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Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects

All-Time Top 100

University of California, San Diego via Coursera

8505 Reviews 76262 students interested
Found in Self Improvement
  • Provider Coursera
  • Cost Free Online Course (Audit)
  • Session In progress
  • Language English
  • Certificate Paid Certificate Available
  • Effort 3-4 hours a week
  • Start Date
  • Duration 4 weeks long
  • Learn more about MOOCs

Taken this course? Share your experience with other students. Write review

Overview

This course gives you easy access to the invaluable learning techniques used by experts in art, music, literature, math, science, sports, and many other disciplines. We’ll learn about the how the brain uses two very different learning modes and how it encapsulates (“chunks”) information. We’ll also cover illusions of learning, memory techniques, dealing with procrastination, and best practices shown by research to be most effective in helping you master tough subjects.

Using these approaches, no matter what your skill levels in topics you would like to master, you can change your thinking and change your life. If you’re already an expert, this peep under the mental hood will give you ideas for: turbocharging successful learning, including counter-intuitive test-taking tips and insights that will help you make the best use of your time on homework and problem sets. If you’re struggling, you’ll see a structured treasure trove of practical techniques that walk you through what you need to do to get on track. If you’ve ever wanted to become better at anything, this course will help serve as your guide.

This course can be taken independent of, concurrent with, or prior to, its companion course, Mindshift. (Learning How to Learn is more learning focused, and Mindshift is more career focused.)

To join the fully translated Portuguese version of the course, visit: https://www.coursera.org/learn/aprender
To join the fully translated Spanish version of the course, visit: https://www.coursera.org/learn/aprendiendo-a-aprender
To join the fully translated Chinese version of the course, visit: https://www.coursera.org/learn/ruhe-xuexi

Syllabus

What is Learning?
-Although living brains are very complex, this module uses metaphor and analogy to help simplify matters. You will discover several fundamentally different modes of thinking, and how you can use these modes to improve your learning. You will also be introduced to a tool for tackling procrastination, be given some practical information about memory, and discover surprisingly useful insights about learning and sleep.

(Please note that this module should only take about an hour--the extra time quoted relates to purely optional activities.)

Chunking
-In this module, we’re going to be talking about chunks. Chunks are compact packages of information that your mind can easily access. We’ll talk about how you can form chunks, how you can use them to improve your understanding and creativity with the material, and how chunks can help you to do better on tests. We’ll also explore illusions of competence in learning, the challenges of overlearning, and the advantages of interleaving.

Procrastination and Memory
-In this module, we talk about two intimately connected ideas—procrastination and memory. Building solid chunks in long term memory--chunks that are easily accessible by your short term memory—takes time. This is why learning to handle procrastination is so important. Finally, we talk about some of the best ways to access your brain’s most powerful long term memory systems.

Renaissance Learning and Unlocking Your Potential
-In this module we’re going to talk more about important ideas and techniques that will enhance your ability to learn. You’ll also discover how to more profitably interact with fellow learners, how to recognize your own strengths, and how to avoid the “imposter syndrome.” Fighter pilots and surgeons use checklists to help them with their critical duties—you can use a similar checklist to help you prepare for tests. Ultimately, you will learn more about the joys of living a life filled with learning!

Taught by

Terrence Sejnowski and Barbara Oakley

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Reviews for Coursera's Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects
4.9 Based on 8505 reviews

  • 5 stars 90%
  • 4 stars 9%
  • 3 stars 1%
  • 2 stars 0%
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  • 1
Anonymous
5.0 4 years ago
Anonymous completed this course.
Before reviewing, I would like to note that I was a straight-A student in school, graduated Magna Cum Laude from university, and have taught myself both Japanese and Chinese. I love learning, hence why I took this course.

With that said, this should not be titled "Learning How to Learn", it should be titled "The Amazing Brain Science to Help You Make the Most of Yourself". I signed up for this course with the intention of using it to help me make the most of later courses I'd like to take, but I was shocked at how much of it is applicable in everyday life. I have many projects …
458 people found
this review helpful
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Jayne M
5.0 5 years ago
Jayne completed this course, spending 3 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be very easy.
A very useful course covering concepts behind how to learn effectively and efficently. Barbara Oakley is a warm and friendly presenter whose videos make a potentially dull subject fun and enjoyable (with the use of zombies, flying mules, etc). Terrence Sejnowski tends to do one main video a week, detailing more anatomical/medical aspects. I'd recommend it to anyone who is about to undertake some serious studying as it covers techniques such as overcoming procrastination and learning fallacies.

