The Art and Science of Learning Craft  


Learning Biases

Ask any student

1. How much time he spends on studies ?

2. How much time he spends on learning ?

One will answer "4 or 5 hours a day on an average".

Same answer for both the questions. Are the questions same ?

No, there is very little correlation between the time spent on studies and the quantum of information memorized / learned in that period.

Our learning process is often, negatively affected, by our inherent and innate Memory biases and learning biases.

Postponement of examinations is common. its opposite is unheard of. If ever that happens i.e if students were asked to write exams all of a sudden, just 4 days before the announced date, what happens ?

If it is me, I am sure, will fail, for I pride myself of mastering speed reading skills and start reading always, at the eleventh hour; as to the others reckon many students score less (at-least 20% to 30%).

If we are learning 20 to 30 % on last few days before the exam what is that we are learning through out the academic Year ?

This learning bias is known as Students Syndrome and is the result of procrastination. Another effect of this bias is;

If we are to write, the same exam after 4 or 5 days we get 20% to30% less marks than before, for the information learned in this way is only stored in short-term memory, as such is short lived.

There is one other bias similar to the above, but its cause and the resultant effect were different.

While investigating learning biases, before writing this page, I asked many students, 3 months before the exams, this question. I took a subject having 15 chapters and asked them;

As 3/4th of academic year is completed, how many of these  15 chapters you learned completely, that you can write the exam with out referring to the text book again ?  None could say they could write one, with out looking up again, the text book.

There is one peculiar phenomenon that one can observe in students performance, which is not just a riddle but is a paradox.

In students community we find some are bright, always get good grades, some are of average achievers who get lesser marks. the perplexing part is the performance levels, remain the same for the student, through out the career. Whether the examination is tougher one or a easier one; or whether they get more or less time to prepare, has no effect on their marks. they always get the same percentage of marks.

As an example I cite my career graph. Throughout my educational career I got around 50% to 60% of marks. never ever got above 70% nor failed in any exam. In some unit tests only 4 chapters are covered , I got 20 day to read and in some, 8 to 10 chapters I have to cope up within a week. I have faced exams where many voluminous books need be covered and some easier ones: but always I scored, a bit more or less, same percentage of marks.

There is one temple in Mangalagiri, a town in A.P, India. the presiding deity over there is lord 'Narasimha' and is  known as 'Panakala Swamy' ('Panakam' is Jaggery syrup in Telugu, and is offered to the deity). Here we can witness a miracle every day. the god drinks only half of the syrup offered; if a big vessel full is offered he drinks half of it and if a small tumbler of syrup is offered he drinks only half of it.

It is a real time miracle, to others, not to me, for, what the deity does with the syrup, I do with what I am to learn. I always, manage to learn exactly 60% of the material & score 60 marks.
Am I programmed by birth to read only that many hours, and memorize exactly that much of information that ensures me only 60% of marks in a given exam ?

It simply means, the cumulative affect of all the biases , I am subjected to, results in 40% reduction in marks. It remains the same. Till I identify and learn to detour these biases, My performance remains the same.   
writing of this page is in progress. please visit again in 3 days.

                                                                                 Students Syndrome