Learning by blogging
In Belgium, hibernating students have finally moved away from their books after the winter exam period. Let me ask these students a question about their recent study approach.
In which of the following ways do you study course materials?
- a.Reading it several times
- b. Drawing concept maps
- c.Writing summaries or essays
According to a recently published study inScience, the most effective approach is c. Researchers asked 200 college students to read a short passage about a scientific subject. Afterwards, some of them were told to re-read the text a few times, others drew “concept maps” of the material and a last group spent 10 minutes writing a free-form essay.
When tested one week later, students who wrote essays performed best. Even when asked to draw concept maps of the material, the essay group came out on top, beating those that were assigned to do it one week earlier.
My answer on the question above is c, at least kind of. I studied Business Economics together with my twin brother, which allowed us to benefit from significant economies of scope. Each of us would attend only half of the courses to write notes and summaries. As a result, we mostly learned by debating. The one who had attended the course – the teacher – shared his view on a topic and the absent student would challenge every word of it. (As an aside, this learning approach often resulted in hefty discussions and even fist fights. Believe me, there is nothing more rewarding than winning an intellectual argument from your twin brother 😉
Whether you are learning by debating or by summarizing your thoughts on paper, you synthesize new information and prior knowledge. This requires a meaningful understanding of the new input and strongly boosts your ability to remember it.
My brother and I don’t debate anymore, but thanks to blogging I have managed to keep learning in the same way. Blogging combines the benefits of putting your thoughts on paper and allows your ideas to be challenged afterwards. So next time you have to master a topic, why not just review a bunch of articles, type out your thoughts and share them with your peers. It’s probably more effective and certainly more fun than reading a textbook for a third time.