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We all have different learning styles and the use of our senses is primary in our processing and storing things into memory. Most people have one or two senses that are dominant in their leaning process ("I learn best when I do"). The learning process can be broken down into four modalities: visual, auditory, tactile and kinesthetic.

One of the keys to excelling in graduate school is to identify and capitalize on your learning style. For me, I always did better when I went to the lecture. That and the combination of writing notes (tactile), and seeing the professor write or give illustrations (visual), was always much more valuable then me reading on my own. This makes sense because researchers say that the more of our senses that we engage, the more likely we are to convert our experiences into memory.

If I read the chapter before the lecture and then read my notes after the lecture, I pretty much cemented the material into my brain and had to do little review before the exam.

So, sometimes it is fine to skip the lecture and study at home (especially if you can video conference in!), but to maximize learning, it is usually best to go to the lecture.

PracticeJoanna Simmon