1. Learn in Multiple Ways

Focus on learning in more than one way. Instead of just listening to a podcast, which involves auditory learning, find a way to rehearse the information both verbally and visually. This might involve describing what you learned to a friend, taking notes or drawing a mind map. By learning in more than one way, you’re further cementing the knowledge in your mind. According to Judy Willis, “The more regions of the brain that store data about a subject, the more interconnection there is. This redundancy means students will have more opportunities to pull up all of those related bits of data from their multiple storage areas in response to a single cue. This cross-referencing of data means we have learned, rather than just memorized” (Willis, J. Brain-based teaching strategies for improving students' memory, learning, and test-taking success. Review of Research. Childhood Education, 83(5), 31-316, 2008).

2. Teach What You’ve Learned to Another Person

Educators have long noted that one of the best ways to learn something is to teach it to someone else. Remember your seventh-grade presentation on Costa Rica? By teaching to the rest of the class, your teacher hoped you would gain even more from the assignment. You can apply the same principle today by sharing your newly learned skills and knowledge with others.

Start by translating the information into your own words. This process alone helps solidify new knowledge in your brain. Next, find some way to share what you’ve learned. Some ideas include writing a blog post, creating a podcast or participating in a group discussion.

3. Utilize Previous Learning to Promote New Learning

Another great way to become a more effective learner is to use relational learning, which involves relating new information to things that you already know. For example, if you are learning about Romeo and Juliet, you might associate what you learn about the play with prior knowledge you have about Shakespeare, the historical period in which the author lived and other relevant information.

4. Gain Practical Experience

For many of us, learning typically involves reading textbooks, attending lectures or doing research in the library or on the Web. While seeing information and then writing it down is important, actually putting new knowledge and skills into practice can be one of the best ways to improve learning. If you are trying to acquire a new skill or ability, focus on gaining practical experience. If it is a sport or athletic skill, perform the activity on a regular basis. If you are learning a new language, practice speaking with another person and surround yourself with immersive experiences. If you see a standardized patient, observe a physician examining a patient, hear about a disease, take time to read about it. This helps you learn—by connecting to a real person.

5. Look Up Answers Rather Than Struggle to Remember

Of course, learning isn’t a perfect process. Sometimes, we forget the details of things that we have already learned. If you find yourself struggling to recall some tidbit of information, research suggests that you are better offer simply looking up the correct answer. One study found that the longer you spend trying to remember the answer, the more likely you will be to forget the answer again in the future. Why? Because these attempts to recall previously learned information actually results in learning the "error state" instead of the correct response.

6. Understand How You Learn Best

Another great strategy for improving your learning efficiency is to recognize your learning habits and styles. There are a number of different theories about learning styles, which can all help you gain a better understanding of how you learn best. Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences (see descriptions at the end of this document) describes eight different types of intelligence that can help reveal your individual strengths.

7. Use Testing to Boost Learning

While it may seem that spending more time studying is one of the best ways to maximize learning, research has demonstrated that taking tests actually helps you better remember what you've learned, even if it wasn't covered on the test. The study revealed that students who studied and were then tested had better long-term recall of the materials, even on information that was not covered by the tests. Students who had extra time to study but were not tested had significantly lower recall of the materials.

8. Stop Multitasking

For many years, it was thought that people who multitask, or perform more than one activity at once, had an edge over those who did not. However, research now suggests that multitasking can actually make learning less effective. In the study, participants lost significant amounts of time as they switched between multiple tasks and lost even more time as the tasks became increasingly complex. By switching from one activity to another, you will learn more slowly, become less efficient and make more errors. How can you avoid the dangers of multitasking? Start by focusing your attention on the task at hand and continue working for a predetermined amount of time.

How do you learn best?  These are Howard Gardner's multiple intelligencies.  Which intelligencse describe the way you function?

Intelligences Description Related Tasks, Activities


logical thinking, detecting patterns, scientific reasoning and deduction; analyze problems, perform mathematical calculations, understands relationship between cause and effect towards a tangible outcome or result

Perform a mental arithmetic calculation; create a process to measure something difficult; analyze how a machine works, create a process; devise a strategy to achieve an aim; assess the value of a business or proposition


words and language, written and spoken; retention, interpretation and explanation of ideas and information via language, understands relationship between communication and meaning

write a set of instructions; speak on a subject; edit a written piece or work; write a speech; commentate on an event; apply positive or negative 'spin' to a story


musical ability, awareness, appreciation and use of sound; recognition of tonal and rhythmic patterns, understands relationship between sound and feeling

perform a musical piece; sing a song; review a musical work; coach someone to play a musical instrument; specify mood music for telephone systems and receptions


visual and spatial perception; interpretation and creation of visual images; pictorial imagination and expression; understands relationship between images and meanings, and between space and effect

design a costume; interpret a painting; create a room layout; create a corporate logo; design a building; sense of direction; arrange the layout of a document


body movement control, manual dexterity, physical agility and balance; eye and body coordination

demonstrate a sports technique; create a mime to explain something; assess work-station ergonomics; dance; gardening; build a cabinet


(strong association with emotional intelligence)

perception of other people's feelings; ability to relate to others; interpretation of behavior and communications; understands the relationships between people and their situations, including other people

interpret moods from facial expressions; demonstrate feelings through body language; coach or counsel another person; human resources; educator; team person; loves to be with people; good communicator


self-awareness, personal cognizance, personal objectivity, the capability to understand oneself, one's relationship to others and the world, and one's own need for, and reaction to change

consider and decide one's own aims and personal changes required to achieve them (not necessarily reveal this to others); self-reflective, self-aware;


more in tune with nature and are often interested in nurturing, exploring the environment and learning about nature. These individuals are said to be highly aware of even subtle changes to their environments.

Interested in subjects such as botany, biology and zoology; good at categorizing and cataloging information easily; may enjoy camping, gardening, hiking and exploring the outdoors;

Doesn’t enjoy learning unfamiliar topics that have no connection to nature

Resources: http://psychology.about.com/od/educationalpsychology/tp/effective-learning.htm; http://quizlet.com/; http://www.businessballs.com/howardgardnermultipleintelligences.htm