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Active Learning

Becoming an effective learner means intensifying your involvement with your work. Studies have shown that you retain only about 10 percent of what you read unless you involve other learning modalities.

Effective learning occurs through active, not passive, means. The more you can manipulate the material, the more you will understand and remember. Try these techniques:

Method of Learning Performance
Read Only.  10%
Read. Hear.   20%
Read. Hear. See.  50%
Read. Hear. See. Explain.  70%
Read. Hear. See. Explain. Show.  90% 


Engage as many senses as possible.

  • Read and then recite difficult passages aloud.
  • Mark textbooks instead of highlighting.
  • Discuss the reading with a study partner or your professor during office hours.
  • Draw diagrams or pictures.
  • Type written notes and fill in new or missing information and concepts.
  • Create practice tests.


Question your progress regularly.

  • Are your study strategies effective?
  • Are you giving yourself ample time to produce your best work?
  • Think not only about the material itself, but about how you are going about learning it.
  • What changes need to be made?


Set the stage.

  • Understanding improves when you know the context of the material.
  • Survey or preview a chapter before reading.
  • Know what terms might be presented in a lecture before attending.
  • Relate the material back to the big picture.


Transform information into different forms.

  • Use charts, graphs, time lines, index cards, and so on.
  • Manipulate the material. Try to express new concepts in your own words.


Use all available resources.

  • These include anything that may be of help: the syllabus, texts, notes, handouts, professors, teacher assistants, study partners, advisers, counselors, supplemental readings, returned assignments and exams, and of course, tutoring.