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

Learner Reviews & Feedback for Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects by McMaster University

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73,023 ratings
20,722 reviews

About the Course

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 To join the fully translated French version of the course, visit : http://www.coursera.org/learn/apprendre-comment-apprendre...

Top reviews

OM
Apr 28, 2016

Great course. Took it since it was the most popular MOOC on coursera,. Have started using a few of the techniques and they are very effective. Highly recommended no matter who you are and what you do.

GG
Sep 9, 2016

This is a course which I enjoyed. It gave a good insight of the learning methodologies which we have often heard of but not given due importance. Also, the brain facts is cool :) My 5/5 to this course

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301 - 325 of 10,000 Reviews for Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects

By Tatyana N

Nov 9, 2019

Great course for everyone, even if you are not interested in learning. It will equip you with many techniques that you also can apply in your job or life. In the course, you can face several rather complex concepts, which initially seem difficult to understand. But the way Dr. Barbara Oakley and Dr. Terrence Sejnowski present the material makes them much easier to understand. They use good picture analogies and metaphors to explain the material. I'm not a native English speaker but I took this course and passed all tests successfully. It made me believe that I can do much more about learning, helped me not to give up when I was about to drop out of my English classes. I've learned that when you struggle with a new concept, you just need to approach it from a new angle to make understanding smoother. And it's very important to let your brain have a rest from time to time. Thanks for teaching me how to learn.

By Iryna S

Mar 18, 2018

The course have given me a great motivation and a lot good ideas, approaches to self-improvement and good news about my brain. For instance, doesn't matter your age or a talent to the current science, you can try to do something new and get success, if you learn effectively. The teachers Dr. Barbara Oakley and Dr. Thierry Sajnowsky based all them conclusions on them own experience and practices, so if they told regular exercises help to learn effective, I believe. Maybe that only one advice I haven't tried yet - it's a running, according to the extremely snowing weather in Kiev now... But I will do it with understanding of helpfulness for learning, switching mind mode and solving a difficult problem. If you finish the course, maybe you won't become a professor, but you get a keys for the progress in learning, planning working tasks, overcoming procrastination etc. So learn or don't, isn't a question now.

By Abdul B

Apr 24, 2020

LHL is my one of all time favorite MOOC. It helped me rethink my entire understanding of learning and equipped me with powerful mental tools (in all earnestness) that made my learning more conscious. To mention an example: I had the habit of writing down everything when I started learning something new. I will keep on writing down points to the extent that I feel I am comfortable with the subject in a short span. But I have wondered at a later point of time for myself unable to recall the subject/ topic. Only after taking the course, I learnt about being falsely confident about things when we are obsessed with writing.

Likewise, I could mention several personal benefits I received through the course. Another point worth mentioning is the weekly email from the team. It has useful recommendations of books and websites related to personal development.

Thank you team for bringing out this wonderful course.

By Gustavo M

Feb 2, 2016

Great course! Really helped me organize my thoughts and reduce most of the stress that I am going through in my life. It touched many interesting topics that I have learned to enjoy learning during high school and college, and it definitely touched them in a creative and quiet striking way. Many thanks to the professors, Mrs. Oakley and Mr. Sinowski (forgive me if I misspelled your names, but spontaneity brought me here and I can't go double check them! I'm sure you understand! :)), to the students that have shared ideas and contributed to some of mine own. I wish we used technology to build groups and share even more. I hope each and every one has enjoyed and learned as much as I did! Thanks to the University of California, San Diego, for such great content and beautiful package! Thanks to Coursera for providing such interesting topic and allowing me and people from all over the world to enjoy it!

By Alexandra B

Apr 29, 2018

This simple methodology can be transposed to any learning or problem-solving challenge. It not only gives you a structure but also helps you understand how learning and the brain work and how to make them more effective.

Pr Oakley is down to earth and explains very well. The course is well structured and she uses a lot of the techniques she preaches such as analogies, story telling but also testing and recall. Dr. Terrence Sejnowski helps us grasps how the brain and learning work. This course gives technics that can be applied to life for learning and problem solving. It will prove useful to anyone: teenager to senior - it will help you be more efficient in tackling challenges.

