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Introduction

Learning how to learn is a process in which we all engage throughout our lives, although often we do not realise that we are, in fact, learning how to learn. Most of the time we concentrate on what we are learning rather than how we are learning it. In this unit, we aim to make the process of learning much more explicit by inviting you to apply the various ideas and activities to your own current or recent study as a way of increasing your awareness of your own learning.
Author(s): The Open University

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Acknowledgements

Grateful acknowledgement is made to the following sources for permission to reproduce material:

The following material is Proprietary, used under licence (see terms and conditions) This content is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Licence

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References

Entwistle, N. (1997) ‘Contrasting perspectives on learning’ in Marton, F., Hounsell, D. and Entwistle, N. (eds) The Experience of Learning: Implications for teaching and studying in Higher Education, Edinburgh, Scottish Academic Press Limited.
Marton, F. and R. Saljo (1997) ‘Approaches to learning’ in Marton, F., Hounsell, D. and Entwistle, N. (eds) The Experience of Learning: Implications for teachi
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4.1 Underlining and highlighting

To be able to make sense of what you are reading, you need to read actively. One method that can help is to use a pen.

Activity 2

Did you underline or highlight any words as you read the Layard article? If not, go back over the
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3.1 Skimming

Did you read the Layard article quickly enough, or perhaps too quickly? Reading speed is a persistent worry when you study. There always seems to be much more to read than you have time for, so you feel a tremendous pressure to read faster. But then, if you go too fast, you don't learn much. So what is the ‘right’ speed? The answer is – it depends on what you are trying to achieve.

It's surprising how much you can pick up if you push on quickly through a few pages.

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2.5 Poor environment

Were you held back at all in your reading by the environment you were reading in? Were you reading in bed, in the bath, sitting at a desk, on the bus, or in the park? Any of these could be a good time and place, but did it actually work for you?

Were you able to maintain your concentration fo
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2.4 Disagreeing with the author

It is clear from Kate's responses that from the outset she felt hostile to Layard's article and to Layard himself. As she later explained in a seminar, she felt that he looked down on people with low incomes, such as herself. She felt she was being told that she wasn't happy with her life and that she envied people with lots of possessions. In her philosophy, she said, happiness had nothing to do with wealth. She was just as capable of being happy as the richest people in the country. Because
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2.3 Coping with difficult parts

Salim and Lewis mentioned that they found some sections of Layard's article difficult. So did I; for example, anyone without a background in economics would have difficulty grasping the arguments in paragraphs 13 and 14.

So what should you do when you can't make sense of what you read? Should you search online to find out about taxation theory? For my own satisfaction I searched for a definition of ‘marginal rate of taxation’ just to get the gist of it. I also tried to write down th
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2.2 The ‘academic’ style

You might also be put off by the ‘academic’ style of writing. In everyday life, what you read is usually written to grab your attention and get a message across quickly before you ‘switch channels’. By contrast, academic texts often raise broad, abstract questions and are unconcerned about arriving at quick answers. For example, where a newspaper headline might say:

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2.1.1 Should you stop reading to look words up?

It depends. Looking up words slows you down, and you may be able to make reasonable sense of their context without having to. For example, I found it fairly easy to guess the meaning of ‘habituation’ in paragraph 8, from the way it was discussed. However, I looked it up on the internet anyway, as I happened to have my computer on. I also looked up ‘real income’ and ‘marginal tax’ and found useful clarification of their meanings.

You have to decide how important a word seems
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10.1 Further reading

There are many relevant books available from libraries and bookshops. Here are some suggestions to start you off.

  • de Bono's Thinking Course by Edward de Bono, published by BBC Books, 1999

    An interesting general consideration of thinking skills with tools and techniques for developing thinking in a general way.

  • Use Your Head by Tony Buzan, published by BBC Books, 1995

    Lots of useful information on how to mak
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7.2 Other ways of structuring thought

Distinguishing between generals and particulars can help you in reading, note taking and writing for your course. But, looking at things in a hierarchical general-particular way is only one approach to giving structure to ideas and information.

Activity 14

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3.2.2 What problems might you have with getting feedback?

Only you can answer this. However, you might think that you will not find it easy to ask someone else to be a mentor and give you feedback about your own qualities, knowledge or skills. There may be all sorts of reasons for this. You might not feel that you know anyone that you would trust to give you feedback in a way in which you would find helpful. Acting as a feedback giver can put someone in such a powerful position that you might feel uncomfortable. You might feel that you do not know a
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1.2.1 Your learning style

Imagine you are going to learn a new task. It could be laying a laminate floor, following a new recipe or learning to use a new TV remote control. How do you approach the task?

  • Approach 1 Do you sit down with the instructions and read them through before trying?

  • Approach 2 Do you get stuck in to the task straight away? Do you ask others for help and then move on to a new task as soon as this one is complete?

  • <
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1.1.7 Comfortable and safe for one, but not for all?

There may be many users of a single computer in your house, and each person is a different shape and size. This means that a single layout of the work area may not meet the needs of all of the users. If you have an adjustable chair or desk, it is sensible for each user to adjust it to fit them when they come to use the computer. You may find it helpful to mark the chair or desk to show the most comfortable settings for each person.

You may need to place the monitor on top of something t
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1.1.2 Quiz: Getting started

0 hours 30 minutes

This quiz will help you to become familiar with some of the terminology that you will come across in this unit. It is just for fun. Your answers are not assessed, so don't worry abo
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Acknowledgements

The content acknowledged below is Proprietary (see terms and conditions  )and is used under a Creative Commons licence.

All other materials included in this unit are derived from content originated at the Open University.

Grateful acknowledgement is made to the following sources
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12 Further reading and sources of help

Your tutor is the first person you should contact if you are encountering difficulties with any aspect of your studies. If there are any issues raised in this unit that you would like to discuss, you should approach your tutor. Sharing your action plan with him or her would be a useful first stage.

Your chosen place of study may offer a programme of learning skills sessions that should reinforce some of the issues raised here.

Further reading

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10 Reflecting on tutor feedback

When you have taken the assignment as far as you can, you will benefit more from the feedback from your tutor than you will from further polishing.

  • If you have worked hard to become involved with your subject you will really appreciate having a captive audience. Someone with as much interest in the subject (and presumably greater knowledge) as you, will take time to read what you have written and to understand what you are trying to say.


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8.1.1 Achieving a good polish

Here is a list of indicators you can use to judge your polishing techniques. Most guidance notes given to students include these points, but they are not always followed.

Positive indicators Negative indicators
It is word-processed or clearly and neatly hand-written. The assignment is written on paper t
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