How to Learn Like a Pro!
Phyllis Nissila, Lane Community College
Pub Date: 2016
Publisher: Open Oregon Educational Resources
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This book gives an introduction to many topics related to study skills and effective learning strategies. There is a balance between text, outside read more
This book gives an introduction to many topics related to study skills and effective learning strategies. There is a balance between text, outside links and activities to engage students in each topic. Although this source does not cover each topic in depth, it does provide an accessible amount of information for students to start with and instructors could add to the coverage of topics as they desire. Glossary of terms included throughout the resource.
The source refers to a variety of learning strategies, theories and content that is relevant, but is not thorough in citing sources. The instructor is clearly experienced, however, and provides many examples, discussion prompts and activities that I believe students would find interesting and applicable to the learning environments they encounter. I did not find any errors that were distracting to my engagement with the content.
The content is very organized and students know what to expect in each module. Objectives are outlined and terms defined. All of this will make updates easy to maintain. However, all of the outside links that are incorporated may make upkeep of the resource a challenge.
I enjoyed the conversational tone of the resource. The instructor knows how to speak to students in a manner that is interesting and engaging. Because of this the text is accessible and I believe students would enjoy reading it. The text is not full of jargon or technical terms that are undefined. Examples are included and relevance is explained.
The text is consistent and clearly organized. There is specific instructions given to both instructors and students which is helpful. Each section includes an outline of the objectives and students are directed to focus on the learning goals of each section through the activities and links provided. There is a balance between text, graphics, links and examples that allows students to connect with the information in a variety of ways.
The resource is divided into 6 clear sections so it is easy to follow. Students will not be overwhelmed by each section as the text, activities and examples are divided up into manageable chunks. Visually students will see beginning and ending points to the activities or reading sections. The resource allows for stopping points so students don't get lost in the content. There are many points at which an instructor could pull in the activity responses, etc. to class to launch a good discussion in a classroom setting or online discussion board.
The organization is clear and easy to follow. The glossary of terms would be helpful for second language learners to review before launching into each new topic.
The interface is accessible and I did not have problems navigating the material. However, there are many outside links that may prove challenging for students to access over time or with limited internet access. You do have to do a lot of scrolling through the material. The graphics and photos all seemed intentional.
There were a few minor errors, but none that took away from the meaning of the content or overall presentation of the resource.
I found the resource to be relevant and inclusive of a variety of situations and potential viewpoints. I did not notice any glaring bias or insensitivity.
I believe many students who would benefit from the content of this resource. It encourages students to reflect on how they learn and how they can improve many skills related to learning effectively in a college environment. It asks students to be proactive and to take responsibility for their learning goals. This is information that would help to create a good foundation for students to work from - especially if they struggle with things like organizational skills, test anxiety, reading comprehension, etc. There are extra credit opportunities provided within the resource which some instructors may appreciate, but others who don't use extra credit may want to turn into actual required activities or not use at all.
While it would be impossible to cover ALL the learning theories available, the book does a decent job of summarizing some of those most commonly read more
While it would be impossible to cover ALL the learning theories available, the book does a decent job of summarizing some of those most commonly referenced by the average person. The author covers different perspectives of learning, addresses things that get in the way of learning, and offers suggestions about organizing information to aid in learning. There is a great deal of information included. The information is surface-level but can help build a good foundation for students who are transitioning into college and developing critical skills for learning.
There really isn't much research available (if any) to support the learning modalities, or similar categorizations, of being indicators of certain students being better able to learn in certain ways in all contexts. The 'types' are, however, good for encouraging students to practice more meta-cognitive behaviors as they think about the ways in which they learn and inspiring teachers to create more dynamic lessons that engage all the ‘styles’. I think too much credence is given to the learning modalities early in the book. Also, some links go to Wikipedia as opposed to a more research-based source.
Some of the links are more than 10 years old, but the book could be easily updated as new information becomes available. The images are very dated and/or uninteresting. I have heard students comment before about other texts, that the material must be outdated because the pictures are so old and then they don’t consider it valuable information.
Vocabulary words are defined and examples are given. Based on the language and complexity, it was written for the intended audience of high school or first-year college student. Links and suggestions for more information are included, however, some links are broken.
I struggled a little with the consistency, although some sections are labeled "to the instructor" I wasn't always sure to whom the author was speaking; me, as the instructor, or the student.
The book is divided into easily digestible sections that could be taught together or independently. There is a Table of Contents with well-labeled sections, making information in the book easy to find. However, most information requires linking to another resource, many of which could not be found.