The optional interviews are very interesting and you meet a bunch of individuals, masters in their fields thanks to their own version of these techniques. It helps connect the class to different areas and ripens your horizons

By Francoise F

Mar 22, 2016

Astonishing and inspiring Barbara! If only all teachers were like you! And some insightful speakers too. I have not stopped talking about this course lately and I am encouraging all and sundry to take it. As a "middle aged" person I feel now like a 3 to 11 years old: eager and stimulated. This course has unearthed some new learning methods and also consolidated my numerous intuitions as regards to learning and my own potential. I am ready now to take on seriously all the challenges that I have been procrastinating on for ages such as Maths (aaargh), learning another language, coding and much more for the rest of my life. Come on I dare challenging you that you will most certainly find out quite a few things you thought you knew not and many more that you had absolutely no clue about. What a great course in its positive approach to your own hidden abilities and multiple facets to learning. Enjoy!

By Adrian

Jan 18, 2017

Professor Oakley and Professor Sejnowski, I would like to take a moment to thank you for your deep and well put together lectures as well as the many interviews with professionals. Although I was not able to push forward with the written assignments , this course gave me the inspiration I needed to challenge myself and has inspired me to look at things in a renewed prospective. I have always dreamed about going into academia, but felt that I was burdened with many learning disabilities. Such as never being able to take tests or reading to slow or not being able to write well, and even being diagnosed late in life with dyslexia. I hope and intend to use what I learned in this course to fight off the demons that have prevented me from finding my passion. I feelthat though the lectures and interviews that I can break the shackles that have limited me from doing what I never thought possible.

By Divya

Apr 30, 2020

Exceptional and amazing course to start learning. Thanks coursera for keeping this course as free and this course is going to motivate and help so many kids, students and even elders to unlock there potential and many disbeliefs regarding intelligence.

The professor explains everything in a really simple manner and it was a surprise to see all course not more than 4 min. None of topic looked complicated to understand, very nice paced with images, videos.

It was pleasure to complete this course.

Course material are really intensive and you could sense the amount of investigation and research has been conducted by the team to come up the course.

Main highlights

Interviews at end of each week from highly intelligent people with tips, solutions which worked for them.

I am a believer now that anyone can learn anything. Thank you so much for making this content. You are truly helping mankind here.

By Fernando L C

Sep 23, 2018

Thanks Dr. Barbara Oakley and Dr. Terrence Sejnowski! Just super helpful. This course is a life changing MOOC and I believe I should be teach in primary or high school or at least in first year of the university.

I was skeptical to take this course because I believed that I was a good enough learner but I found so many useful knowledge to apply on a daily basis. I have already used pomodoro technique and have done a TODO list almost every day for several years but I focus always on "the product". Now I'll start to focus on "the process" and do my TODO list at night rather than in the morning. And also I'll do more "active learning" like retrieve the material and test my self and I'll spend less time in "passive learning" like re-reading and doing mind mapping without any test in between.

Thank you for teaching how to learn. I'm Fernando Conde.

And until we meet again, happy learning! :-D

By Sébastien L

Feb 17, 2019

This course contains invaluable information to help you succeed in life. The instructors back everything they say with lots of good and interesting references, which are available to consult at the end of each module.They presented some strategies for studying that were really useful, the best ones being "test yourself" (practice testing), distributed practice (space repetition) and interleaved practice.Students can also learn quite a bit about procrastination, memory, sleep, mindset, motivation, creativity, overlearning, chunking and other complementary resources that help you learn.I especially enjoyed the optional interviews at the end of a few modules! If you read every single reference mentioned (including books), you may end up spending well over four weeks learning from the material presented in that course. Otherwise, this can be done in a few days at most. Highly recommended!

By Yolenny C

Sep 8, 2015

For as long as I can recall I've had problems to remember things I thought I had learned. But just short ago I realized I was unable to remember things. I wondered why I was so good at anything I undertook at the moment and all the content that I had seemingly storaged in my brain disappeared.

Another thing that caused me a lot of terrible consequences was procrastination. I can gladly say that it doesn't have the same power over me. Now that I know what It is and how it works It's become easier for me to deal with it. I've found the Pomodoro Technique highly effective and insightful.

By taking this course I was able to find the failures that were holding me back in my learning. This course has enabled me to be a better learner. The tricks provided in this course doesn't take a super overwise person to grasp and put them into action.

Thanks for teaching me how to learn more effectively.

By Chew R

Oct 21, 2020

A truly beneficial course to pursue to further enhance learning capabilities. I have been naturally applying some of the learning methods that have taught in this course, but due to different local learning culture in my country, I was forced to think that such learning method is ineffective, but this course have re-established my passion for learning again.

Going through this course helps to solidify a true fundamental learning method that helps in every single subject and truly understand them rather than to just "remembering" the context. Instead, applying the Learning Methods that are taught in this course, helps us to Understand any subject and be able to apply what we have learned, even for a lifetime.

Am really appreciative of this course for how it have changed my life in a way, and I feel it would be a great lost if anyone who would skip this course after coming across it.

