TLDR at bottom.
So from my knowledge(correct me if I'm wrong) there is no evidence to suggest that we can improve general intelligence. But what about improving skills/intuition in specialized fields like programming or mathematics?
I went through this course on coursera called Learning how to learn by Barbara Oakley(engineering professor) who suggests the following to quickly learn new subjects:
- Pomodoro technique 25 minutes study 5 min break
- Eliminate Distractions
- Do not neglect memory training. Recalling what you have studied is a great way to learn.
- Practice and consistency.
- Cramming is bad - it takes time to 'build neural chunks' as she says. I wasn't sure if this was based off of actual science or just conceptual.
I do not like method 1 at all from my experience. Often times when I am going through technical textbooks and I have a timer randomly go off on me at 25 minutes in the session, I find myself jumping from my seat and my productivity wanes. However, timers at around 45 minutes(where my brain seems to slow down) does not have this kind of effect.
But in Cal Newports Deep Work book, he suggests:
- Absolutely no distractions. Even delete social media from your life. Isolation can be a very ideal way of achieving deep levels of focus
- Be consistent.
- Do not tap in to willpower
- Use 'rituals' to turn the deep work mode on.
From my experience, point 1 has severely reduced my ADHD symptoms and as a result my productivity has greatly improved. But even then, I still wonder to myself how much validity there are to these two professors approaches? Neither are neuroscientists, cognitive scientists, or psychology professors. I want to know if there is some kind of research, evidence(strong or weak), that there are more effective approaches to learning a specific field at a much faster pace. I have also read summaries of 'Peak' by Anders Erikson who is an apparent authority in this topic but I still haven't found anything eye opening.
Basically, is it possible to learn a subject at a much faster pace through the use of different studying techniques such as mnemonics, spaced repetition, etc.