Thursday, June 10, 2021

Learning How to Learn

Of the five learning skills discussed by Lowe and Lowe, I am convinced that I’m strongest at listening, critical thinking, and essay test-taking.  However, I need to sharpen my skills in reading and writing.  But overall, reading this week’s lesson has enabled me to improve all five skills for learning.  I know now what specific things that can be done to increase my learning by enhancing all five of these skills. Below will review my learning of the five skills.

As I’m learning how I learn best, I know that listening is a top skill for me. This probably comes from honing my listening skills as a young musician (playing piano by ear instead of reading sheet music). Musically, I’ve developed my ear such that I can play a song after hearing it only once. When it comes to learning, I’ve found that I retain more information by hearing or seeing material presented than I do with only reading. From my music hobby, I’ve learned to avoid distractions and concentrate fully on what I’m hearing, which is a skill needed for proper listening. I started developing this skill at a young age to where now, I can block out to focus on individual instruments as they’re playing. From this lesson, I noticed that I already pay attention to spoken repeated words and key phrases.

Over the years, I believe I’ve developed critical thinking skills, and this mainly come from my academic training and business, finance, and economics. In my current profession (economist), we deal with mathematics and statistical topics, thus a need to logically process information is needed. In January 2021, I was promoted to a senior economist position in a new office – an office in which I had no prior knowledge. They hired me because of my SAS coding abilities (which means that I can program statistical analyses into a software through computer coding to automate activities). Since this is a new office, I’ve been having to learn the tasks of those that have been in the office longer. Since this is a senior position, I would need the knowledge to replicate what they’re doing in the event of their absence. So while learning the new knowledge/tasks, I noticed critical thinking skills taking place. For example, I would probe to get the “why” and “what” so that I can understand why they were doing specific tasks. I would generally write down instructions logically in steps, and then once the complete instructions were written, I’d go back and see what can be combined, shortened, automated, or otherwise modified to be more streamline. Having this mindset has enabled me to pick up on large quantities of highly technical instructions needed to produce a monthly index of inflation for the federal government.

When it came to test-taking, I was never very good at multiple choice. This is because the answers were too limited. I could know the concept, but not the specific word they’re looking for and miss the question. However, with essay questions, I have the ability to clearly explain my thought process and understanding, which will let the professor know whether or not I know the content regardless if I use a specific that might have been used in a multiple choice test. According to what was learned in this section, essay questions should be well organized. Relating this back to critical thinking and logic, when I’m answering an essay question, it’s usually in a highly logical format to explain every aspect of my thought process. I do this because I want the professor to know where I’m coming from and to be able to correct me at any given step of my through process. I know this is very important because, coming from mathematics, if one step of thought process is off, then the outcome would be incorrect. Even though I consider myself as being good at this skill, after learning from this week’s reading, I can still improve in this skill. If I took the time to plan a logical flow and outline beforehand, it would probably produce a higher quality essay answer.

Initially, I would have assumed a high skill level in reading. But after learning the proper reading skill sets and habits, I know that I am lacking in this area. For example, I’ve never taken the time to consider promotional comments, introductory sections of the books, or the author’s background. However, as we learned from Kaiser and Silva, reviewing related content and the author’s historical setting is useful in understanding a deeper meaning behind their thoughts. Another technique that I learned was to scan over the chapters, including paying attending to headings, for a big picture of what will be happening before digging into the content. Normally, I just start reading at chapter 1 and continue until the end. But if I were to spend a few minutes reading some background information and having an idea of the layout, then it would help me better categorize the content in my head once I start reading. Another skill learned that would help me would be to write down bits of information and reflect on them in writing to decide to incorporate the information.

Likewise, I assumed that writing would have been a top skill for me especially since I do a lot of writing for work. But then again, for those instances, my work is always run by an editor before being released in a government publication. And after learning the skills for better writing, I now understand the reason behind many comments that I receive from the editors of my work. When writing, I’ve generally written how I think while I’m thinking on a topic. Instead of planning out sections, it generally comes as a single flow of information. Not all of my writing has had thesis statements, which I know now that my writing should have a related statement where I defend and provide details to support it. In the past, I’ve viewed much of my writing as just informational pieces of review information that did not need a thesis since I wasn’t going to be support any claims. However, by adding claims to support with information, it would have better directed my work and help the reader get a sense of what my details were trying to support. One thing that I generally do not do, but have learned to do during this lesson is to create verbal illustrations (just like Jesus did to teach his lessons).

So far, this has been the most interesting lesson. Since I learn by application, seeing how to increase my skills through specific actions is very useful to me. I’m confident that by putting these skills into practice, that I will ensure great success throughout my studies at Liberty University.


Bibliography

Kaiser, Walter and Moises Silva. Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics: The Search for Meaning. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007.

Lowe, Stephen D. and Mary E. Lowe. Orienting Adults to Learning in Graduate Theological Education. Lynchburg, VA: Liberty University, 2017.