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Twofers - or maybe threefers

Saturday 29 March 2014

For most of us in the Northern hemisphere, we are wrapping up our courses and it is time to start revision.  Here is a simple idea of how to get started.

The key to starting revision is the simple mantra: reduce, reduce, reduce.  From all the notes, handouts, bookmarks and other materials that we have collected over the past two years in order to learn the basics of psychology, it is now important to get rid of the excess and only focus on what we still need to learn for the exam.

When reducing, you should keep in mind:

  • If it is not on the exam, take it out of your study material.  There are many interesting things that we talk about that are tangents to the course's learning objectives.  They should not be part of your study notes.
  • If you know it, take it out of your study material.  Nothing makes us feel better than to revise something that we already know.  It makes us feel good about ourselves and may give us a false sense of security. It also uses valuable study time without giving us any gain.
  • Less is more. Being able to economize on the number of studies and theories that you need to know will lower stress and make your study time "smarter".

In order to do this last task, my classes do a "game" (it's not really a game) called the "Twofer Game."  This is how it works.

First, the teacher reads out the learning objectives for the Biological Level of Analysis.  (This is just an example. Of course it could be any of the units you have studied - oh, and it doesn't have to be the teacher). After reading out each objective, students have one minute to write as many studies/theories that come to mind which could be used to answer the objective.  Please be sure to consider research that you have done in your options.  The more links you can make between the options and the core, the fewer studies you will have to remember!

After all of the learning objectives have been read, then students are broken into groups of 3 - 4 people. In each group, the goal is to look for "twofers" - that is, a study that could be used to answer more than one objective. It counts as a twofer if it can be used for any two learning objectives within the biological level of analysis - or if it can be used in another level of analysis or option.  For every twofer, the team gets one point.  If you can get a threefer, you get 2 points.  If you get a fourfer (and if you can say that word), you get 3 points.  I think you get the picture.

The important thing to remember in this activity is that it is important not to add a lot of new research that you don't already know.  So, if you know the role of the hormones oxytocin (Baumgarten) and Melatonin (Rosenthal) really well, even if testosterone could be used in several places in the curriculum, you might want to stick to what you already know.

If you do this task for each of the levels of the analysis and the options, with or without the teacher, you should be able to reduce, reduce, reduce - and make the amount of content that you are trying to master for the exams much easier to manage.

Tags: revision


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