There is no statement of achievement for this course, which has caused quite a bit of upset and negativity on Coursera. If you wish to have a certificate, the only option is the (paid) Signature Track which requires extra assignments to be completed. If you can't afford the fee, Coursera do offer some assistance. Please check their FAQs for details.
179 people found
this review helpful
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Anonymous
4.0 2 years ago
Anonymous completed this course.
If you're like me, you probably thought that the steps to proper learning were obvious. And in a sense, they are obvious, so you'd be right. Those people who told you to stop procrastinating, start early, and try harder/smarter if you weren't putting in enough effort/reasoning were right. But most of those people who tell you those things only focus on trying to persuade you into doing better. They never tell you HOW to do it better.

If you're stuck in understanding the how of learning, this course is great in helping you figure that out (I mean, that's kind of what it's supposed …
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
Panos G
5.0 5 years ago
by Panos completed this course, spending 3 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be very easy.
This was one of the most rewarding courses I have taken. It's also very conveniently the most time-effective one because it teaches you a broad variety of tips and "cheats" for hacking into your own mind and making yourself feel and BE more productive.

In barely 4 weeks, and without any technical language (even the optional course book is written as if it were a friend talking to you!!) I've learned how to beat one of my biggest problems -procrastination , how to become more productive in the way I study (learn more in less time) , how to memorize things strongly and when to use …
113 people found
this review helpful
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Anonymous
5.0 2 years ago
Anonymous completed this course.
The farmer who wishes to maximize the yield from his crops could pursue the strategy of spending all of his working hours in directly maintaining his crops by hand. A superior strategy would be for the farmer to spend time inventing a tractor, a period during which he yields no crops, with the justification that once this tractor is completed the rate at which he will henceforth yield crops will outpace the rate at which he would be yielding them by hand. Given enough time, the net yield using the tractor strategy will catch up to and then soar past the net yield he would obtain if he continue…
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Anonymous
5.0 11 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
An excellent course, thoroughly worth the time taken to complete. I learned so much about the way our brains work, which gave me a completely new appreciation of the mind.

The messages are pretty simple: get a decent sleep, exercise, stop procrastinating, used spaced repitition, and chunk in order for your brain to better absorb the information taken in. It sounds easy, and all-too predictable when written this way, but there is so much more to each of these, and understanding that makes it much easier to spots the mistakes you make and the bad habits you've created. For me perso…
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Anonymous
4.0 4 years ago
Anonymous completed this course.
Dr. Oakley was fantastic. Sure, the videos are graphically simple, but she has done a great job of visually breaking up sections of her teaching by changing what you see on screen. She uses different combinations of camera angles and pictures to focus (and keep) your attention which helped me mentally organize the ideas presented. The course coincidentally provided me with tremendous tools to use to finally start to manage depression. The optional reading in the first week about depression, anxiety, ptsd sounded like I could have written it.

I had purchased the book, A Mind For N…
38 people found
this review helpful
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Anonymous
5.0 4 years ago
Anonymous completed this course.
Learning How to Learn is a wonderful course for any student, education professional or lifelong learner. The course itself is full of useful information and scientific evidence on the process of learning. I highly recommend watching the optional interviews and reading up on some of the optional readings, many of those are fascinating and worthwhile on your path of learning. Barb Oakley and Terry Sejnowski do a wonderful job presenting in an entertaining and concise manner, you can tell they are truly passionate about this subject and want nothing more than to help other learners to learn more …
19 people found
this review helpful
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Anonymous
5.0 a year ago
Anonymous completed this course.
it's very important and useful course

I really benefit from it

tasneem completed this course, spending 3 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be very easy.

A very useful course covering concepts behind how to learn effectively and efficiently. Barbara Oakley is a warm and friendly presenter whose videos make a potentially dull subject fun and enjoyable (with the use of zombies, flying mules, etc). Terrence Sejnowski tends to do one main video a week, detailing more anatomical/medical aspects. I'd recommend it to anyone who is about to un…
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
Ali P
5.0 2 months ago
by Ali completed this course, spending 6 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
This is the first real elaborated review I´ve done in my life. That´s the kind of impact this course can produce. I felt like I wanted to express my opinion about it and my gratitude. If you are someone who likes learning or teaching, or need to perform those activities in your everyday life for any reason, then you should take this course without hesitation. The information given is so valuable and eye opening. I personally like to read a lot and gain new knowledge about anything, but I always had that little feeling that I was not being truly efficient in doing it, that I was doing something…
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
Anita A
5.0 5 years ago
Anita is taking this course right now, spending 2 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
I am enjoying this course very much. I am interested in the content of the course more than the recognition for the course. I homeschool my children and they are all taking the course as well. Just because Coursera is not offering a free certificate of learning does not mean that I cannot give my students credit for taking the course. I have always been more interested in knowledge than in paper saying I have knowledge, so maybe I am unique in that mindset. I also believe that there is something for everyone in this course from beginners to advanced learners.
48 people found
this review helpful
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Vijayakumar N
5.0 5 years ago
by Vijayakumar is taking this course right now, spending 3 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.
Hi. This course clearly describes the complex process of how the human brain works while learning. Students get exposed to many new concepts : focused and diffused modes of brain functioning, working memory , short term memory and long term memory, learning techniques like chunking, spaced repetition, recalling in different environments, avoiding tendencies to procrastinate and so on. How the neuromodulators get released in the brain when you learn with motivation and how you can benefit out of that. Anyone can improve his or her learning habits by doing this interesting course. Dr Terrence Sejnowski and Dr Barbara Oakley are both excellent teachers. It is a highly recommended MOOC course.
43 people found
this review helpful
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Gregory S
4.0 4 years ago
by Gregory completed this course and found the course difficulty to be very easy.
Learning How to Learn is a 4 lesson self-paced course that summarizes key findings in neuroscience about how we learn. The course touches on brain function, working and long-term memory and various methods for improving learning as well as overcoming hurdles like procrastination.

