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What Are the Biggest Mistakes Students Make When it Comes to Learning?

“Brain scans cannot give rise directly to lesson plans.” The possibilities of bridging neuroscience and educational practice are both enormous and limited. Every Monday Pearson asks two experts–one from higher education and one from K12–to apply principles from learning science to today’s classrooms. This is part five of a series of eight questions.

Michael Britt, PhD: I think that the biggest mistake [higher education] students make is to try to carry over the study techniques that they used in high school and use them in college. Hopefully (though this isn’t always true) their college courses include assignments and projects that require deeper levels of thought than the kind of simple memorization that probably got students good grades in high school. So we see students preparing for tests by reading and re-reading their textbook chapters and possibly creating flash cards and then expecting that this kind of “study” is all they’ll need to do to get good grades. When those good grades don’t come students get frustrated, discouraged or perhaps blame their professors for being “too hard”. They then discover that studying longer using these same methods doesn’t improve their grades. Learned helplessness sets in and they then try to avoid such “hard teachers”. I think this prevents them from getting challenged and from really learning about the world and about themselves.

Click here to see how research scientist, Liane Wardlow, responded to the question from the K-12 perspective.

This post is part of a series, The Science of Learning – from an Educator and Researcher Perspective that was originally posted on Pearson’s Research & Innovation Network. Click here to learn more.