The topics are presented in a logical path beginning with understanding of self. The rest of the text covers a range of behaviors that support capacity for learning, ranging from broadly applicable time-management techniques to more specific test taking strategies.
I had several problems with the interface and I know that would be a huge turn-off for my students. Depending on the format I chose, the appearance was completely different. The downloaded PDF was really hard to read, there were formatting problems, multiple blank pages, and the images were oversized and blurry. When I switched to a different browser, I was able to read a much cleaner version in the browser itself (necessitating that the student is connected to the internet while completing assignments). There are multiple references to the author’s college and the pre-packaged assignments that could be confusing out of context. Finally, there are references to links that I couldn’t find and links that do not go where they should have.
There are minimal errors with punctuation and numbers in text. The informal language is appropriate for the audience and content.
The text is culturally respectful, including a) a list of meanings that is available for ESL/International learners who may not be familiar with American idioms b) case studies representing multiple cultures and situations c) acknowledgement of non-tradition (older) students
I knew that the book was not going to be an exact match for my needs, but I had hoped to use it as an additional resource. I am worried that it would be hard for me to separate out the parts that I want my students to focus on, because of the assignments included in text, references to another campus, and number of links involved. That being said, I think is a nice, uncomplicated overview that would work well for a first year experience course. It is modular and the activities offer students opportunities to practice skills that they can later apply to their learning. Many of the problems I have with the text can be addressed and remedied by the instructor during class.
How to Learn Like a Pro! covers all the topics needed for a first-time college student to be successful. The way each chapter is organized makes it read more
How to Learn Like a Pro! covers all the topics needed for a first-time college student to be successful. The way each chapter is organized makes it easy to navigate the book and the topics. The book really highlights all the necessary information needed for someone who is just starting their educational journey. I found the topics to be right on point and relevant for the student population it will be serving. To many, this book might seem basic but when you think about the students who will be involved in the text and the assignments, you will see it makes perfect sense in the way it is set up and the topics it covers. For many of the students who will be using this book, the topics will also be discussed in other courses they will be taking, which is a great way to really reinforce these important concepts.
From my experience in teaching a course much like the one this book is intended for, I found the content to be very accurate and free of biases. I did not notice any errors in the content.
The topics presented are ones that won’t need to be updated as they are timeless and their relevancy will never be outdated. The book covers topics such as Learning Styles, Time Management, Critical Thinking, Listening and Note Taking, Memory, and Test Taking. If there were updates that needed to be made, they would be easy and straightforward to make and would still implement the topics in a relevant way.
As stated before, when looking at the population that will be using this book, the context in which terminology is presented is very adequate. Terms that are used in each unit are listed at the being of the unit along with definitions in order to help students as they read and apply each lesson. I found each unit to be presented in a clear and concise manner.
The framework is consistent throughout the book. The author follows the same format for each unit, which makes it easy to read. The units each include an overview of the topic, objectives, materials needed, a list of terms and a to-do list. The to-do list includes exercises that are assigned in each lesson. It also has a note at the end of each unit especially for instructors, which includes optional assignments/activities/extra credits opportunities for that unit.
What is nice about this book is it is broken up into six different units and within those units, it is broken up even more. For example, unit one is about learning styles and the unit is broken down into small topics within learning styles. For example, you will have Lesson 1.1: The Three Learning Styles, Lesson 1.2: Visual Learning, Lesson 1.3: Auditory Learning, Lesson 1.4: Kinesthetic Learning, Lesson 1.5: The Brain Dominance Theory and Lesson 1.6: Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Theory. What is nice is each lesson has a small reading and then an exercise that follows. It is easy to pull different lessons out of this book and use them in other classes.
The organization of this text book is very clear and it flows perfectly. I taught a course in Effective Learning last year and all the topics that are presented in this book are what I touched on and in the same order. The structure is set up so it starts by talking about how we learn and our learning styles in chapter one and ends by talking about test taking. All the units flow into each other and none of them seem out of place.
As part of the lessons you have to link to another website. It took me a long time to figure out how to do this as the link is part of the text, but it is not highlighted or underlined. Other than this, I found the images and charts to be very colorful and visually pleasing to look at. I really didn’t see anything that distracted me from the reading.
I did not find any grammatical errors in the text.
I didn’t find the book to have anything that I would say is culturally insensitive. You can tell it is aimed at community college students who come from all kinds of backgrounds. I think she does a good job of trying to capture as much diversity as possible in the text.