The lecture content in learning how to learn is very good. Videos aren't too long, the lecturer is clear and personable and everything is easy to understand. There are more bonus/guest lectures than you'd see with a typical MOOC and I find engaging, memorable guest lectures are rare. Also, you can't full…
23 people found
this review helpful
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Sam S
5.0 2 years ago
by Sam completed this course.
The course was brilliantly done. From how a person receives input (sees it (visual), hears it (auditory), feels it/tries it/does it-hands-on (kinesthetic), to how a person perceives the input; the course describes in a very understandable way, how to harness the input by effectively using your ‘brain.’ Professors Oakley and Sejnowski describe how the brain works (focused mode & diffused mode; working memory and long-term memory; . . . ), and how anyone can improve their learning of anything—from very technical, to very artistic) by applying the techniques they present. (This is a very skeleta…
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Hugo A
5.0 2 years ago
by Hugo completed this course, spending 4 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.
At the very beginning the course seemed somehow easy and pretty basic. Nonetheless, once that you start understanding the biological reason about how and why we learn, you get the feeling that this course will definitively change your life. And that is exactly what has happened to me. Before this course I had the illusion that what I was doing was normal, I mean the way in which I was accustomed to learn. However, I had that sense that something was wrong with my approach. It turns out that my intuition was right because I was completely wasting my time while rereading or highlighting the mate…
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
José S
5.0 5 years ago
José completed this course, spending 5 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
This course is about how to learn more effectively, no matter what you are trying to learn. It is based on fundamental research into the workings of the brain and presents proven methods allowing the brain to work as it is supposed to. Surprisingly, some of quite common approaches to learning like re-reading, underlining important passages in text, banging your head against a problem until a breakthrough happens etc. are WRONG. From my own experience, I must say that I have met some of the obstacles created by wrong approaches, in particular I have been too often exclusively in focused mode, c…
15 people found
this review helpful
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Abhijith G
4.0 5 years ago
Abhijith completed this course, spending 2 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be very easy.
Material is very easy. You can watch most of the videos at 1.5x or more.

Nice material to validate techniques that you are following or correct your methodology if you are doing things the ineffective way.

Either way, its sort of a feedback for your learning methods. Of course, feedbacks themselves are subjective but useful for introspection.

If not anything, gives you reassurance that you are not alone when it comes to struggles during learning or solving problems :)
30 people found
this review helpful
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Amy W
4.0 11 months ago
Amy completed this course.
Fantastic course for individuals who may not have received education/information throughout their life on good study habits. I personally left high school in early 9th grade due to medical reasons, to never return. Going into college, I was terrified that I wasn't studying effectively, taking notes efficiently, and just generally not retaining what I genuinely WANTED to learn.

This course surprised me with how much I already knew about learning, but simply wasn't using as I didn't understand the impact. I was able to utilize the tips covered in this course not only for the course …
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Richa
5.0 4 years ago
by Richa completed this course, spending 5 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
This course was truly insightful. I have experienced a paradigm shift in the way I used to understand the process of learning. I had my own set of mental blocks that prevented me from enjoying the learning process. I had reached a point in my life where learning new concepts was more of a burden. And procrastination had started affecting most aspects of my life.this course has changed the way I look at learning. Thanks to the course, it's style, it's content, the instructors.. Learning has become joyful once again.i am really obliged to dr Barbara oaklay.. I will remember her as one of the most influential teachers it have come across in my life so far.

I highly recommend that all students and teachers take this course and make learning a joyful experience.

Thanks
18 people found
this review helpful
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Paul S
5.0 6 months ago
Paul completed this course.
Twenty years ago, I reached the pinnacle of my existing understanding of learning before I took this class. Early on, my creative mind allowed me to turn history books and other reading materials into colorful worlds of imagination. I can even do this with math texts. Unfortunately for me, this is simply high level comprehension, and I barely made it through college, receiving my Computer Science degree, after breezing through high school.

Pretty good, right? I've been healthily employed ever since, without issue. I believed that high level achievement in science and learning…
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
  • 1

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