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UC San Diego: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects

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Learning how to learn

Whether you are an outstanding or a struggling student, "Learning How to Learn" will give you powerful mental tools that will help you learn more effectively in tough-to-master subjects. You will discover practical, immediately useful insights that will help you to more deeply master your studies.

About the course
Learning How to Learn is meant to give you practical insight on how to learn more deeply and with less frustration. The lessons in this course can help you in learning many different subjects and skills. Whether you love language or math, music or physics, psychology or history, you'll have a lot of fun, and learn a lot about how to learn virtually any subject!

Course Syllabus
This course gives you easy access to the invaluable learning techniques used by experts in art, music, literature, math, science, sports, and many other disciplines. The students will learn about the how the brain uses two very different learning modes and how it encapsulates ("chunks") information. Other topics which will be covered include illusions of learning, memory techniques, dealing with procrastination, and best practices shown by research to be most effective in helping you master tough subjects.

This is a 4-week course. The students may spend an hour or two watching the videos each week, or they may choose to dive deeper and complete a Statement or Verified Certificate or even a "with Distinction" honor.

  • Week 1 - Introduction: Focused versus Diffuse Thinking (begins Aug 1)
  • Week 2 - Chunking (begins Aug 8)
  • Week 3 - Procrastination and Memory (begins Aug 15)
  • Week 4 - Renaissance Learning and Unlocking Your Potential (begins Aug 22)

No background is necessary for this course, which is suitable for everyone from college and high school students to advanced professors in the social science, humanities, and STEM disciplines who wish to help their students learn better.

Course Format

  • The class will consist of several videos per week, which are generally between 5 minutes in length for lecture videos, and 15 to 20 minutes in length for interviews.
  • These contain 1-2 integrated quiz questions per video.
  • There will also be two peer-evaluated challenges, three quizzes and a final exam.
  • Discussion forums and a "Talkabout" session are also important and very fun parts of the course.


  • Terrence Sejnowski - University of California, San Diego
  • Barbara Oakley - University of California, San Diego

Course Sessions
August 1, 2014 - August 31, 2014

For more information, click here.

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