How to Be a Better Learner
Try a Change of Scenery
According to Bjork’s research, switching up where you study— even just alternating rooms in the house—may boost your ability to tap into what you’ve learned. Here’s why: Our brains associate new facts with various internal and external stimuli, such as physical location. So if your son studies for a geography exam only at the dining-room table, he may find it easier to recall the difference between an archipelago and a peninsula when he’s sitting there rather than anywhere else, including his classroom. “But if you learn that information in multiple environments, you’re tying it to more cues, so there’s a higher likelihood that you can retrieve it anywhere,” says Kornell. The musical-chairs approach may not be for everyone, though: “If your child has trouble concentrating, then having a consistent place to study is best,” says Kornell. And in that case, just imagining himself at the dining-room table come test time can help him recall what he has learned, says Bjork, because he’ll be mentally reinstating that familiar study context.
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