Books on Learning

I recently read two great books on learning. I was expecting the first, A Mind for Numbers, to help me coach and advise students. I hadn’t realized that the second, Ultralearning, would also help me in that way.

Both talked a lot about learning theory, including the inefficiency of many of the tactics that students often use to study (e.g. highlighting, re-reading texts, etc). I am starting to teach this stuff more in my class, since this is material that students often haven’t seen before. One of my students wrote to me to tell me that she was confused about how an article I had them read related to statistics. I told her that the article wasn’t about statistics, but it was about how to learn statistics, which is an important part of this course.

Ultralearning referenced The Unschooled Mind, by Howard Gardner of “multiple intelligences” fame. I just got that from the library, and I am looking forward to it even though I am skeptical that his theory of multiple intelligences is useful.

I particularly think that A Mind for Numbers should be required reading for all college students. The title suggests that it is geared toward math and science students, but the advice is so general that all students will benefit. I am going to assign it to my advisees.

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