Last night, I wrapped up my last final of my first semester of grad school. The past few months have simultaneously seemed to fly by and drag, if that’s possible. I got used to a new program, new professors, a totally new campus, and a totally different approach to learning, all of which caused some significant shifts in the beautiful chaos that my life had been since starting undergrad.
Don’t take me as the authority on all graduate programs, because I’m sure they vary, but at least in mine, the classes meet once a week for a couple of hours, and there’s even fewer assignments than your typical undergrad class. So the bulk of my final grades this semester were determined by a huge group presentation and a final exam that took the form of multiple essay questions, each question with multiple parts. Still waiting to know my official fate (and it still confuses me that we’re calling essays “exams” now, but I digress).
Are you stressed yet?
Even though I’ve always preferred writing papers to taking exams, these were challenging because 1) I didn’t know what the professors would really expect and 2) most of my energy was spent figuring out exactly what the multiple questions were asking before I even thought about writing.
This got me thinking. Theoretically, I should know a lot about useful learning strategies. I researched them for three years! I presented at a national conference! But most of the strategies that would help you study for a test don’t really work when you move beyond concrete, testable knowledge (think true/false questions, multiple choice, something where there’s an objective, correct answer) to more abstract tasks like paper-writing.
Or… do they?
I’m excited to share that a post I wrote earlier this year is now featured on the Learning Scientists blog. In this piece, I review some previous education and cognitive research and suggest ways we might apply what we know about learning to writing, as well as how writers’ brains work in general.
These tips can work for educators or students at any level, and I hope you find them just as enlightening as I did.
Stay tuned for my year-end retrospective wrap-up, coming within… well, these last few days of THE DECADE (is anyone else just as excited and shocked as I am that we’re entering the 2020s?!).
I’ve also got some extra special things in store before the end of the year, so watch my social media for updates! In the coming weeks, I hope you get to enjoy some holiday cheer.
Photo by Bram Naus via Unsplash.