Methods and Mental Processes

We can think of a method or strategy as an observable action. Previewing a text before you read it entails reading the introduction, flipping through the text scanning key sections and diagrams, and reading the conclusion is an example. The two-column or Cornell method of lecture notetaking also has observable moves.

But, what’s most important about any method or strategic approach is not the observable action, but the internal mental operations or processes. To develop effective approaches to learning actively attend to your mental processes.

For example, as you preview the text search for and identify the main argument or topics, look for and ‘chunk’ key parts as well as the logical structure or organization of the text, read key sections through the ‘lens’ of the course to see connections to other texts and the lectures, and actively tie together or connect what you’ve learned into a whole by jotting down a quick summary.

Gaining metacognitive awareness of your mental processing when learning and then using that understanding to strategize is probably the single most important part of developing an effective approach to learning in any situation.


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