I really appreciate the time the authors put into this book. I wish I would have known about it last year when I was teaching an Effective Learning course as it would have been really helpful. I have found that I am able to use a lot of this material in my college reading course and I have found that students really enjoy the lessons and the activities that accompany them.
The book is aptly named and is designed to help readers learn effectively, or like a pro. It is a useful resource for first-time college students, read more
The book is aptly named and is designed to help readers learn effectively, or like a pro. It is a useful resource for first-time college students, specifically those at a community college or in developmental education courses. Critical skills such as time management, note taking, test taking, studying techniques, and reading comprehension are covered in an easy to read style. It does not provide an in-depth look at theory, but as the title states, that is not necessarily the purpose. Each chapter starts with an introduction and provides sample learning exercises. It clearly outlines what a typical quarter or term would consist of, including curriculum, weekly activities and projects. However, many of the examples and topics are covered with outside resources and links which could prove problematic. It would be possible though to use only the chapters or ideas deemed pertinent or to use specific lessons without causing too much confusion for students. An index is included, as well as a helpful glossary of terms.
The content seems to largely be based on the author’s own years of experience instead of empirical research. However, with over 30 years teaching the targeted audience it is apparent she has knowledge and insight to share. Students who have previously struggled in school or who are apprehensive about college may find the easy-to-read writing encouraging. However, a lack of in-text citations makes it difficult to verify sources and sets a poor precedent for students. The text has a few spelling errors, but there are not so many as to distract.
The topics covered are relevant for today. The text wonderfully addresses many challenges students face, but fails to discuss some current practices and theories. I would have liked fixed and growth mindsets, as well as grit to be discussed. It also would be helpful to have considered additional online learning activities. The use of outside resources will require regular reviews to ensure the text remains up-to-date.
The text uses clear language and for the most part avoids technical words or acronyms without explaining them. The informal writing style is appropriate for the intended audience.
The terminology, language, and framework were consistent throughout the text.
The book is presented in six topics, and includes a mid-term and final project. The author shares her thought process on the order of the chapters, but it is not necessary to follow the textbooks order. Especially if other topics were to be introduced separate from the book.
The topics are presented in a logical, organized and clear fashion with a pattern in each chapter that students would find helpful. I might present them in a different order to better fit the needs of the students being served. It is nice the book is structured in a way so it can be adapted to each instructor’s preferences.
As mentioned previously the use of hyperlinks can be cumbersome. This has the potential to be a challenge for students. Marking these more clearly would be helpful. Some of the images and activities were oddly placed and difficult to follow.
There are few grammatical errors.
This book covers diverse populations, especially non-traditional students, and considers many different scenarios found on college campuses. However, it should be noted this is a quickly changing population.
I would consider using this text for my college success class. I would most likely supplement and/or substitute certain chapters, but this is a terrific place to start. I appreciate the author’s time and sharing her vast array of experience.
The book is an effective primer for its intended audience without becoming too overwhelming. It assists learners hoping to develop critical skills read more
The book is an effective primer for its intended audience without becoming too overwhelming. It assists learners hoping to develop critical skills for student success (e.g., learning styles, time management, note taking, test taking, reading comprehension, memory). That being said, the book seems to rely on links to a lot of outside sources to truly explore those issues more in-depth. Also, it is worth noting that this book is more well suited to preparing students for a more structured college environment with more teacher-directed rather than learner-directed activities such as reading textbooks, taking multiple choice tests, etc. as opposed to more open-ended learning activities. Each chapter orients the reader to the topic with an introduction, several examples, and exercises that allow learners to apply what they've learned from the chapter and supplemental resources. Although the book includes a table of contents, it does not provide an index which might be helpful to the learner. Even so, the book does provide definitions of words throughout the text to assist with reading comprehension.
The content is accurate and draws from a variety of disciplines including psychology, development, teaching and learning although I cannot find a complete list of sources. There are, for the most part, in-text citations although a few are missing. There was only one time where I perceived bias but it did not negatively impact how I interpreted the information and I don't think it will negatively affect students. There were a handful of spelling errors throughout the book but they did not affect comprehension.
