about what I just learned? 6:19 In that case I'll seek advice from an expert or 6:25 a colleague, ask a friend or Treehouse and visit the community and 6:28 talk to other students about what you're having trouble with. 6:32 You will often find good advice, great answers, and 6:35 a lot of support in our community. 6:38 If you are learning a new coding framework you might see if there is a slack or 6:40 IRC channel available. 6:44 The one thing I don't do is just give up. 6:47 Learning is challenging and learning something like computer programming, 6:50 data analysis or some other technical skill. 6:54 Takes time. 6:57 You'll rarely just get it. 6:58 Sometimes you'll need to live with the slight discomfort of not 7:00 totally understanding everything you learn. 7:04 Often, when we're struggling the most, we're learning the most. 7:07 Even if it doesn't feel like it at the time. 7:10 I learned a long time ago that I have to be 7:14 okay with not immediately being an expert. 7:16 But the way I've taught myself to get better at learning is identifying 7:19 what I don't understand and working on it bit by bit until I do. 7:23 It takes time and it isn't always fun, but it's always rewarding knowing you've 7:28 put in the time and learned something that you thought was too complicated for you. 7:33 Have fun learning. 7:38
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