Gone are the days where you see row upon row of students with their heads buried in their arms, hidden away in the corner cubicles of the university library. Well, perhaps that’s an exaggeration, but it’s true that students are increasingly taking less and less of a brute-force approach that emphasizes the attitude of “I’m responsible for my own learning decisions,” in favor of convenient, specialized online academic platforms such as Studypool.
The State of Traditional Learning
When we think “traditional education,” we usually think of a classroom with a large number of students, all neatly seated and facing a professor. The professor lectures for an hour or two, the students take notes, ask questions, take tests, and the whole nine yards. However, while this method is certainly disciplined and consistent, is this really the most effective way of learning?
Recently, a number of psychological and sociological studies have pointed to the idea that learning through rote memorization and using “brute-force” approaches in an attempt to retain and internalize information yields very insubstantial results. In fact, one article in The Atlantic even surveys and summarizes results related to rote learning, or memorization, concluding that memorization actually interferes with one’s ability to comprehend information.
Types of Learning
However, learning is complex in the sense that it refers to the process through which one acquires knowledge. Therefore, it depends on a large number of variables such as the learning style and preferences of the student, the instruction method, the quality of the materials, and so forth. It’s impossible to dismiss memorization entirely in this context as well, as you must remember or be able to hold a concept in your mind if you want to have a chance at learning concepts which require a solid foundation of knowledge.
At a basic level, we might conceptualize learning as fitting into three categories: no learning, rote learning, and meaningful learning. No learning would describe someone who skims a textbook or section and convinces themselves they know the material, but fails to even recall the most important elements or main ideas in the chapter they’ve reviewed.
Rote memorization is similar to no learning in the sense that the learner engages with the material. However, the distinction is that this learner is able to regurgitate important, key terms pertinent to the lesson. For instance, if you were to ask someone learning new vocabulary through rote memorization what a specific word meant, they would be able to tell you with relative ease.
So where do online EdTech platforms factor into all of this?
EdTech Promotes Meaningful Extracurricular Learning for Students
According to an article by Richard E. Meyer of Ohio State University, meaningful learning is distinct from no learning and rote learning in the following way: “Meaningful learning occurs when students build the knowledge and cognitive processes needed for successful problem solving.” This implies a practical, working understanding the material.
Meaningful learning, put in the simplest way, allows students to generalize the principles behind one problem to similar, but novel problems in order to come up with a solution specific to that problem. Many EdTech platforms achieve this by documenting the step-by-step methods through how to arrive at the answer for some complicated discipline, such as electrodynamics.
Studypool emphasizes the significance of meaningful learning by taking an approach where tutors are expected to help students work through a specific case, but also to test that student’s ability to solve questions of the same type with slight variations the logic required to obtain the solution.
One of the key areas where this approach that emphasizes meaningful learning engenders the optimal learning outcomes for students is with essays. The organization required for essay writing and to ensure the structural coherence of an argument counts as something that many students struggle and fail to meaningfully learn. It is in these categories that Studypool, along with other EdTech companies, have inhabited a unique niche in academics and tutoring.