Factors that determine success in learning

August 26, 2014 Comments off

It’s the start of the new academic year and many first-year university students will find that they must sharpen their study skills to be successful in demanding majors. I came across an edition of “Student Success” by Walter and Siebert which gives excellent advice to those who wish to “succeed in college and still have time for [their] friends.”

In their survey of the research literature they found ten factors that students should know when attempting to learn and remember new material:

  1. “Information can’t be remembered when it isn’t learned well.”
  2. “Recognizing the material read is not the same as learning for recall. Recognition is the easiest learning; recall, the most difficult.”
  3. “You don’t learn or retain information well if you are distracted. Noise, television, music, and people talking all divert part of your brain’s attention from what you are studying. Being preoccupied or worried can also distract you from learning and remembering.”
  4. “Information does not transfer from short-term memory to long-term memory without effort, repetition, and practice.”
  5. “Your memory of information lasts longer when learning is spread out over a period of time.”
  6. “Your ability to remember information drops very sharply following the learning. Although the main points of a morning lecture may be recalled while talking to a friend at lunch, much of what was learned will be forgotten two weeks later. Only a small percentage of information is retained if you do not use it or practice relearning it.”
  7. “Trying to learn too much information too fast interferes with accurate recall. The nervous system needs time to assimilate new learning before taking in more.”
  8. “Information recently learned will be interfered with by similar information learned soon after. This is a process called retroactive inhibition, in which you have difficulty recalling new information too similar to other new information.”
  9. “When you have an emotional dislike for the material being learned, you will have difficulty recalling it objectively and accurately.”
  10. “Learning and remembering are less efficient when you lack interest in the material or motivation to learn.”

In addition to knowing what it takes to learn and remember new material, they also state that active time management is a key to success. Here are a few of the questions they pose that one should answer “yes” to in order to increase the odds of success:

  • “Have I outlined a weekly study schedule for myself?”
  • “Do I write out and follow daily time schedules?”
  • “Is my study free of distractions?”
  • “Do I avoid studying one subject too long?”
  • “Do I record my progress at achieving study goals?”
  • “When I achieve study goals, do I reward myself?”

Good luck students in the new academic year!


T. Walter, A. Siebert. Student Success, 5th edition. Chicago: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1990.

Categories: Education

Precision electroweak analysis after the Higgs boson discovery

June 24, 2014 Comments off

Released on the arXiv [arXiv:1406.6070]:

Authors: James D. Wells, Zhengkang Zhang

Title: Precision Electroweak Analysis after the Higgs Boson Discovery

Abstract: Until recently precision electroweak computations were fundamentally uncertain due to lack of knowledge about the existence of the Standard Model Higgs boson and its mass. For this reason substantial calculational machinery had to be carried along for each calculation that changed the Higgs boson mass and other parameters of the Standard Model. Now that the Higgs boson is discovered and its mass is known to within a percent, we are able to compute reliable semi-analytic expansions of electroweak observables. We present results of those computations in the form of expansion formulae. In addition to the convenience of having these expressions, we show how the approach makes investigating new physics contributions to precision electroweak observables much easier.

Categories: Particle Physics

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