The scientific way to learn a new skill twice as fast

skill

Traditional skill learning

Learning a new skill is something everybody should face in their later life.

It can get you a promotion, take you into a new field of work and develop and strengthen your brain. The issue, in todays fast paced world, is time.

When we think about learning, we think of sitting at desks, drilling information into our brains through repetition. This method of learning is called the “blocking” strategy. This instructs us to go over a single idea again and again (and again) until we’ve mastered it, before proceeding to the next concept.

Not only is this incredibly exhausting (and boring) but several neurological studies now show it to be an inefficient way to learn. (yay!)

Science and skill retention

Scientists recently exposed that contrary to popular teaching methods, doing the same thing over and over again might not be the most efficient way to learn foreign concepts. Instead, (thankfully!) there is a quicker (and more enjoyable) way to learn a new skill.

“What we found is if you practise a slightly modified version of a task you want to master, you actually learn more and faster than if you just keep practising the exact same thing multiple times in a row,” said lead researcher Pablo Celnik, from Johns Hopkins University.

The study asked 86 volunteers to learn to a new skill. The skill was moving a cursor on a computer screen by squeezing a small device, instead of using a mouse.

The volunteers were split into three groups, and each spent 45 minutes practising this.

Six hours later, one of the groups was asked to repeat the exact same training exercise again, while another group performed a slightly modified version of the same task.

At the end of the training period, everyone was tested on how accurately and quickly they could perform the new skill, the results starkly showed that the group that modified their training did twice as well, on performance, as those who’d repeated the exact same skill. They remembered more and performed the task better.

Why? Scientists believe it’s down to something called reconsolidation, which is a process whereby existing memories are recalled and modified with new knowledge.

The results are important because they show how simple manipulations, during skill learning, can lead to more rapid and larger motor skill gains. Further, whilst scientists has often supported the reconsolidation method of learning there were no concrete facts supporting it’s learning advantages, until now.

**An important note to take away is that whilst the results show modification can speed up learning by up to 50%, the modification must be subtle or it can have adverse effects to the learning process.

Author: Leila Mezoughi

Leila is PCA’s Head Editor and Researcher. She holds a 1st class Law with Business degree and became a published author at 25. Former crime investigator turned business journalist. On a mission to show businesses that presenteeism is a thing of the past. Everything seems impossible until it’s done. Typically found working from a white beach in South-East Asia embracing rapidly changing technology.

Like
Like Love Haha Wow Sad Angry

comments powered by Disqus

Share this blog

Our Posts

Self awareness; why we do what we do

Self awareness is the key to unlocking your full potential.We can either discover our deepest...
Read more

Visualisation techniques for success

Visualisation of your goals (a.k.a daydreams of you being a superstar) actually gets you to your...
Read more

8 Common traits of the worlds most successful people - it takes 8 to be great

Whilst each persons path to success is different, the world's most successful people share some...
Read more

One simple trick to boosting your memory

Can you remember what happened 3 days ago? It's difficult for us to pin down the value of our working...
Read more

The psychology of charisma - what charismatic people have in common

Charisma is the ability to attract, charm, and influence the people around you. There are people...
Read more
The scientific way to learn a new skill twice as fast - PCA LAW