There are many elements of this book that will continue to be critical skills and be relevant over time such as time management, note taking, reading comprehension, and learning styles. Regardless of the context, forum or manner in which learners are engaged in the learning process, those topics will arguably remain important increasing the longevity of this book. Even so, there are areas that could be included that might enhance the book's relevance such as acknowledging the increasing importance of self-directed learning in less structured learning environments such as flipped or inverted classrooms. Addressing that reality as something that learners might experience could help prime them for that as well as develop skills for such settings. Also, knowing that might provide more of an impetus for mastering some of the skills discussed in this text. For example, comprehending reading is critical to solving more complex problems where learners might not be provided with explicit instructions (e.g., case studies) as opposed to multiple choice/short answer/essay tests where the parameters are more well-defined. The book also includes a few references to the campus at which the course is taught. Perhaps referring generally to the college campus and typical resources offered at a variety of campuses might also extend longevity and reach. Also, since the book relies on a number of outside links to supplement the learner with additional information, it would be necessary to check the links to ensure they are still relevant.
The book was easy to understand and definitions of critical words were largely provided. There were a few words that I thought could be defined for the benefit of the reader especially if choosing this text for a first- generation group of college students, but, for the most part, definitions were present and clear. The size of the text as well as the tone of the writing helped make the writing feel more approachable. There was only one section that I needed to read a few times to truly comprehend (ironically, this section was the reading comprehension section). That section describes different methods that teachers have used to help students to comprehend reading.
The text follows a consistent format that includes learning outcomes for each chapter, materials needed, pertinent definitions, explanatory text and exercises. There are 3 units followed by a mid-term project and then another 3 units followed by the final project.
Because this book is very consistent in its structure, it would be easy to break into smaller sections to serve a different course. The text follows a consistent format that includes learning outcomes for each chapter, materials needed, pertinent definitions, explanatory text and exercises. There are 3 units followed by a mid-term project and then another 3 units followed by the final project.
The book's topics are presented in a logical, clear fashion that begins with helping the learner think about their own learning styles. Beginning with this topic makes sense since learning style will affect how the learner develops and uses the other critical skills mentioned in the book. Time management, then, helps orient the learner to thinking about how to allot their time in performing the skills. Note taking and reading comprehension are skills that are necessary for test-taking and the chapters follow in that order reflecting the academic preparation process.
The book includes learning activities and supplemental information provided through links and referenced within the text. At first, I thought that I was missing additional files for these activities. However, after assistance, I realized that the text was actually hyperlinked to outside websites. It would be much more helpful to have links underlined, colored, or highlighted in some way to differentiate them from the rest of the text especially when they are critical to the text. There were a variety of large sidebars that included interactive activities and reflection prompts which aided in application of concepts to personal experiences, which is a great asset overall. The placement of some of these were awkward with some of them being toward the bottom of the page with no text above them. They were also sometimes placed awkwardly in between different sections of text in a way that took away from the message of the words outside of the sidebar.
The grammar in this book did not detract from the message or my understanding of the information. Although the book can be informal in parts, it was approachable and I imagine would be helpful to learners fearful about these topics.
The book included a lot of different examples of possible living situations that students might find themselves in across a variety of social identities (e.g., age, race, ethnicity, gender). It is definitely well-suited for a community college with older students who may or may not parent or have work or family obligations. There was one reference to God in the world view section but it was an example of a potential student's situation. I am not sure if this would be offensive to learners individually or from specific cultural groups, but there was a string of examples around the topic of taxidermy (preparing and mounting dead animals).
I really appreciate the time the authors took to write and share their work! These are really critical skills for learners to develop to be successful in college and academia overall. The desire to help empower learners and help provide them access to important resources and opportunities is evident in this book.
The book covers topics superficially, without any depth or reference to theory. The book selectively chooses just a few random strategies to read more
The book covers topics superficially, without any depth or reference to theory. The book selectively chooses just a few random strategies to include. A lot of the content is incorporated just through links to external websites. I would be very worried that these website resources would change or move and no longer be accessible. The author misses many countless and effective strategies for improving learning.
The author promotes folk theories and ideas that have been proven false through systematic empirical research. Additional ideas are presented so simplistically that they ultimately end up being inaccurate. The author further mixes together theoretically different ideas together in a mish-mash of inaccuracies. In other cases, the author plays fast and loose with facts, even making up her own. For example, the author states a figure (95% of people) only to later state that this value is just a "hunch" rather than empirically true. I feel like about half of the author's statements are completely made up from her own specific intuitions, rather than research and theory. The author does not cite her sources, so it is impossible to judge the credibility of their statements. The author links to external websites which can have changing levels of accuracy and evolving content (like wikipedia).
