(Part one of two)

Through my involvement over a period of 50 years in the “science of learning”, mostly at higher education level and in teaching and motivating students, I came to the conclusion that achievement depends on the following 10 basic principles of learning:
• Attitude and Interest
• Motivation
• Anxiety
• Time Management
• Concentration an Attention
• Information Processing
• Selecting Main Ideas
• Use of Support Techniques and Materials
• Self Testing and Reviewing
• Preparing and Examination Strategies

1.ATTITUDE and INTEREST towards study and attainment:
Examinations are usually viewed by most learners and students as anxiety-laden situations e.g. “the fear for examinations”. At this stage of the year students are in their final preparation for the examination. Insecurity and lack of confidence are the main reasons why students become anxious about the examinations.

2. MOTIVATION in general, culminate from one’s life goals and experiences, aspirations, external influences, determination, diligence, activity and self-discipline and imagery. The more congruent these elements become within one’s way of life, the stronger and more realistic your motivation will be. The right motivation to succeed can only be achieved through realistic goals, determination, a balanced lifestyle, effective planning, and the setting aside of a specified amount of time needed to study. At this late stage you may develop the feeling that it is probably impossible to change to a more positive approach. The more you engage in these 10 principles, the more you will evoke a stronger motivation to succeed.

3.ANXIETY, the unnecessary and acute presence which can upset all good intentions. Examine your emotional condition and attitude with regard to study and the examination. Situations or events that cause disruption or tension are of special importance. It is better to be more positive by trying to live with and accept unfortunate situations as part of the academic process rather than keep worrying or becoming anxious about them. Also, anxiety in study develops because of not having a goal to work for. Before your examination make a list of all the objectives you wish to attain. Effective study will ease anxiety. Avoid being to tense when studying. Practise relaxation exercises while studying or even in the examination room when writing – tensing up can block the information and ideas “getting through”.

4.TIME MANAGEMENT when studying. How much effective study time do you still have before your examinations ? You may have only 20 to 25 hours per week left to devote to study. Therefore you have to plan study time available very economically. Definite learning objectives need to be set for each study session, eg. a summary of so many pages; a certain concept must be understood and applied; the solution of a certain type of problem must be mastered. Also bear in mind that it is not only the number of hours that go into the work, it is also the amount of work that is put into each hour, that counts. Avoid cramming. During the examination, schedule the answering of questions to ensure that you will be able to answer the total number required. About 5 to 10 minutes are needed for reading the instructions, re-reading answers and, if applicable, checking response cards. Calculate the rate at which questions should be answered in terms of time per sections/questions/marks. Use the calculated rate as a guide and set time limits within which to complete answers. Approximately one and a half minutes per mark are available for a three-hour paper counting 100 marks.

5.CONCENTRATION and ATTENTION when studying. “I can’t concentrate. Minutes and hours slip by and I just can’t apply my thoughts to my studies.” Poor concentration is often related to a “passive and aimless approach” to one’s study. To ensure that one concentrate effectively, one should set oneself specific short-term objectives while studying. A general objective such as “I am studying to pass matric or to qualify for a specific career should be translated into concrete and specific learning tasks every time the student sits down to study. These tasks must be set in terms of the subject matter to be systematically studied.

Prof Hendrik Gous –
044 695 0841/081 270 4227
( To be continued – Part 2)

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