Foundations in Microbiology 10th Edition
How to Maximize Your Learning Curve
Most of you are probably taking this course as a prerequisite to nursing, dental hygiene, medicine, pharmacy, optometry, physician assistant, or other health science programs. Because you are preparing for professions that involve interactions with patients, you will be concerned with infection control and precautions, which in turn requires you to think about microbes and how to manage them. This means you must not only be knowledgeable about the characteristics of bacteria, viruses, and other microbes, and their physiology and primary niches in the world, but you must also have a grasp of disease transmission, the infectious process, disinfection procedures, and drug treatments. You will need to understand how the immune system interacts with microorganisms and the effects of immunization. All of these areas bring their own vocabulary and language—much of it new to you—and mastering it will require time, motivation, and preparation. A valid question students often ask is: “How can I learn this information to increase my success in the course as well as retain it for the future?”
Right from the first, you need to be guided by how your instructor has organized your course. Because there is more information than could be covered in one semester or quarter, your instructor will select what he or she wants to emphasize and will construct reading assignments and a study outline that corresponds to lectures and discussion sessions. Many instructors have a detailed syllabus or study guide that directs the class to specific content areas and vocabulary words. Others may have their own website to distribute assignments and even sample exams. Whatever materials are provided, this should be your primary guide in preparing to study. The next consideration involves your own learning style and what works best for you. To be successful, you must commit essential concepts and terminology to memory. A list of how we retain information called the “pyramid of learning” has been proposed by Edgar Dale: We remember about 10% of what we read; 20% of what we hear; 50% of what we see and hear; 70% of what we discuss with others; 80% of what we experience personally; and 95% of what we teach to someone else.
There are clearly many ways to go about assimilating information. Mainly, you will want to focus on more than just reading alone to gather the most important points from a chapter. Try to incorporate writing, drawing simple diagrams, and discussion or study with others. You must attend lecture and laboratory sessions to listen to your instructors or teaching assistants explain the material. You can rewrite the notes you’ve taken during lecture, or outline them to organize the main points. This begins the process of laying down memory. You should go over concepts with others— perhaps a tutor or study group—and even take on the role of the teacher-presenter part of the time. With these kinds of interactions, you will move beyond simple rote memorization of words and will come to understand the ideas and be able to apply them later. A way to assess your understanding and level of learning is to test yourself. You may use the exam questions in the text, on the Connect website, or make up your own. LearnSmart, available within the Connect site, is an excellent way to map your own, individualized learning program. It helps to track what you know, pinpoint what you don’t know, and creates personalized questions based on your progress.
Another big factor in learning is the frequency of studying. It is far more effective to spend an hour or so each day for two weeks than a marathon cramming session on one weekend. If you approach the subject in small bites and remain connected with the terminology and topics, over time it will become yours and you will find that the pieces begin to fit together. Just remember that repetition and experience are the most effective ways to acquire knowledge. In the final analysis, the process of learning comes down to selfmotivation and attitude. There is a big difference between forcing yourself to memorize something to get by and really wanting to know and understand it. Therein is the key to most success and achievement, no matter what your final goals. And though it is true that mastering the subject matter in this textbook requires time and effort, millions of students will affirm how worthwhile such knowledge has been in their professions and everyday life.
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|September 12, 2018|
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