It’s easy to get discouraged when we’re trying to learn a difficult new subject. But according to the creator of one of the world’s most successful online courses, almost anyone can learn anything—with the right technique.
Barbara Oakley, an engineering professor at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, is the creator of “Learning How to Learn,” a massive open online course (or MOOC) that’s already been taken by approximately 2.3 million students across 200 countries. The course draws on neuroscience research to offer practical advice for anyone struggling with a tough subject or a procrastination habit. Now she’s co-authored a new book, Learning How to Learn: How to Succeed in School Without Spending All Your Time Studying, that offers advice for children and young adults just in time for back-to-school season.
Quartz spoke with Oakley about some of her best tips for learning, whatever your age—from why you shouldn’t study in the same place every day to how the “hard start technique” can improve your performance on tests.