It Takes Practice to Become an Expert

"Whether professionals have a chance to develop intuitive expertise depends essentially on the quality and speed of feedback, as well as on sufficient opportunity to practice." (Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow)
Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

To become an expert at something, you have to practice that something.

Doctors and lawyers often use the term “practice” to describe their daily work.

Educators are the same. We practice every day. And we get a little better every day.

So do our students. Provided we allow them to practice.

This idea is at the heart of student-centered instruction. We serve to guide them along their path; they choose the path.

And they choose how long they stay on that path. The more passion they have, the longer and harder they will work.

The more we walk all over their practice time with test prep and meaningless teacher talk designed to keep us in control, the less engaged our students will be.

Less engagement means they practice other things. And so begins the cycle.

Let them practice; let them learn.



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How to Read and Take Notes Like a PhD Student

study hall
Photo by Lina Kivaka on Pexels.com

As a graduate student or scholar, it is essential to master the skill of reading and taking notes effectively. However, this skill is not something that can be learned overnight, and it requires time and practice. Reading is not just about glancing over the words but processing their meaning, understanding the structure of arguments, and developing a strategy for retention and understanding. In this blog post, we will discuss how to read and take notes like a Ph.D. student.

Read for Class

When starting a new term, it is essential to read through the syllabi and determine which readings are most pertinent to your long-term goals in research. Professors do not expect students to read everything, so it is essential to read with a strategy in mind rather than wasting time on subjects that may not be useful in the future.

At the beginning of each week, go through the index of your books and readings to determine which chapters or sections you should pay attention to the most. For example, if you are a student interested in history, you may want to focus on chapters related to slavery and the law. Set up your class notes using an organization app like Notion to categorize your notes into major themes, scholarship, and questions.

Read for Retention

Reading for retention is all about long-term memory. It is essential to read thoroughly and take your time. When taking notes, consider which chapters or sections pique your interest and take notes based on the categories we discussed earlier. For long-term retention and research, take your time with the introduction, take notes in the margin, and check the footnotes and citations.

When taking notes for retention, consider the following categories: main argument, supporting arguments, subjects and sites, sources, methods, scholarly debate, terms and themes, and questions and notes. Note-taking software like Notion is useful for students to organize their notes.

Read for Research

Reading for research is all about finding information that is most pertinent to your project in a timely manner. Focus on the key takeaways of your project and use specific tactics when going into the text to find the information you need. Do not overlook the index of a book or the find feature on a PDF, as it can help you find information quickly and efficiently.

When reading for research, establish a set of key terms, look them up in the index, and see which pages and sections directly reference your subject matter. Reading for research requires a strategic approach to finding the information you need.

Reading and taking notes like a Ph.D. student requires a purposeful and strategic approach. Reading with a strategy in mind and taking notes based on the categories we’ve outlined can help you retain information in the long term. Use note-taking software like Notion to organize your notes and establish a long list of applicable terms to find what you need efficiently. By following these tips, you can read and take notes like a Ph.D. student, regardless of your reading speed or research stage.



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