What's The Experiment Chronicles theme of the week? Do your mind and body some good. It's been a rough month for all of us with exams, projects, papers, internships, job searching, work, relationships, and the election cycle.
Work: 3R Method
I usually stick to outlines and summarizing notes for studying but the American Psychological Association talked about the learning benefits of closing your textbook and talking to your wall/cat/succulent about what you've learned. This is the 3R method. These students learn more effectively than students who only reread the material. Plus, 3R students learn the material faster than students who just take notes. Faster, better learning? Sign me up.
A more detailed breakdown of the 3R method:
Read a section (per usual, I stick with 10-page sections), close the book, recite everything you can recall about what you just read, and then review what you've missed.
APA said that 3R students learned the material just as well as note-takers but faster. However, it took way longer for me to go through a section using 3R instead of pure note-taking. The alternate explanation for this is that I'm simply faster at note-taking because I've been doing it longer.
On the comprehension side, I don't feel like I did too hot there either. While reading an entire section in one go helped with comprehension, that wasn't anything new. Not to mention I felt like all the information just fell out of my head after reciting it. It's more comforting to me to visualize my scribbles of understanding instead of relying on what incorporeal thing I said . Reciting feels like rushed understanding since I can't use it as a reference. I could record myself, but I know I won't listen to the tapes later. The 3R method didn't add anything new in terms of comprehension, speed, or recall that I didn't have with note-taking.
Although, I will say that my note-taking with reading assignments isn't foolproof. Sometimes I take way too long or write down information I already understand because it goes with the flow of the page. A better rule of thumb would be to skim a section, go back, and only write down the still-confusing bits from the reread. I'll have a visual anchor focused on figuring out the "fuzzy" material and why I didn't get it at first.
Don't write off 3R just because it didn't work for me. Studying is about trying different things and sticking with what works for you. I'm all for experimentation but cut your losses early if something doesn't jibe with you. Modification to make something work usually ends up being more effort than its worth. Plus, there are plenty of methods out there that don't require modification and might work better for you.
Play: HTML Learning
I'm a big fan of Massive Open Online Courses (i.e. free online classes by accredited universities) and learning new things in general. That's a big reason why I'm an experiment dork. It's fun and useful to try out novel things. You never know what thing you'll learn that will end up irrevocably changing how you do things.
I tend to go for the liberal arts when I'm side learning since I'm a business major. However, since more and more business job descriptions desire coding literacy, I've decided to try self-learning a technical skill. I don't know about your school, but my business school doesn't teach graphic design or HTML to students outside the Computer Information Systems major. There aren't beginner-level major-neutral formal classes focused only on HTML. Time to hit the online world for help.
I made a terrible Angelfire website using HTML when I was 11. That is the extent of my HTML knowledge. I wanted to find a resource to use for furthering my skills. I'd like to be able to learn the basics and how to apply them. For me, wanting to learn HTML goes beyond wanting to beef up my resume.
As Karlie Kloss said,
"Code is the language that writes the technology that we interact with ... Every device speaks this language and understanding it means you can build something that reaches many people. It doesn’t matter if you want to work in fashion or start a non-profit ... Every industry is being transformed by technology and you either adapt or get left behind. So I think why coding has grown to be so powerful, especially for young women, is that it gives you the understanding and the skills to be a part of the change and a part of writing the future."
W3Schools reminded me a lot of my Angelfire days. A lot of text templates and tutorials. While very informative, I also felt the textbook format was overwhelming for a beginner. I'd like to have seen more of a focus on the bigger picture and real world examples. However, if you like having a lot of detailed text tutorials and exercises that isolate each bit, I'd recommend it.
Udacity is a free course that lasts 3 weeks. You can sign up using your Facebook or Twitter account. I liked the focus on exploring the web and showing examples of how the language works in real life. However, I still wasn't a fan of the format. While W3Schools was too text heavy, Udacity was too video-based. I don't always have my headphones on me and that was a major hindrance in trying to build a habit of using the site. Their forums were a nice touch so I'd recommend this site to people who like community support while learning.
Codecademy is an interactive HTML learning site. This was my favorite resource and I'd recommend it to all beginners. I liked being able to see how the code translated to real life by doing it on my own while also having a sidebar with a text tutorial. It goes into interactive lessons for building your own webpage, social networking profiles, and creating clickable photo pages. It was also fun to use, which was great for my purposes. Anything that helps with consistency at the beginning is immensely important in self-learning
Fellow College Fashion author, Sara, inspired me with her self-care post. It's been a rough few weeks for all of us; time to reset. So in the style of her three things recommendation, I picked pampering myself, crossing something off my to-do list, and sitting still for my three things.
As I've said before, I'm terrible with eating breakfast. I end up skipping it if I don't put in the effort to plan for it ahead of time. Thing is, I do enjoy sitting down and taking a few minutes to scroll through my newsfeed or read a book in the morning. That feels like a luxury, AKA pampering myself. I ended up eliminating the necessity for variety and just enjoyed a hot cup of tea in the morning.
In my life as a procrastinator, important things that are small or non-urgent do get done. If they aren't important, I don't do them and feel no guilt over them. However, there are small things that help with my overall sanity that I often neglect, e.g. making my bed. It feels frivolous to make a bed that's going to end up crumpled later on. Yet, I always end up feeling weirdly ready to tackle the world whenever I do make my bed. Zig Ziglar once said:
"People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing - that's why we recommend it daily."
Seeing that making my bed makes me feel more motivated AND it's like a shower for my room, it became my cross-off-to-do item.
I DID journal for sitting still. I didn't fudge the definitions for all three self-care categories (insert winking emoji). I've been meaning to keep a daily journal again so this was a great kickstarter for that habit. A lot of landmark events happened in both my personal life and society overall this week. It was satisfying to slide into a made bed, ignore electronics, and just write every night.
What have you been experimenting with?
Have you tried the 3R method? What's your favorite resource for learning XYZ skill or topic? What stress-busters do you do?