It’s common knowledge that learning doesn’t necessarily mean retaining. Case in point, tests. Tests are the true litmus test of retention. Some people are just naturally gifted when it comes to retention, while others need to find ways to retain what is learned. If you’re one of those that struggle with retention, there are some fast and easy ways to not only learn, but retain what you’ve learned. From guest author Nicki Anderson.
I think we can all agree that the more interested we are in the subject matter, the easier the learning process. If Anatomy intrigues you, retention of material learned will come more easily. However, learning anything well begins with mastering the basics.
Your Environment – It’s not always easy to find a quiet spot with no interruptions to study. Further, between text messages and instant messaging, it’s near impossible to clear your mind beyond what you’re studying. But if you can do it, it will make the learning process so much easier. Think about it, if you’re mind is distracted; your ability to remember what you learn is compromised.
Practice makes Perfect– If you’re one of those that crams for finals, studies show it’s not the best tactic. Although some people can do it with some success, your success rate will significantly increase if you give yourself the necessary time to learn your material. If you think about athletes, to hone their skill they must practice – a lot! Therefore think about training for an athletic event and how you would lay out your training schedule. The same applies for learning something new, especially when considering the complexity of anatomy.
Exercise to energize your brain – More and more studies point to the benefits of exercise and a more receptive brain. In other words, if you are active, your brain is more likely to focus and retain more information than if you’re over tired or distracted. According to spark.org, physical activity benefits the brain in the following ways:
- Increases oxygen flow to the brain
- Increases brain neurotransmitters
- [Increased] brain-derived neurotrophins that support neuronal differentiation and survival in the developing brain.” Neurotrophins assure the survival of neurons in areas responsible for learning, memory, and higher thinking.
So, once you have your environment set, your ready to put in the necessary practice and you’ve fit in a quick walk or run, here are tactics to help you learn the information more quickly.
Don’t memorize, connect. According to ScottHyoung.com, “Smart people don’t need to memorize, because they connect ideas together.” In other words, it’s finding ways to connect with the material you’re learning. Remember the song, “The knee bone’s connected to the thigh bone, the thigh bone’s connected to the….” It was a fun and easy way to remember the very basics of bone structure. Not quite science, but you get the gist. Once you’re able to connect to the material you’re learning, the easier it becomes.
Breaking it all down. If you’re studying for something complex, such as anatomy, start with the basics. For example, focus on the bones by studying a skeletal model– once you have skeletal anatomy down, move on to the muscles, their (muscle) origins and insertions and their actions. Another thought is to think about how muscles are cross segments. If you’re focusing on origins and insertions, consider how it starts at the hip, and crosses the knee ([Tensor fascia lata] Ilio-tibial band.
Learn and Repeat. Once you’ve learned something, don’t think you’ve mastered it. How many times have you thought you knew something inside and out only to discover you blank out test day? As mentioned earlier, you’ve got to look at learning and retaining information the same way as training for an athletic event. Just because you ran you’re fastest mile, doesn’t mean you’re done training. Consider keeping a human anatomy chart visible to look at it every day.
Let go of fear and doubt. If you want to clog your brain with senseless information you will prevent retaining what you really need to learn. Fear, lack of confidence or constantly reminding yourself how stressed out you are about a test will only serve to reduce your ability to free your mind of “clutter.” It’s basically feeling confident and positive about the learning process which will ultimately allow you to be successful in recalling the necessary information.
Learning anatomy is only as challenging as you make it. If you believe that it’s going to be hard or impossible, it will be. If you believe you have what it takes to digest the knowledge and really learn it, you will. Learning can be easy if you allow yourself to connect, repeat and let go of any negative outcomes.
Guest author Nicki Anderson the weekly health and fitness columnist for SunTimes Media/Naperville Sun and monthly columnist for TribuneCompany/Naperville Magazine. Nicki is also the author of 4 books including Reality Fitness; Inspiration for Your Health and Well-being and Nicki Anderson’s Single Step Weight Loss Solution. Nicki has contributed to numerous magazines and websites including, MSNBC.com, Forbes.com and FitnessMagazine.com, Real Simple, Prevention, Women’s Health and Women’s’ Running, Men’s Health and Fitness. For more information about Nicki visit, www.nickianderson.com and connect with her on Google+ and Twitter.
Image License: author owned.