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

Deep Teaching Solutions via Coursera


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 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.) A related course by the same instructors is Uncommon Sense Teaching. To join the fully translated Portuguese version of the course, visit: To join the fully translated Spanish version of the course, visit: To join the fully translated Chinese version of the course, visit: To join the fully translated French version of the course, visit :


  • 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


4.9 rating, based on 25,324 Class Central reviews

4.8 rating at Coursera based on 88914 ratings

Start your review of Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects

  • Anonymous
    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 shou…
  • Jayne McCormack
    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). Terre…
  • Anonymous
    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 puttin…
  • 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 producti…
  • Anonymous
    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 per…
  • Fantastic course. No wonder it's so popular. It's thorough, engaging, cleverly challenging and most importantly leaves you longing to keep learning for life. I cannot recommend it enough. As a taste thereof (that will hopefully help you gauge if it'…
  • 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 overcomin…
  • Excellent MOOC, excellent Instructor great content overall. The instructor was clear, precise and concise in presenting and delivering the material. The material was great, great insights backed by research. Assignment and Quizzes were on point an…
  • 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 per…
  • Anonymous
    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 procrast…
  • Anonymous
    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 foc…
  • Yes, with my best possible truthfulness, honesty & sincerity (if I have those virtues to a satisfactory degree), I should, nay; must attest this most valuable course as an extraordinarily helpful one I ever have completed. Additionally, aspirationa…
  • Anonymous
    "Learning How to Learn" is one of Coursera's most popular courses, created by Dr. Barbara Oakley and Dr. Terrence Sejnowski. It offers a comprehensive overview of key techniques and principles aimed at helping individuals improve their learning abil…
  • I really really am so happy I stumbled across this course on my coursera journey. I have always had a hard time learning and remembering, and people always said, it's easy, you can do it, all you have to do is just focus, focus, focus. I kept hearing those words until they lost meaning to me. Now after taking the course, I know how to focus and how to not procrastinate(I know know the spelling off-hand! Haha!) Thanks to Barbara and Terrence for making this course so lively and informative and interesting. Much love from your Nigerian Student. Thank you so much, God Bless you and your family, And Coursera for being a very platform for learners to not feel lost, God Bless every Coursera personnel and keep each and every one of you, Amen.
  • Anonymous
    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 int…
  • Anonymous
    I am on a self-teaching path towards becoming a software engineer with no formal training in college-level math or Computer Science. One of the main frustrations that I was having was my inability to problem-solve effectively or coming up strategies…
  • Overall, A decent a well thought out course. Thank you to everyone who put together and presented the information.

    If you are someone interested in developing their learning capabilities, this is a good first step; ultimately - this subject of Learning how to Learn gets deeper than you could imagine.

    Take care, Isaiah
  • It kept me engaged and I enjoyed the course. I especially enjoyed the tips for recall and the suggestions for test taking. As a person who in the past made frequent use of a highlighter, I will be glad to throw them away and stop degrading the pages of books no matter how much I detest the subject matter. I am once again excited about learning and am looking confidently to the future, and absorbing as much useful information as possible to move the human race ever further down the pre-ordained path of knowledge of not only human nature but our world and those beyond as well.
  • I think learning is essential and this course is key to improve my career. After learning how to learn you can learn anything using techniques methods which they taught in this course. I am really happy to attended this course. There is a lot of explanation about learning Understanding, focus, gaining context is the key aspects and whatever you are learning consistency and testing yourself, not fooling yourself is must. Methods used to learn make long term memory, and creative thinking all about learning is in this course. I am so grateful.
  • O curso é ótimo aborda muitas técnicas e e sugestões de melhoria no aprendizado não só pra o estudo como para todas as áreas da vida.
    A minha única sugestão é que no vídeos os professores incentivem de alguma maneira os alunos tomarem nota desses pontos para unir no final, pois quem vem aqui buscar o curso pode ter um ou todos os problemas de foco e concentração , sendo assim essa sugestão, ou fazer um apanhado mais simplificado para que todos consigam acompanhar e tirar proveito do curso o qual é riquíssimo.
    Os vídeos extras e os artigos são maravilhosos

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