How to Study Jon Ahlquist, [email protected]Whatever the subject, you will learn faster when you are an active participant and work hard. Practically every semester when I teach MET1010, a student comes to me after the first exam and says, “I don’t understand why I did so poorly on the exam. I really thought I understood the material.” The first few times I taught MET1010, these stories seemed like fabrications designed to earn sympathy, but I heard the same story so many times that I became convinced the students really believed what they were saying, despite the fact that a little oral quizzing confirmed their lack of understanding. After thinking about these students who think they understand material when they don’t, I’ve come up with a possible explanation. They may be “armchair students” in the same sense that television has created “armchair judges” of figure skating. These people can judge someone else doing something (a figure skater or a professor), but they can’t do it themselves. When they listen to a class lecture, they can tell when it makes sense, but when, in an exam, they are figuratively required to strap on their skates and show their own leaps, they can only jump to conclusions, which are often wrong.
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