Why Many University Students Hate Lecture Notes

Filed Under (NLP for learning difficulties) on 01-12-2014

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The answer is simple: because they find the content of lecture notes, textbooks, and study materials hard to take in.  This is demotivating because students see no progress in learning, feel the struggle… So how can NLP help?

You picture what you read

Have you ever thought about the simple fact that you enjoy reading a story because you make internal pictures or movies of the plot as you read?  Exactly the point!  While stories contain lots of concrete nouns [=words that describe people, places, objects, colors] and action verbs [words that describe what people or objects do = action], lecture notes and study materials for students in higher education have very few concrete and loads of abstract nouns [descriptions of states, intellectual concepts, jargon pertaining to the subject of study] and very few action-oriented, but lots of nonspecific, auxiliary, or passive verbs.  Concrete nouns and action verbs in stories are easy to visualize. Abstract nouns, compound auxiliary, and nonspecific verbs in study materials have no pictures.

To give you an example, here’s a story:

I’m walking down a quiet country lane.  Nobody around, just me in my jeans and walking boots, squeezing a half-full bottle of water in my hand.  It’s a pleasant day, the birds are twittering, the trees are gently whispering the rustle of their leaves.  Suddenly I hear a noise in the distance.  It sounds like a motorbike or a car.  And then I notice it’s getting closer and closer.  Before I realize it, it whizzes past me…

What whizzed past you as you were imagining this while reading the excerpt?  And what color was it?

And here is an extract from a study material:

The dissociation process is not always effective and often other things must be done to deal effectively with these kinds of problems.  In this particular case, however, the process was extraordinarily effective and there were very few repetitions of the common patterns of emotional breakdown.

I believe I’ve proven the point!  And the same applies to legal, corporate, and business documents – as I wrote here.

So university student, help yourself while studying:

  • visualise as much of the content you read as possible! Use symbols, things, places, people, colors for abstract nouns.  Go with whatever first comes to mind.  That’ll be significant to your brain – otherwise it wouldn’t come first!
  • Verbs are slightly easier – the brain finds even the passive verb more digestible.  But you can easily convert passive verb into active verb.  So convert passive to active as much as you can!
  • And once you have clusters of concepts, put them into a story.  Make up a movie like a film director. Your brain will have some visual representation of what you’re reading that makes sense to you and that will be an easy anchor to remember and retrieve.
Would you like more NLP help in this area? Let’s talk.

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