Udayavni Special

EXAM SPECIAL: Interleaving v/s. Over-learning


Team Udayavani, Mar 28, 2018, 7:55 PM IST

Around 16 years back, as a Management student, I had attended a workshop on ‘Brain Building’, one of the resource persons at the workshop in his talk, spoke about the need of leading a healthy life by corporate executives. He emphasized the concept of ‘Rest for the body, while change for the brain’ for the well being of the modern professionals. The summary of his concept was, as modern professionals exert a lot of pressure on their intellectual ability leading to an exhausted brain, they need to engage in a variety of activities to refresh their brain rather than taking rest. Rest is needed for the body when it gets exhausted due to physical strain or fatigue. Though the concept did not appeal to me much at that point of time, recently I was reminded of this concept, while reading Dr Barbara Oakley’s best seller ‘A mind for numbers’. In this book, she introduces the concept of ‘Interleaving’.

The concept of interleaving has a very close resemblance to the concept of rest for the body, while change for the brain. While one helps corporate professionals, another one helps students.

Today let me expound the concept of Interleaving for the benefit of all the students looking forward to a great performance in the coming exams.

It is a normal tendency for most of us to continue studying or practising a problem-solving approach especially in the case of math and science, even after reaching a reasonable level of proficiency in a single session.  This habit is called as over-learning; research has shown that over-learning can be a waste of precious learning time. The only way of mastering a new subject, a new concept or a new problem-solving approach is by adopting the technique of Interleaving. Interleaving technique emphasizes the need for practising a variety of problems requiring different solving techniques i.e. once you have understood a basic concept along with few examples and practice during your study session, jump to another concept to understand its fundamentals with few examples and practice. This approach is much more effective than the over-learning technique.

This technique though looks to be tough to master initially, with regular practice it can be of great help to students to learn fast and effortlessly.

Students, always remember that body requires rest, while brain needs a change; It took me 16 long years to understand this. You can appreciate its importance hereafter, by solving a variety of problems in one session instead of limiting yourself to similar problems.

– Prakash Prabhu
[ Mr.Prakash Prabhu works for The Manipal Group as a Senior HR Manager with over 15 years of corporate experience. He has been the lead writer and contributor to CHIRP magazine.(An intra-Manipal group monthly employee magazine) An avid reader who devours one book after another, Mr.Prabhu is also a certified handwriting analyst.]
 

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