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3rd February 2019

Study Process to Learn Chemistry

Study Processes to Learn Chemistry

The next strategy listed by Dr Lee is called “Study Process”, if you haven’t read the prior two posts on the first two strategies, click here to start.

It’s basically forming good study habits together with your child/students. I see it as an extension to the first strategy, ‘Structured Choices’. The only difference is that ‘Study Process’ involves the results as part of the cycle. She argues that focusing on results will set the child/student up for frequent disappointments. However, focusing on the process is rewarding as the child/student is competing against themselves only. The sense of progression will also be very motivating.

As parents and teachers, when we focus on their study process instead of just the grades, they too will not place too much emphasis on their grades. Having said that, we can still look at their answers to get an idea of their thought process. It would be even better if they are able to articulate why they were stuck or made that particular mistake. If it was a calculation error, it is easy to rectify. But a conceptual error at Advanced Level could be a long list of misconceptions with its roots deeply embedded from lower levels.

Learning and Drilling

One point which she makes in the book i would like to elaborate on, she mentioned that doing more of the same (wrong) process will not change the results. Also we need to distinguish between the learning stage and the drilling stage. In the learning stage, they are allowed to refer to materials and search the internet for answers or explanations. But in the drilling stage, they are doing exams questions under timed constrain and marking their answers to check for mistakes.

Most parents and teachers do not distinguish the two, which works fine when they are at lower levels. However, at Advanced Level Chemistry, just drilling and checking the answers, they still wouldn’t understand. To check their understanding, all we need to do is to slightly tweak the questions. You will quickly realised they can’t solve the new (slightly tweaked) problem.

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Refining the Study Processes to Learn Chemistry

Your students/child is the best judge of whether they have understood the learning objective. Some sources call it the “Aha!” moment. It is when their understanding of the topic suddenly click in their mind. Sometimes it’s described as if our minds are in a fog, then when we finally understood the solution, the fog clears and we can see what was it that was troubling us.

So when the child/student feels that the process helps them learn better, they will be able to handle different variations of the particular question. At A levels, it is important that they are able to learn the concept rather than just memorizing the information. One of the learning outcomes is they have to apply their knowledge and make predictions for new contexts. So if they have been just drilling all the way til JC, they will find it very hard to score quality grades.

That’s it for Strategy #3! Go to Strategy #4 Informational Feedback to Learn Chemistry 🙂

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