Reboot your learning system

CLASSROOM TO BOARDROOM

Reboot your learning system

 Students say it is not lack of interest but lack of time that prevents them from learning any subject in totality.

Six subjects, three months, and three internals; I read, I write, I forget. This seems to be the formula followed by most students in professional courses like engineering. But this culture defeats the purpose and intent of the course. It results in a race, where students concentrate on scoring marks rather than gaining knowledge. So, how can you make your engineering education more meaningful and effective?

Engineering is a professional course, which means that after the completion of the course, when students enter the industry, they are expected to be professionals who have a broad understanding of their specialisation. The industry expects confident professionals who can find their way out of a problem independently. To achieve such professionalism, a student needs to master the basics of the subjects offered in the course.

More importantly, one should never be content with the knowledge one has gained as a student, but must keep learning and updating oneself.

Life becomes easier if you have a liking for the subjects you have chosen to study. Then, learning will excite you and studying a subject will not be a chore, or worse, a burden.
Most universities — when they design a course — ensure that the subjects are interconnected. It is expected that when you read a subject you understand the purpose of the subject, learn its applications and establish a link with the other subjects that you are studying.

Each subject is a link in the knowledge chain; it is the student’s responsibility to use these links to form a chain. The subject expertise of a student is directly proportional to the strength of this chain; the strength of the chain is dependent on the strength of its links.

The current situation of most students is that they tend to lose sight of the big picture and fail to see the need to forge strong links in their knowledge chain. This results in cramming concepts and reproducing them in the examination. This kind of learning does not contribute to an indepth understanding of the subject.

Trying to look at the big picture reinforces interest in the subject. Many students complain that it is not lack of interest but lack of time that prevents them from learning any subject in totality. Here are a few ways to work around this problem:

*It is very good practice to first find out a little about the subjects you are going to study. Use your vacation to familiarise yourself with subjects that you will be studying. Use the syllabus copy provided by the university, read through the subject contents and you will be surprised how invaluable this can prove when classes actually begin.

*Every subject is important in its own way. Try to understand the background of the subject. Understand its applications — this will help in a better understanding of  concepts.

*Learn each topic with an open mind. Preconceived notions inhibit the learning process. Accept each subject as a new learning and be enthusiastic like you would be to master a new level in a video game. Ask yourself why you show know the subject before you begin studying.

*If there are any prerequisites for the subject, try and brush up on those concepts. Try to weave a link with the concepts that you have learnt and the new subject. In the process you would have woven a basket of information by the end of the course.

*Students tend to lack confidence in a subject because they use short-cut methods of studying. They learn the bare minimum required to answer a few questions in the examination. Spend more time for the first time instead of revisiting the topic every time. Believe in yourself. Seek guidance, use more references if required and keep updating your knowledge.

*Most students have a misconception about industry expectations. As a fresher, you are only expected to know the subjects that you have studied. Be prepared to answer fundamental questions during your interviews.

Any student would want to know if this will help in scoring better marks. Probably not! But it will help you get a broader view of the subjects that you are studying. Remember, marks will only help you get an entry into a company; your growth and your future are dependent on the strength of your basic concepts and your passion to excel in your chosen field.

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