What are Learning Hacks?

Learning hacks are short summaries of rigorous learning science research that are approachable for first-year college students and provide simple actions students can take to improve how they learn. In a few minutes, students can learn a new skill that will save them time and has been empirically shown to improve their learning.

Why are Learning Hacks Important?

We know that students aren’t always interested in learning for the sake of learning. While students may find some of their classes interesting, there may also be some that they are just trying to get through because they have to take them. We also know that many are trying to balance classwork with a job (or jobs), childcare, and other responsibilities. We get it. We want to help students learn what they need to learn to achieve their goals in the most efficient manner possible.

Understanding a little about how to learn can save students time. We’re not asking them to dig into the research. We’ve done that for them – and summarized the research for them in a way that hopefully enables them to put it into action. Remember, we’re trying to save students time as they learn more effectively, not cost students more time!

Helping students learn more effectively is especially important with the uncertainty around delivery modes and types of instruction caused by COVID-19. We hope that these “learning hacks” will provide additional support to disadvantaged students who may not have previously had online learning experiences or may need to be more efficient in their studying due to other stressors in their lives.

What Do Learning Hacks Look Like?

The learning hacks each follow a consistent format: The Hack, The Story, The Research, and The Source. The action to take at the top (the hack) makes it easy for students to know what to do to improve their learning, the story provides a real-life example of the hack in practice, and the research and source provide an approachable summary of the relevant learning science research and pointers to where students can learn more if they’re interested.

image of learning hack, what's the best use of my (limited) time? image of learning hack, the myth of multitasking

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If you are curious to see what’s coming, you can see the complete list of learning hacks below. We hope these hacks help students not just in this class, but in all of their coursework.

  • What’s the best use of my (limited!) time?
  • Does mindset really matter?
  • How often should I be studying?
  • Should I ask for help?
  • How should I study across topics?
  • The myth of multitasking
  • Learning styles
  • Don’t bother highlighting

Note: Learning Hacks is a new feature in the following Waymaker courses: Introduction to Business, Principles of Marketing, and Introduction to Psychology.