Within a few weeks of starting my psychology education, I realized that the way I was attempting to learn and retain information wasn’t very effective, in fact it was terrible. I found myself reading and rereading the same paragraphs over and over trying to force the information to sink in.
With psychology, I found something that I was genuinely interested in, so it was important to comprehend AND retain what I was reading so that I could make sense of all of these new ideas and concepts. Eventually I found a way that suited me: reading short sections then re-writing the information in my own words.
But then, as I decided to embark on a master’s degree and take on a new placement, things got tougher. Not only was I expected to learn at a much faster rate than before, but also stay on top of new research (which tends to be published at an astounding rate). So I decided I needed a new method to keep abreast of new research, while being able to remember it in a meaningful way.
It started with a log…
The way I discovered what eventually worked best for me was born out of a requirement. At the end of each term, my instructors asked that I hand over a detailed, specific, and evidenced reflective log of what new information I had learned, how I had learned it, and where I found this information. We called it a “reflective log.” The log was initially a foreign concept for me –and I found out that writing it from scratch a few hours before the deadline was, without question, a terrible idea.
Nonetheless, this process helped me develop a process for reflection that allowed me to grow as a practitioner. (Unless we can be self-evaluating, and self-critical when needed, we’re likely to get stuck in a rut which may stunt our growth.)
…And ended with a blog
While I agree there is something to be said about handwriting notes rather than typing notes on a laptop, knowing that I am going to publish my notes to the world means that I engage more than I would if I were mindlessly typing as my professor spoke.
With the creation of a blog, there’s a good chance that your notes, like mine, will become highly (and effortlessly) organized. Rather than having random bits of paper or files on your computer, your notes will be sorted by date and, more importantly, they will be searchable by keyword.
If you’re interested, there is a free guide I recommend that explains how to quickly start your own psychology blog. It covers some of the basics:
- Setting up your blog from a technical perspective
- Coming up with the name of your blog
- What do to if you run out of ideas for article topics
A way to set yourself apart
I’ll close with this: Having a blog carries many secondary benefits. The most obvious is preparation for competitive jobs. Here, it’s not a case of wanting to set yourself apart from others, but a case of needing to. As well as the usual work experience and placements, writing your own psychology blog will be a unique selling point for most prospective employers. It not only shows you are passionate about psychology, but it also what you can do with your passion and knowledge.
When the dreaded ‘why should we hire you?’ question comes up, you’ll have a range of answers to give about what your own psychology blog has created for you:
- I actively network with professionals within the field
- I keep up to date with the latest research and understand how it informs our practices
- I am practiced in disseminating high-level information to people who do not have technical knowledge
Those are just a few possible answers that might arise through your experience blogging.
Now, get out there and get started!
Editor’s Note: Marcus Clarke, B.Sc., M.Sc., regularly blogs at psysci.co, a psychology, science, and health blog that examines the latest research in psychology and science, and explains how findings can impact and help individuals’ everyday lives.