concentration techniques 3
If you are a person who needs a quiet spot for efficient study, do your utmost to find such a spot. If the library is the right place for you, then always go there. Nothing is more wasteful than going over the same paragraph again and again because there is too much noise for you to absorb what you are reading. Noise in your living quarters is one of the most serious single obstacles to effective study.
Many students rationalize that it takes too much time to walk to the library, but two or three hours of efficient study in quiet surroundings does more good than ten hours in near bedlam. Many students find the walk to the library refreshing, and report that they can even concentrate on their studies and get something done as they walk. Unless you make a firm decision about finding the quiet spot, you might become psychologically trapped, like the student who reported, I am failing several of my courses because I just cannot study in the noisy dormitory; yet, though I know I should, I don’t feel like going to the library. I kid myself by saying, “Maybe it’ll be different tonight,” but it never is.
One sure way to avoid being trapped in a noisy dormitory: study in the library beginning with the first day of classes.
This external distraction will be dealt with at some length because so many students use the radio or stereo as background music for studying. The big question is: Does background music help the learning process or interfere with it? In this section, some evidence and an opinion are presented.
Background music in industry. Soft, wordless, non-strident background music in industry provides a pleasant atmosphere that is often effective in maintaining productivity. The music helps overcome drabness, boredom, and monotony of jobs in assembly lines, supermarkets, and similar places. We must bear in mind that these tasks are routine and manipulative; they do not involve higher conceptualizing, learning tasks.
Background music in education. In a review of thirteen experiments on the effect of music on learning ability, the following results were gleaned.
1. In seven experiments, groups without music in the background achieved higher scores on a quiz than groups with music.
2. In five experiments involving some groups with and some groups without music in the background, tests showed that there were no significant differences in achievement.
3. In one experiment in which a bell was struck intermittently, a group of college students taking a thirty-minute intelligence test gained slightly. The more intelligent students in the group, however, made more mistakes with the bell striking.
The box score for music in the background is: one win, not really by music, but by the bell; five ties, and seven losses. A very poor record!
found that students who prefer to study with soft, background music get less out of their reading than students who read without background music.
Click off the radio or stereo. In this business of studying, music is noise. Some students report that all through high school they studied successfully with music in the background. Success in passing high school courses is no proof that background music is, therefore, a non-interfering factor. These students should be asked: How much better could you have studied without music? How much more could you have learned during the same period? By exerting extra energy when the music is playing, you may be able to keep your mind on your studies 75 percent of the time. Then the music captures only the other 25 percent of your attention, but your mind and body is being bombarded by the relentless sound waves 100 percent of the time. Such bombardment is physically tiring. Why voluntarily introduce interference when you are studying? It is hard enough to concentrate as it is.