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Five on Friday: Stimulated learning

Five on Friday: Stimulated learning

Welcome to Five on Friday, a round-up of views on a theme. We take you through a few ways students like to stimulate themselves to make study fun, or simply tolerable. Some methods are tasty while others a little dangerous. Here are five perspectives on study and stimulants.

Last week I wrote about being bored of studies and suggested five other things you could do instead of studying to assist your learning ability. Sadly they were all quite boring, so this week I thought I’d take a look at some of the things people did to stimulate themselves in the hope that it would be a bit more exciting. I wasn’t wrong to hope.

1. Eat chocolate, win Nobel Prize
A fun article on The Conversation suggests that eating chocolate may increase the odds of winning a Nobel Prize. Turns out that chocolate, especially dark chocolate, contains flavonoids, which is a kind of antioxidant linked to cognitive ability, including memory and mood. Other things with flavonoids you can consume include red wine (though the effects of the alcohol may negate the flavonoid benefits), tea and citrus fruits. I’ll leave snack selection in your hands.

2. Drugged up and ready to study
In the US, where the abuse of prescription drugs is far higher than the documented abuse of illegal substances, ‘study drugs’ are getting a bad rap for not being very good for studying at all. In recent years, university students’ intake of ‘study drugs’ such as Ritalin and Adderall (usually prescribed to patients with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD) have gotten to the level where politicians are calling for a crackdown and, in the UK where the practice is also prevalent, an academic has suggested students undergo a drug test for abuse of prescription medication.

The flip side of all this? Turns out the drugs may not be as good for study as first thought. Plus, there are a number of side effects including insomnia, heart palpitations and increased blood pressure. Just the thing you need when you’re anxious about an exam and have insomnia, heart palpitations and increased blood pressure…

3. Gaming the system
Some time ago I wrote about gamification, or how playing helps us learn, as a good way to engage students with study material or to communicate certain concepts. I found a wonderful infographic that provides a good overview of the history of gamification in teaching. Who knew that Animal Crossing was an expression of late 20th century capitalism?

4. The system gaming you
There’s a more sinister side to gamification techniques, however, those used to keep you playing but at the same time sucking the life out of you. You know how it goes: you start an activity and an hour later you have achieved nothing but the waste of an hour. It’s called The Machine Zone and it is a technique of designing an activity that triggers an addictive response without adequate payback for the time that you spend on it. It’s a technique well known to poker machine designers… and now Facebook interface designers. Why can’t they use this to aid study, not procrastination?

5. What stimulates you?
I’m just going to leave this here…

stimulated learning

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