3rd Edition

The New Science of Learning How to Learn in Harmony With Your Brain

By Todd D. Zakrajsek Copyright 2022
    282 Pages
    by Routledge

    282 Pages
    by Routledge

    While preserving the elements that have made the previous two editions so successful—such as chapters on sleep, exercise, memory and mindset—this third edition introduces students to wholly new aspects of brain function and how they impact learning; and furthermore, addresses the challenges of learning online.

    By introducing new concepts, strategies, and applications related to learning and memory that are based on current findings in cognitive, social, and motivational psychology, this text offers a richer and more complete picture of how brain science illuminates how we learn. Students assigned this book will be equipped to design effective learning plans, employ new strategies, recognize learning traps, discover ways to work effectively in groups, improve recall, and realize better academic performance through test-taking and paper-writing strategies.

    This new edition also addresses the concerns of all students—particularly those unfamiliar with the college setting and its expectations and assumptions—and offers strategies for success. In keeping with the preceding editions, this book introduces students to concepts, techniques, strategies, tips, and ideas to help them be academically stronger students, advance faster in their studies, and demonstrate what they have learned more effectively—in short, how anyone can learn to be a better learner by learning how to learn in harmony with their brain.

    The book remains compact and student-friendly, offers examples of practice, and includes discussion questions at the end of each chapter.




