Students' ability to retrieve acquired knowledge long-term is critical for every discipline, especially Immunology. The research on learning shows undergraduate students use ineffective learning strategies, misjudging passive vs active ways of learning. Moreover, first generation graduates may be at a disadvantage as they have less opportunity to learn from family member experience. Sixty percent of students who attend medical, dental or graduate school continue to use ineffective strategies, e.g., re-reading. Our goal was to develop a bookclub for our incoming graduate students to discuss effective learning strategies, and assess student’s willingness to switch to more effective learning strategies as well as evaluate the benefit of the bookclub.
We held three consecutive weekly sessions before courses started to discuss the book by Dr. Saundra McGuire entitled, “Teach yourself how to learn”. Incoming graduate students read a few chapters for each session and answered questions about their reading. A discussion was facilitated with senior students, who shared their experience about the program and provided advice. Short podcasts from the UCLA Lasting Learning website were viewed to revisit the important points.
Students recognized that re-reading is not effective and were willing to modify their study habits and continued to use effective learning strategies the following semester. In addition, students agreed that the bookclub was beneficial and provided tools to help them succeed in their coursework, and emphasized the positive impact of senior students’ participation. Our study suggested that a bookclub about effective learning strategies is beneficial and can help incoming graduate students reach their full potential.