In my journey to better understand how I learn so that I can improve upon my study skills and learn new ones, I found an amazing book by Dr. John Pelley, a professor and advisor at Texes Tech University School of Medicine. Dr. Pelley noticed that many first-year medical students – who had excellent grades in their undergraduate careers – were struggling in medical school.
Ten percent of these students were struggling so much that they had to repeat courses and exams. In reading about his observations of medical students, I came to realize that I was terrified of something similar happening to me. In fact, in the first few pages of his book, Dr. Pelley recommended that medical students should work to improve their study habits before beginning medical school. Although I am still unsure if I want to continue pursuing medical school, I know that developing my study habits and thinking skills will benefit me regardless of what career I choose.
Dr. Pelley’s book is called SuccessTypes In Medical Education: A Program for Improving Academic Performance, and although it is geared towards medical students, he makes a point that students of any discipline could highly benefit from his book. After reading it, taking notes, and going through the exercises he presents, I completely agree. Unlike other books about study strategies that I have read, he does not give you vague advice or tips to try (e.g. manage your time). Instead, he gives you concrete things that you can actually do to really boost your learning based on what he calls your “SuccessType.” His approach is quite unique: he combines the Myers-Briggs personality types with common learning preferences to determine what learning preferences you have, and what learning skills you can improve upon.
To determine which of the possible SuccessTypes you are, Dr. Pelley devised a list of questions to answer (there are 28 questions) and evaluate your learning type based on question category. Upon answering all of the questions and figuring out my score, I learned that my learning style matched ISTJ (introvert/sensing/thinking/judging). If you are interested in taking the Learning Style Type Instrument, click here!
Thanks to Dr. Pelley’s book, I have learned a lot about my learning strengths as well as my “possible strengths” (not “weaknesses,” which is a lovely way of looking at it) as well as how to improve the latter. To make my goals easier to visualize and achieve, I have made a summary of these areas that need improvement – organized by skill type.
- In order to see the “big picture,” I will: think about and paraphrase my knowledge out loud.
- In order to stay open to new information, refine my knowledge, and seize new opportunities to study differently, I will: work in groups with other students.
- In order to learn integratively and develop my intuition, I will:
- Make concept maps to find relationships between pieces of information (e.g. cause-and-effect relationships) and organize what I am learning to make information recall and deduction easier.
- Be more patient with difficult material.
- Verify my knowledge after each study session well before exam dates.
- Learn to analyze exam questions beyond their literal context using the question analysis strategy outlined in Dr. Pelley’s book.
- In order to maintain high motivation while studying, I will:
- Bring in personal values to make learning relevant and more fun.
- Use my imagination to come up with fun metaphors and analogies to make information recall easier.
Dr. Pelley’s book is truly a godsend, and I am very glad that I have found it sooner rather than later. If you are a student who wants to learn how to study better, don’t hesitate to read this book! You can access an e-book version of the book for free at the SuccessTypes website, here!
Thanks for reading, stay tuned for more cool things! :)