By Brian B

Jan 8, 2019

Definite eye opener.

Think back to junior high (Grade 7 or 8) and think how you approached homework. Look at a problem, look at the solution; "pfft, I got this, this stuff's easy" Honours certificate please!

But then you got to high school and thought, "hmm, I kinda got this stuff, I should be good for the test" and thus proceed to cram your way through every exam.

Marks? Varied, from yeah, not bad to absolutely MEH...

University? More of the same. Your job, a little better, but kind of FEEL meh...

It's ok, you just didn't know how to study properly.

This course will teach you how. And more importantly--at least for me--the why. As you'll see CONTEXT MATTERS A WHOLE BUNCH when you're tyring to remember stuff.

And couldn't do this review without a shout out to Barb (the girl in all the videos). Endearing, encouraging, so knowledgeable. Check out her interviews she's really good.

By Ravinder K

Apr 15, 2020

This is a fantastic course and is appropriate for people of all age groups, who are interested in learning. Learning keeps our brains agile and young and as i have learnt in this course, age really doesn't matter.

I am a senior citizen who has just superannuated from a career spanning nearly 39 years. I am lucky that i got introduced to Coursera and further to this course through my sons. I believe, completion of this course will be a game changer for me, during my second innings. Till now i thought that i had a weak memory and i could not retain things. This is a self-image of the past, and now i know that learning and remembering is a game with a set of rules which can be learnt and mastered,

I have started learning a new language and certain other skill sets getting help from the tips and information i gathered doing this course,

Thanks Dr Barbara Oakley and Dr Terry Sejwonsky

By roopini r

Apr 7, 2021

During my learning of this course, i felt fortunate to enroll in such an insightful learning experince Covering all the essential concepts in relation to Learning, Memory and more importantly the neurological perspective of learning and memory explaining the interplay of neurotransmitters. the learning is what gives a way to knowledge. And it starts with our understanding and mastery of materials by various techniques to keep learnt information accessable and maintain it in LTM(memory warehouse) involving Working memory which is memory strore for facts. academic and new learning. The techniques covering how to learn and how to avoid ineffective methods or habits of learning. I thank Professor Baraba Oakley and Prof.Terrence Sejnowski for for their valuable leacture, time and efforts. Also thank organisers of this course, The McMaster university and University of California.

By yanin l

Nov 2, 2015

Wonderful! It was enlightening to watch these incredibly experienced and talented professionals "personally" explain these eyeopening topics in such a simple way in the comfort of my home, or wherever I was. The videos are short enough so I could advance at any time, but are so compelling, once I started, I found it difficult to stop! Plus, they provide visual aids which make the facts so memorable. The optional interviews are very enriching and inspiring, loved them! The fact of having so much additional bibliography is another big plus; you can go deeper in the subject if you desire to. I learned plenty of new techniques to learn better and reinforced some that I used. I will definitely put everything to use! It was a true delight, thank you Barbara, Terrence and everyone! I will hold this inspiring experience within me for a very long time. Best of luck to all of you!

By Ben F

May 29, 2020

This course was extremely helpful to me in so many facets of my life. I wish I had had an opportunity to learn about these learning methods while in high school so that I could have used it in college and even throughout my career. Understanding how neural connections are created and made permanent are important components of learning and retaining all kinds of information we encounter in life. I've even used these tips to improve my golf swing. Repetition makes permanent! In summary, this course provided insight that helped me discover self-destructive mental roadblocks and bad habits that could be addressed once I became aware of these issues. I now understand that I'm not alone with these issues (procrastination, test taking anxiety, the impostor syndrome, etc....). I strongly recommend this course for those on a path of self-discovery and personal improvement.

By OJ

Aug 24, 2015

I thought I would finish this self-paced course in a couple of days, but my 30 second summary of the first week's materials was that learning takes time. So I took the full 4 weeks to complete this course. This course doesn't reveal some new and amazing technique that enabled me to become a walking encyclopedia overnight. In fact I had already heard of all of the techniques. For example, I've tried 30 second summaries before, but I wasn't good at it right away, so I decided the technique didn't work for me. This time I treated the techniques as something I would have to spend time learning how to do, just like any other skill. Because the course became about learning new skills, I really enjoyed it. If I'd just done what I'd always done (take notes and memorize them), then I would have been bored witless, struggled with motivation and procrastination, and dropped out.

