MBI 111 - Microorganisms and Human Disease
Study Tips for Active Learning
Education is acquisition of the ability to utilize knowledge.
Therefore, active learning involves both memorizing
and 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.
The following study tips will help you develop your
capacity for critical thinking and therefore for active
- Familiarize yourself with the material to be covered
during lecture. Skim the pertinent portions of the Study Guide and
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).
Skim the appropriate informative article, again
mapping out the concepts and defining new terms. These activities
will make you think about the topic and help prepare you for
constructive listening and participation during class.
- 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;
this will just get in the way of your listening and understanding
concepts. It might be helpful for you to print the Study Guides and bring them to class so you will know what you do not need to include in your class notes.
- Read the relevant pages in the textbook,
the Study Guide, and any Assigned Articles.
This time, you are going for content, so it will help to generate
an outline of the textbook material, basing it on the concept maps
you began when you skimmed the material before class.
- Write new notes based on your concept maps, vocabulary
lists, class notes, study guide, 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
- 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 to:
- Be curious ... seek to know as much as possible
about the topics at hand.
- Look for connections among facts, ideas and
- Visualize the concepts ... linking them to
images will help you remember concepts and grasp both
individual concepts and connections among them more
- Generate analogies to couple new material to things
you knew previously.
- Form a study group of five or six people to use as a
source of alternative perspectives, "sounding boards" and study
partners. Remember, there is great strength in diversity,
and be sure to include people from diverse
backgrounds as well as both genders in your study
group. Keep "on task" when studying and remember to
apply the principles of critical thinking throughout!
© 1995-2013 John R. Stevenson. All Rights
questions and comments to:
R. Stevenson, Ph.D.
Department of Microbiology
Oxford, Ohio 45056
This document was last modified on Thursday, 20-Dec-2012 17:31:38 EST