Sunday, August 28, 2011

GED Study Tip: For Real Knowledge, Reinforce the Learning Process

Once GED students discover how to activate the learning process, it's equally important to reinforce learning since real learning happens when you use knowledge, especially if it's fresh. And since learning is really a lifelong process, lessons on how people learn -- and continue to learn -- are good ones to understand.

Learning is a Self-Controlled Process

People learn faster and better when they control the speed of learning. In most classrooms, it's the teacher who controls the material. So its important for GED students to determine their own learning speed, and to devise methods or a study plan that accommodate that speed.

Self-guided study is a good way to control the speed and pace of learning. But when self-directing a study program, it's important to make study a habit, whether short periods for studying are set aside for each day, or longer periods two to three times a week.

In classroom situations its more difficult to control the speed of learning since instructors follow lesson plans. So talking to the instructor may help. Just explain that you need a different learning pace. Some students may learn better by moving more quickly through material, while others need extra time.

Regardless, once a student understands that they need to control their own learning -- and the speed in which it takes place -- learning is easier. They can then identify the most comfortable speed, and consequently, learn faster and learn more.

Learning Requires Rapid Feedback

Feedback is a critical part of the learning process, one that's often overlooked. The more immediate and meaningful the feedback is, the quicker people learn.

Consider how many classroom situations work: Information is presented over days or weeks -- or sometimes over months. Then students are tested. Until they see test results, students may not know whether their learning is effective.

The best learning situation gives the learner immediate feedback on their progress. A good GED study program should include continuous opportunities and methods for students to connect their learning efforts with their outcomes. This way, students can quickly identify whether they've learned material or need to learn it better. Meaningful feedback also reinforces the learning process because information is used quickly and frequently. It's the key to keeping new information -- retaining it instead of just remembering it.

Real Learning Means Real Knowledge -- Use it!

Once you learn material and gain new knowledge, use it. Use it every chance you get. Using new knowledge ensures ownership, and enhances critical-thinking skills, the most important skills measured by the GED.

Here is a good example of how one successful PassGED student gained real knowledge through the application of it:

Maria, studying for the GED Language Arts reading test, encountered an unfamiliar word in a literary passage, the word 'superfluous.' Initially, the word just seemed confusing. She wanted to check the word in a dictionary, but remembered that she wouldn't be able to take a dictionary to the official GED test site. And she had learned in her online GED class how to look for context clues to find word meanings, especially if the word seemed to be key to the passage. Maria found three words that seemed to point back to 'superfluous.' One word was 'extra,' another 'over-abundant' and the other 'excessive.' Maria also saw that superfluous had a root of 'super,' which seemed very similar in meaning to the other three words. So she was sure that she was right. Her dictionary confirmed it.

Through the next few weeks, Maria began using new words she was learning during conversations. After a short time, these new words came to her more naturally -- she developed complete ownership of her new knowledge. Not only was her vocabulary expanding, she discovered that it became easier to move through Language Arts passages. Her feedback scores were climbing. Also, the essay portion of the exam suddenly seemed much less challenging.

Maria was delighted. She wasn't just pleased at her new ability; her studies now seemed more like a hobby instead of a chore. And she wasn't the only one impressed.


Maria's story is an excellent example of all three principles that speak to reinforcement of the learning process.

When Maria first encountered a difficulty, she controlled the speed of her learning. She moved through the material at her own pace. She used a test-taking technique she had learned to provide immediate feedback. And it wasn't a test that initially provided the feedback. Similar words provided the feedback she needed, and a dictionary confirmed it.

Then, Maria used her new knowledge. By using it in everyday situations and conversations, she quickly became the rightful owner of the knowledge. This new knowledge further helped her in her GED study program -- reflected in her test scores, improved critical-thinking skills and in a more willing attitude with benefits well beyond the GED.

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