It’s no wonder that you might be struggling to learn and retain information: School, college and perhaps even the internet never taught you about a key pillar of learning: Encoding. Keep reading and you’ll have everything you need to implement this learning method into your studies. We'll explore the transformative impact of encoding in the learning process and introduce you to a groundbreaking framework that will change the way you learn forever.
First, you’ll learn about WHY you should encode what you study. We’ll also cover HOW to encode.
Many learners consider spaced repetition and active recall as the ultimate techniques for mastering new information.
While spaced repetition and active recall are powerful tools for enhancing long-term retention and strengthening memory, they don't guarantee deep understanding if they’re not part of a bigger learning strategy. Relying solely on these techniques can lead to superficial learning, as it fails to address the importance of encoding information effectively and making meaningful connections between concepts.
To achieve true learning success, it's essential to complement spaced repetition and active recall with effective encoding strategies that promote higher-order thinking and encourage the formation of meaningful connections between concepts. By integrating these techniques, you'll not only recall information more easily but also gain a deeper understanding of complex topics.
When I first started learning Chinese, I was confident that spaced repetition would be the key to mastering the language. I diligently practiced flashcards and thought I was making progress. However, despite my efforts, I found that I was still struggling to grasp and remember the intricacies of the language.
That's when I stumbled upon a video by Justin Sung which emphasized the importance of encoding. His insights resonated with me, and I realized that I had been missing a crucial element in my studies – I wasn't putting enough effort into encoding the information: Engaging in higher order thinking to make meaningful connections between concepts is always necessary.
I decided to try implementing visual encoding techniques in my learning, and the “before - and - after” difference was astonishing.
By focusing on encoding, I was able to learn over 3,000 Chinese characters and reach a level of fluency that allowed me to chat confidently with my wife's Chinese family and friends. The concepts just 'clicked,' and my memory retention improved dramatically - a testament to the power of effective encoding in the learning process.
The key to effective encoding lies in visually organizing and connecting information. To achieve this, follow these four simple steps inspired by Bloom's Taxonomy, a well-established educational framework for organizing learning objectives:
1. Group topics: Organize related concepts, ideas, or terms into logical groups. This will help you create a mental structure and facilitate easier navigation through the material.
Example: When learning Chinese characters, group them based on their radicals. This allows you to see patterns and similarities among characters that share the same radicals, making it easier to understand their structure and meaning.
2. Connect topics: Establish connections between the groups you've created. This helps build a comprehensive understanding of the relationships between concepts. (Think: Concept Map)
Example: In the context of Chinese characters, identify and link characters that share common radicals, which may signify similar meanings or functions. By understanding these connections, you can more easily remember the characters and their meanings.
3. Make it flow: Ensure that there's a natural flow between the connected groups. This step helps solidify the connections in your mind, making it easier to recall information.
Example: With Chinese characters, arrange them in a way that visually flows from one to another based on their shared radicals or semantic components. This organization will create a mental map, making it easier to remember and retrieve the characters when needed.
4. Evaluate and prioritize: Assess the importance of each topic or connection, and prioritize them accordingly. This will help you allocate your time and energy effectively. (This article might help you here)
Example: When learning Chinese characters, focus on mastering the most frequently used or important ones first. By prioritizing characters with common radicals or those that appear in high-frequency words, you can build a strong foundation for further learning.
By implementing this visual encoding framework in your studies, you'll create a strong foundation for understanding and retention, making learning more efficient and enjoyable.
While the visual encoding framework offers immense potential for enhancing your learning experience, it's essential to be aware of the challenges that might arise during implementation. Here, we'll discuss some common obstacles and provide solutions to help you overcome them.
Challenge: Upfront effort
Implementing effective encoding strategies requires an initial investment of time and effort. This may seem daunting, but the long-term benefits far outweigh the upfront work.
Solution: Break the task into smaller, manageable steps, and tackle them one at a time. This will make the process more approachable and less overwhelming.
Challenge: It feels more difficult
Effective encoding demands active thinking and engagement with the material, which may feel more difficult compared to more passive learning methods you've used in the past.
Solution: Embrace the process of active learning and recognize that the feeling of difficulty is actually a sign of growth. Your brain is actively learning and processing information. Remember that the benefits of deeper understanding and better retention make the extra effort worthwhile.
Challenge: Implementing encoding strategies in practice
Learning to incorporate encoding strategies into your routine can be challenging, especially when you're new to even the idea of it.
Solution: Traverse, a learning app that combines flashcards, mind maps, and note-taking, can make it easier to integrate effective encoding into your studies. By providing a seamless platform to apply the visual encoding framework, Traverse can help you overcome these challenges and unlock the full potential of your learning.
By acknowledging and addressing these challenges, you'll be better equipped to successfully implement effective encoding strategies and reap the rewards of enhanced learning.
In conclusion, understanding and implementing effective encoding strategies can revolutionize your learning experience. We have debunked common myths surrounding spaced repetition and highlighted the power of encoding, providing you with the four-step visual encoding framework to enhance your understanding and retention of complex topics. Effective encoding not only improves your memory but also facilitates retrieval practice, making it easier to recall information when needed.
While implementing these strategies may seem challenging, the benefits of deeper understanding and enhanced memory far outweigh the initial effort. Traverse, the learning app that combines flashcards, mind maps, and note-taking, can be your ally in overcoming these challenges and making encoding an integral part of your learning process.
Take the first step towards mastering the art of effective encoding and unlock the full potential of your learning journey. Give Traverse a try and experience the difference for yourself!