Factors that restrict your learning

As you get older, learning a new skill turns out to be one of the most difficult things to accomplish. Research shows that learning a new skill is hard work – it takes up more brain space. However, after we have learned a skill well, the brain no longer needs to work as hard to carry it out. This is why, as we get older, we tend to rely more on the easier brain functions of performing skills you already know. We tend to let habit dictate not only our actions, but also our thought patterns.

Completing a thesis is a task that tests your mental agility. You cannot only rely on skills that have been preset into your brains. Rather, you will need to use more regularly the higher brain function of learning.

There are many factors that get in the way of learning. Even the highest achievers are sometimes not “learning,” but revisiting old skills that they are already proficient in. Watch out for these signs that you are, in fact, not making full use of your mental capabilities.

1. You tend to follow methods.

Method is not the same as skill. Method is a set of rules, or steps. It is not very flexible, and while in your previous education it may have served you well, you will need to show more flexibility and adaptability while working on your thesis.

2. You work too hard.

Neither is hard work a sufficient substitute for skill. Although for many aspects of your research and writing you will have to employ pure elbow grease, it will not help you learn a new concept. Be wary of falling into the mindset where when you get stuck, you think, “I have to work harder!” Instead, seek help from your supervisors, and stop working for some time to really evaluate what you need to improve on.

3. You are very result-oriented.

Up until this point in your educational career, you may have found that students who consistently produce results are the most favored. Your thesis is different, however. If you are constantly under pressure to show off what you have done – in other words, showcasing your results – then it will be difficult to learn new skills. Remember, fresh learning requires more time and effort for your brain. If you are under pressure, you are more apt to forego this cognitive step in favor of producing faster results.


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