    1. Your Host

    2. Where This Book Came From

    3. The Structure of this Third Edition

    A Note to Students

    A Note To Faculty


    Chapter 1 - Learning from Multiple Perspectives

    A. Perspective Taking

    B. Ubiquitous Struggles

    1. First-Generation College Students

    2. Recognizing Individuality

    3. Disarming Microaggressions

    4. Stereotype Threat

    5. Implicit Bias

    6. Summary of Biases

    C. From Uneasy to Understanding

    D. Equity, Equality, and Accommodations

    E. Engaged Learning

    Chapter 2 - Discovering Yourself as a Learner

    A. Self-Regulation

    1. Establish a Habit of Success

    2. Managing Emotions

    B. Self-Efficacy

    1. Performance Outcomes

    2. Vicarious Experiences

    3. Verbal Persuasion

    4. Physiological Feedback

    C. Imposter Syndrome

    D. Learned Optimism

    Chapter 3 - Developing Your Learning Strategy

    A. Set Goals

    1. SMART Goals

    a. Specific

    b. Measurable

    c. Achievable

    d. Relevant

    e. Timely

    2. Break Large Goals into Smaller Goals

    3. Stretch Goals

    B. Manage Multiple Tasks

    1. Build Your Schedule

    2. Manage Your Schedule

    3. To-Do Lists

    4. Organization

    C. Effective Communication Patterns

    1. Be an Active Listener

    2. How to Address Faculty

    3. Make Use of Office Hours

    4. Emails to Faculty

    5. Following Up

    6. Making Requests

    D. Keep the Big Picture in Mind


    Chapter 4 – Facilitating Your Learning

    A. Theories and Models of Learning

    1. Classical Conditioning

    2. Operant Conditioning

    3. Social Learning Theory

    B. Cognitive Load

    1. Intrinsic Load

    2. Extraneous Load

    3. Germane Load

    a. Automaticity

    b. Schema Activation

    C. Deep Learning

    1. Attention

    2. Value

    3. Understanding

    4. Anticipate Success

    D. Foster a Better Memory

    1. Memory Processes

    a. Encoding

    b. Consolidation

    c. Retrieval

    E. Memory Enhancements

    1. Elaboration

    2. Repetition

    3. Interleaving

    4. Spaced Recall

    Chapter 5 - Exploring Social Influences

    A. Mindset

    1. The Origins of Fixed Mindedness

    2. Spotting a Fixed Mindset

    3. Mindsets are Context Specific

    4. Views the World Based on Mindset

    5. Shift to Growth Mindset

    B. Metacognition

    1. Understanding Metacognition

    2. Metacognitive Regulation

    C. Attribution

    1. Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic

    2. A Bit of Order

    3. Fundamental Attribution Error

    D. Egocentric bias

    Chapter 6 - Finding and Using Patterns

    A. Patterns Enhance Learning

    1. Chunking

    2. Schemas and Cognitive Load

    B. Pervasive Patterns

    1. Similarity

    2. Proximity

    3. Continuity

    4. Closure

    5. Figure-Ground

    C. Patterns in Academic Life

    1. Content

    2. Reading

    a. Pattern for Reading a Textbook

    b. Patterns for Reading a Journal Article

    c. Pattern for Reading a Novel


    Chapter 7 - Thriving in Higher Ed

    A. Individual and Group Study

    B. Effective Study Time

    C. Prepare for Class

    D. Memorize Bloom’s Taxonomy

    E. Staying Productive in a Less than Ideal Lecture

    F. Learn Every Day/Avoid Procrastination

    G. Solicit and Incorporate Feedback

    H. Cheating and Plagiarism

    1. Cheating

    2. Plagiarism

    I. Office of Student Success/Student Disability Services

    J. Know your Campus Resources

    Chapter 8 - Demonstrating Your Learning

    A. Participation

    B. Homework

    C. Extra Credit

    1. Learning Value

    2. Additional Considerations

    D. Writing Papers

    1. Your Instructor and the Syllabus

    2. The Writing Center

    3. Reference Librarians

    4. Writing Tips in this Book

    E. Giving Presentations

    F. Test Taking Strategies

    1. Text Anxiety Versus Test Nervousness

    2. Study Strategies

    Chapter 9 - Avoiding Learning Pitfalls

    A. Rereading and Hi-lighting

    B. Cramming for Exams

    C. Following Your Learning Styles

    D. Task Shifting

    E. Listening to Negativity

    F. Hanging in There Too Long


    Chapter 10 - Sleeping to Enhance Learning

    A. What Researchers Say About Sleep

    1. Circadian Rhythms

    2. Stages of Sleep

    3. Sleep Patterns: Larks and Night Owls

    B. Sleep, Learning, and Memory

    1. Importance of Sleep

    2. Remembering What is Important

    3. Power of Naps and Restful Breaks

    4. Cramming Versus Resting

    C. Managing Your Sleep

    1. Factors that Disrupt Sleep

    a. Alcohol Consumption

    b. Caffeine

    c. Diet

    d. Technology

    2. Factors that Promote Sleep

    a. Bedroom Environment

    b. Bedtime Routine

    c. Physical Activity and Being Outside

    d. Insomnia

    3. Long-Term Brain Health and Sleep

    Chapter 11 - Exercising to Enhance Learning

    A. Health Benefits of Physical Activity

    B. Basic Brain Structures and Processes

    1. Prefrontal Cortex

    2. Hippocampus

    3. Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor

    4. Neurons, Synapses, and Neurotransmitters

    C. Effects of Long-Term Exercise on Learning

    D. Effects of Short-Term Exercise on Learning

    E. Timing of Exercise and Learning

    F. Therapeutic Exercises

    1. Walking

    2. Low-Impact, Anaerobic Therapeutic Exercise

    Chapter 12 - Being an Effective Group Leader/Member

    A. Benefit of Group Work

    1. Develop Soft Skills

    2. Incorporate Diverse Perspectives

    3. Complete Large or Complex Projects

    B. Inventory Your Strengths and Challenges

    C. Get to Know Group Members

    1. Introductions and Icebreakers

    2. Commitment to the Project

    3. Competing Demands

    D. Clarify Intended Goals

    E. Facilitate Group Processes

    1. How the Group Will Be Led

    2. How Decisions Will Be Made

    3. Brainstorm Ideas

    4. Proceed with Work

    5. Find Times to Meet

    6. Group Updates and Check-Ins

    F. Set Ground Rules

    1. What If Someone Doesn’t Do Their Work?

    2. What If Someone Misses a Meeting?

    3. Ensuring All Voices Are Heard

    4. Address Group Conflicts

    G. Effective Meetings

    1. Agenda

    2. Start and End on Time

    3. Assign Group Roles

    a. Note-Taker

    b. Monitor

    c. Moderator

    d. Counter-Pointer

    e. Supporter

    4. Brief Group Member Well-Check

    5. End Meeting with Next Steps

    6. Cancel the Meeting if Possible

    H. Common Challenges

    1. Hogs and Logs

    2. Losing the Way

    3. Rushing to Wrap

    4. Drama

    Appendix A – Online Learning

    A. Synchronous Online Courses

    B. Asynchronous Online Courses

    C. Tips for Setting and Sticking to Your Schedule

    A message from Dr. Z


    Todd D. Zakrajsek is Associate Director of the Faculty Development Fellowship in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, U.S.A., and President of the International Teaching Learning Cooperative. 

    "I have used prior editions of The New Science of Learning in my courses for several years with much success! The third edition offers funny and engaging stories from Todd’s college experiences that will draw students into the content. Every chapter is loaded with practical and detailed advice to students on applying the science of learning for college success. The mysteries of learning and memory are unlocked for students in a highly accessible and fun book!"

    Kathy Nabours, Associate Professor of Mathematics, Riverside City College

    "A must-read for our entering students…a distillation of the longstanding science on learning and the brain into easy-to-follow explanations and compelling real-life examples. This book encapsulates proven components of successful and enduring learning, offering numerous practical strategies that students can begin to use immediately. Kudos to the author for situating this latest edition in our current social landscape. I am constantly searching for tools to strengthen our students’ learning retention. This is a grand slam!"

    Angela P. Hegamin, Assistant Dean of Academic Support, College of Optometry, Western University of Health Sciences

    "An instant classic when first published in 2013, this updated third edition of The New Science of Learning should be required reading for every college student. It is an invaluable resource for educators searching for concrete, evidence-based ways to help students build academic skills, agency, and self-efficacy. It is a truly empowering book for students and instructors alike."

    Jessamyn Neuhaus, Director, SUNY Plattsburgh Center for Teaching Excellence, author of Geeky Pedagogy: A Guide for Intellectuals, Introverts, and Nerds Who Want to be Effective Teachers

    "This book masterfully weaves together leading brain research and practical examples to show students ‘how to learn’. It addresses common pitfalls that students encounter in their learning journey, and provides a clear roadmap of research-based strategies that can enhance comprehension, long-term retention, and the overall learning experience (such as spaced practice, metacognitive strategies, and yes, sleep). This book is a must-read for students who want the tools to succeed in college and beyond!"

    Tolulope (Tolu) Noah, Instructional Learning Spaces Coordinator, California State University, Long Beach

    "Dr. Zakrajsek’s systematic, approachable, and humorous discussion of ‘the Research’ makes this book both accessible and meaningful for any learner in higher education – and faculty too! He provides condensed, clear theory as well as pathways of practice for improving our learning through thought and deed. Any reader will come away with specific applications which will in turn provide profound improvements to their learning. This is a must-read for every student, regardless of previous academic success!"

    Ian Wolf, Instructor of English, Vance-Granville Community College