By Karen G

Jun 15, 2020

I could not say thank you enough to everyone involved in this course, I am full of gratitude for all the information, technics, method and experiences shown to me ... every video added something new to my brain. I was quite surprise that I was already doing a few of the things mentioned here, I was always told that I was doing it wrong but through this course I learnt that it was perfectly fine, in fact it was the right thing to do so I felt a lot more confident now than ever, I won’t stop here ... this course has encouraged me to carry on with new studies and keep loving to learn, thank you so much Dr Barbara ... the way your talk is so soothing to the brain it felt that it came from you heart .... I am extremely thankful for this opportunity to do this course and I could not be more grateful! Please keep us teaching us as do ... because you do it great.

Karen

By Karthikeyan A R

Oct 28, 2015

I am a continuous learner and love to learn new subjects/areas. I have been doing this during my Bachelors, Masters and while pursuing doctorate (12+ years) in Engineering. Personally, I have got to my own way of learning.

Attending this course, I understood why and how my way of learning works. Also, got insights into how I can improve my learning process. I also used the companion textbook which provided lot of information and real-life examples to support the key ideas in the book. I really enjoyed it.

Thanks a lot Prof. Barbara in bringing this course & book. I understand and appreciate your effort for sharing your own experience in learning subjects that were alien.Thanks for helping most of us understand better our own learning process.

This is my first course in "Coursera" and I am very happy and excited me to chunk more.

Thanks a lot Coursera Team.

By Erikton K

Nov 20, 2015

The best online course I've taken so far. This is not an exaggeration. Throughout the course, I truly felt the importance of the material taught and their applicability in my daily life. I've started using the Pomodoro technique (with the help of an app) when tackling projects at work or want to be productive at home (taking an online course, learning some new skills). I also owe it to this class, and this might be a side effect rather than a direct impact, for bringing my brain to a more relaxed mental state. In other words, the topics about focused/diffuse mode and the discussion of thinking patterns provided a much more clear path not only for approaching tasks, but also escaping from that constant loop that eventually leads to a headache. Without going into more details, this is a wonderful class for anyone, anywhere accessible to take. Happy learning!

By Enya H

Jun 22, 2020

This course was absolutely awesome! Drs. Oakley and Sejnowski introduced the information in such a manner that all learning styles had the opportunity to grasp it. It was informative and interesting; pertinent and thought provoking. The quiz after each module was key in helping to chunk the material presented each module. Each module and quiz included a bit of humor, which made the learning experience enjoyable. I'm definitely going to be aware of how I study and strive for maximum efficiency using the techniques taught here. Additionally, I'm going to buy the suggested books so that I can use them to help my math students to better learn and enjoy the topic. I learned in 4 weeks what I didn't learn during more than 20 years of formal education. Thank you very much Drs. Oakley and Sejnowski!! I rate you both as my favorite professors ever in learning.

By saurabh s

Apr 18, 2020

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 that I (would have liked) to be working on but had trouble finding the motivation to do so. What I learned here about handling procrastination - the pomodoro technique, focusing on process rather than product, etc - has helped me become both more focused but also helps me allow myself to relax, meaning I'm more ready to take on other projects, positive cycle etc. What I learned about short- and long-term memory, chunking, creating interesting metaphors, and so on, has had a direct impact on my ability to do my job well and commit relevant information to memory quickly. If you are considering taking this course at all, do it. It's quite worth it.

By Bolat

Jul 1, 2019

This was the first only course I've completed ever.

And actually with high grades. The lowest grade I've got is 83%.

I highly recommend this course to anyone who wants to improve their learning, or want to try to experience what online course is, as there is a high probability that you will complete it and get a confidence that you can complete something that requires a systematic approach.

One of the reasons that this course is easy to complete and learn, because it's not overloaded by heavy readings or so.

If you decided to take this course, I would recommend to chunk your learning, for example, I did 2 videos each day, so you're not bored or overloaded. Also, it was effective to analyse the script first, make notes and then watch a video of this script.

Good luck!

And huge thanks to Barbara! Looking forward to see you in Kazakhstan this September!

By Paolo V

Jun 15, 2016

Very well prepared material: videos, interviews, further reading, quizzes, tests, with many opportunities to dig deeper into the topic. Professor Barbara Oakley has an easy going, but always professional approach, with a great care for details and a tremendous ability to put them into the big picture and make learning fun and easy! Everything was really well curated and of high quality. Big contributions also come from Dr. Terrence Sejnowski, which talks more about the neurological aspects related to learning. I have learned quite a lot of interesting techniques that I can use to improve the way I study, even if I am at the end of my Ph.D. ! And not only techniques, but also insights on how the brain works and how to relate this to the process of learning. Absolutely suggested to anyone interested in learning deeper and probably faster than before!