5 Ways to Become a Better Learner

Written by Salina Jivani

Maybe you’re looking to acquire a new skill or polishing up an existing one. In either case, you know that, soon, you’ll be thrust into a virtual or actual classroom…and it’s been a while since you’ve been in a formal learning environment. It’s enough to give anyone the jitters. And understandably so. After all, you’re there to succeed, but you want to make sure you’re making the most of this opportunity and not falling flat on your face.

The fact that you’re anxious is an indicator that you’ll work hard to succeed, but follow these additional easy tips to achieve the most from your learning endeavors.

Understand the benefit

If you’ve voluntarily signed up for a course, it might be easier to identify its value or benefit, but if you’re strong armed into attending a work-related training, you may be attending begrudgingly and, therefore, be more reluctant to pinpoint an advantage to your participating. In either case, make sure you discover the underlying benefit of the classes or trainings. Think about what you’ll gain from them, how they’ll help set you above your peers or how they’ll give you a clear advantage that you’d otherwise miss out on. Understanding the value of your education or training will make it that much more priceless to you, enabling you to soak in information with a receptive, open and eager mind.

Set goals

Once you understand the training’s objectives, be sure to set specific goals for yourself. Think about what you want to acquire as a result of the training or what particular skills or knowledge you want to obtain as a result of your participation. Outlining these goals at the onset of the course will help you subconsciously work toward achieving them as you progress. But to make sure you’re on track, take notes and jot down milestones as you inch closer to your learning goals–and be sure to mark them as complete once they’re achieved.

Ask questions

Many people hesitate to ask questions, but doing so will only hinder your learning and understanding of concepts—which means you won’t be able to optimize your educational experience. If you’re anxious to speak up, take a deep breath, gather your thoughts and figure out exactly what it is you need clarity on, then ask away. It’s likely someone else has the same or a similar question but is having trouble gathering the nerve to ask.

Develop your skills and knowledge

Perhaps the most important component of all during your training is to acquire new knowledge or skill. But more importantly, be confident you’re clear on how you’ll be able to apply what you’re learning in a work setting or in the real world. Making the connection between learning the skill and how it will play out in actuality is perhaps the most vital piece of all.

Put it to practice

Finally, get to work on using what you’ve learned. Doing this ASAP is important for a few reasons. First, you don’t want to forget what you know while it’s still fresh in your mind—which is what will likely happen if you wait too long to use your newly acquired skills.

Second, you’ll be eager to know how effectively you’re able to extend your new expertise to the real world. And what better way to find out than to get hands on? Plus, putting things into practice will likely allow you to better connect the dots and have a deeper understanding of your newfound skill or knowledge, allowing you to perform it with improved confidence and assurance over time.

A word for the wise: it never hurts to have a trusted, experienced professional on hand (maybe a fellow buddy or colleague) in case you encounter any questions or hurdles along the way and require a trained eye to help you through.

Alongside these learning tips, I leave you a tid-bit of encouragment with a quote from Anthony J. D’Angelo: “Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.”

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