Table 1. MPH, final grades and GPA, fall semester, 2016
Up until now, I have been using a fairly standard approach and method. Key words: Attendance, participation, undivided attention, preview, review, flashcards, visualization, quadruple check, and process of elimination. Table 1. displays the outcome of my standard approach and method in combination with 1% of luck. You can probably guess what I mean by each of the keywords mentioned previously. I don’t think I really have to go over each of them because I am not really here to teach anybody how to learn, study, and perform. In fact, I don’t think I’m qualified to do so. I am, however, interested in conducting new experiments on myself to see how I improve over time.
Different subjects require different approaches and methods. Medicine equates to vast content. From what I know thus far, the subject not only requires memorization but also application on a sophisticated level. Simple memorization and regurgitation are methods of the past. Although they are still required, advanced methods are needed to digest the colossal amount of information and apply them in novel and/or modified situations.
Last week, I read Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything by Joshua Foer. I’ve since become interested in different memorization methods as I see their potential in aiding my studies. I am currently most interested in the major system and the method of loci.
The major system is a mnemonic technique used to aid in memorizing numbers. The system works by converting numbers into consonant sounds, then into words by adding vowels. The system works on the principle that images can be remembered more easily than numbers. (Source: Wikipedia)
The method of loci (loci being Latin for “places”) is a method of memory enhancement which uses visualizations with the use of spatial memory, familiar information about one’s environment, to quickly and efficiently recall information. (Source: Wikipedia)
The major system should come in handy when memorizing useful quantitative values related to medicine. I wish I had known this technique during my first semester of MPH for obvious reasons. Since reading the book, I have been developing my own memory places for the method of loci. They mainly include my residences. I am also thinking about adding buildings in my medical school campus to expand my collection. Practicing is going to be the key with these new techniques because I have to be comfortable with using them. Otherwise, they will do more harm than good.
So I suppose I already have two experiments for 2017. I am of course using the word experiment lightly here. The first experiment is to observe the effect of utilizing the major system in number memorization. The second is to observe the effect of method of loci on memorization in general.
I actually have two other experiments in mind right now: Anki and Baroque. They will be discussed next time. Until then, back to reading Adler’s Understanding Human Nature.