MBI - 414 Immunology Principles
Learning involves not only memorizing, but also or understanding the subject matter, especially at a conceptual level. Effective learning is active learning and requires that one employ critical thinking. Critical thinking is an active, sustained, cognitive effort directed at solving a complex problem, which requires integration of different sources of information, considering alternate perspectives, making critical judgments, and developing and testing hypotheses. These study tips will help you develop your capacity for critical thinking and therefore for active learning.
Familiarize yourself with the material to be covered during lecture. First, look at the syllabus, then skim the pertinent portions of the textbook. As you skim, jot down a map showing the major concepts that are covered and a vocabulary list of terms likely to be important to understanding these concepts (especially terms new to you). These activities will make you think about the topic and help prepare you for constructive listening and participation during class.
Read the relevant pages in the textbook. Now you are going for content, so it will help to generate an outline of the material, basing it on the concept maps you began when you skimmed the material earlier.
Take class notes, being sure you write enough detail to follow the logic and capture the concepts that form the basis of the lecture or discussion. Don't try to write down everything, it will interfere with your listening and understanding concepts.
Write new notes based on your concept maps, vocabulary lists, class notes and reading outlines. The object is not neatness, nor is it just reorganizing or categorizing the material (although these are important parts of the process); rather, it is the integration of this material and synthesis of concepts and models that allow you to truly understand the material. Write these notes in your own words, because that makes you assimilate the material and reflect on it, thus fostering understanding by building neural pathways with links between things you knew before and new things.
Analyze your notes rather than trying to just memorize them. It will, of course, be very important for you to remember the content, but that is not sufficient. Critical thinking about the subject material is needed to allow you to truly understand it.
To do this in a more effective manner, try these processes:
Form a study group of five or six people to use as a source of alternative perspectives, "sounding boards" and study partners. Keep "on task" when studying and remember to apply the principles of critical thinking throughout.