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Science of Learning

Learning is your ability to gain new knowledge, skills, or experience. Your fulfillment and success rely to a large degree on how well you learn; it is a bedrock on which you will build a foundation for the rest of your life.

Learning is a natural skill. Babies and young children rapidly learn because they are not afraid to make mistakes and try out new strategies until something consistently works. Teenagers and adults who have a high tolerance for frustration and continue trying out new concepts can also learn quickly. Unfortunately, grades and measured job performance create a culture where mistakes are not appreciated, playfulness is not encouraged, and it is safer to stick with tried-and-true strategies. As you go through the Academic Life Coaching program your coach will help you tap into the creative playfulness which is optimal for learning.

The grades you earn are not a reflection of your intelligence. Instead, grades are a reflection of the system and habits you use to learn. Change your learning habits, and you will change your grades. The following three concepts adopted into your learning habits boost your long-term learning.

Although most schools’ structure and grading systems go counter to these concepts, you can still incorporate them into your study habits. Because the Academic Life Coaching program is a life coaching program, the information about learning styles must be assimilated into action and designed jointly by you and your coach. Your Academic Life Coach will have some specific suggestions for how to best integrate learning styles into a study method. It is up to you to co-design the exercises to build your learning styles, as well as integrate them into your study habits with your coach. 

Those three concepts are:

      1. SELF-QUIZ

Asking yourself to recall information, aka retrieval, is the key to long-term learning. Self-quizzes, or tests, are most useful at the beginning and midway through the learning process. Unfortunately, most tests are given at the end of the process to see how much a student has learned. This is the least effective place for a test. Putting in effort in the beginning, is absolutely key to getting that concept into long-term memory. To further cement that concept in long-term memory, it is important to test yourself and the information you have learned. The Academic Life Coaching program uses the Academic Thinking Styles to organize and test your knowledge of a subject. Testing yourself on each concept’s definition, reason, and steps mid-way through the learning process is ideal for long-term learning.


The pervasive myth of learning styles is that if you are taught in your preferred learning style (visual, audio, or kinesthetic or VAK) then you will learn the information better. Many scientific studies have shown that matching instruction to a preferred style simply does not provide any boost to long-term memory or learning. However, engaging all your senses, especially using imagery to create a mental map of the concept along with visual or auditory memory cues, has been proven to boost long-term memory. Later in this coaching session, you will have the opportunity to gain more awareness of your VAK style as well as design actions to exercise all the styles.


One’s effort helps long-term learning. Repeating the same concept in rapid succession might seem like you are learning because you can repeat what you just read, but that kind of massed learning (aka cramming) is nearly useless in the long run. The ideal learning conditions are practice sessions spaced out just to the point where it takes some effort to work through the solution or remember the concept from the previous practice session. The process of retrieving fuzzy information from yesterday might feel like more work and be less encouraging, but in the long-run, that effort cements long-term learning. The Academic Life Coaching program relies on systems (which you will cover in the next ALC training session) to build short practice sessions into your daily and weekly study routine.


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