I don't think this has longevity, as much of the content is just linked to on external websites, which would be very hard to update (or may be moved or changed without the author knowing).
The author uses complex sentences that I had a hard time parsing. The author uses acronyms without explicitly defining them. The author tries to present material (too) simplistically, so most jargon and technical terminology is explicitly avoided.
I think the text is consistent.
The author presents six different units, which could be studied independently. Further, the first three units are designed to have an exam after them, so they are complete without the second six units. There is some slight overly self-referential aspects to the book. For example, students are required to "annotate" throughout the book, but what that entails is only defined early in the book.
I was not sure why the book was organized in the way it was. It seemed haphazard how the text moved from one idea to the next.
Terms are defined at the start of each unit, but the definitions run together and are hard to parse. The book references links which do not exist in this interface. Other times, I would stumble upon a link to a website, but these links were not marked. Given the prominence that web links play in this text, I think they need to be marked more clearly (or the external resources could be included in this text too). On page 81, it says : "Click on the thumbnail for a full-size view" multiple times, but there are no thumbnails.
The book is written as one might spontaneously talk. Grammar is not a top priority of this friendly style of writing. Words are used improperly and punctuation is sometimes used improperly.
The text references cell phones and social media addictions. The text is aimed specifically at community college students and addresses the needs and culture of that specific group. The text does include a section on older adults' learning, which is one explicit reference to diverse students.
This book was clearly designed for a specific course at a specific institution (it references the course and the specific college repeatedly). Many references are made to resources that are not included within the book and are hard to find on their own. The text seems to be one specific person's ideas about how to best learn, rather than what research suggests are the best ways. I would never recommend this text to anyone.
Table of Contents
Unit 1 Overview--Learning Styles and Preferences; Unit Terms
Lesson 1.1: The Three Learning Styles
Lesson 1.2: Visual Learning
Lesson 1.3: Auditory Learning
Lesson 1.4: Kinesthetic Learning
Lesson 1.5: The Brain Dominance Theory
Lesson 1.6: Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligences Theory
To the Instructor: Optional Assignments/Activities/Extra Credit Opportunities for Unit 1
Unit 2 Overview--Management of Time, Tools, and Study Environment; Unit Terms
Lesson 2.1: World View and Self Efficacy
Lesson 2.2: Procrastination
Lesson 2.3: Schedules and Scheduling
Lesson 2.4: Graphic Organizers and Study Cards
Lesson 2.5: Study Areas and Study Groups
To the Instructor: Optional Assignments/Activities/Extra Credit Opportunities for Unit 2
Unit 3 Overview--College Level Critical Thinking and Reading; Unit Terms
Lesson 3.1: Comprehending College Level Reading by Using the Reading Apprenticeship Approach
Lesson 3.2: Getting the Most Out of Your Textbooks
Lesson 3.3: Patterns and Context Clues
Lesson 3.4: Close Reading for LiteratureTo the Instructor: Optional Assignments/Activities/Extra Credit Opportunities for Unit 5
Lesson 3.5: Math and Science--Tips for Better Comprehension and for Studying
To the Instructor: Optional Assignments/Activities/Extra Credit Opportunities for Unit 3
Unit 4 Overview--Listening and Note-Taking; Unit Terms
Lesson 4.1: Note-Taking Part 1, Listening
Lesson 4.2: Note-Taking Part 2, Key Information and Formats
To the Instructor: Optional Assignments/Activities/Extra Credit Opportunities for Unit 4
Unit 5 Overview--Memory Principles and Techniques; Unit Terms
Lesson 5.1: Memory Model and Techniques
Lesson 5.2: Memory as We Age
To the Instructor: Optional Assignments/Activities/Extra Credit Opportunities for Unit 5
Unit 6 Overview--Test-Taking: Pre, Mid, and Post; Unit Terms
Lesson 6.1: Pre- Mid- and Post-Test-Taking Strategies
Lesson 6.2: Handling Test Anxiety
Lesson 6.3: Understanding Test Items
About the Book
How to Learn Like a Pro! features the “big six” effective learning/study skills topics: learning styles and preferences, time and materials management, critical thinking and reading, note-taking, memory principles, and test-taking techniques. Each of the six units featuring a total of twenty-three lessons and accompanying exercises (with a dash of humor here and there) were developed with the diverse student body of the community college in mind as well as learners in other educational venues.
About the Contributors
Phyllis Nissila is a Professor in the Academic Learning Skills department at Lane Community College (all campuses), Eugene, OR.