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I have a Introduction to Psychology class. I find it difficult to understand what the teacher says even when I ask him. What are things I should do outside of class to improve my understanding?

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G. Mark’s Answer

This will at first sound a bit flippant, but I find it often is usable even for seasoned professionals trying to understand terminology and concepts in a new field. Introduction to Psychology will generally focus on basic psychological concepts and then experiment design and interpretation of data. The barrier to much understanding is not the concepts themselves, but often the jargon used to present them. I recommend getting copies of Psychology for Dummies and Research Methods in Psychology for Dummies or any other similar books. Once you see the down-to-earth descriptions of all these weird-sounding ideas in plain language, your brain will see what the teacher is getting at. Remember that sometimes professionals in a field get so used to talking in their strange "expert-speak", that they lose the ability to state concepts simply and clearly. Sometimes they use "shortcut" terms that befuddle most of us. Sometimes, of course, they get very good at parroting the text from books they've read but don't understand the concepts thoroughly enough to be able to provide analogies. Either way, getting past the jargon in any field has always been a tremendous help to me. Then the jargon was no longer mysterious, and actually became useful.

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Michelle’s Answer

Hi - The great thing about college is the ability to learn about so many subject as well as develop life skills that can be used anywhere.  In my professional (and personal) life, I have encountered similar situations - still to this day.  A concept explained in Franklin-Covey courses is a 'paradigm' - people's backgrounds and experiences affect the way they perceive things and communicate.  Sometimes people have very different paradigms and it's challenging to develop a common understanding.  So, what can you do?  In your situation, it may be helpful to meet with others in your class to get their impressions and exchange ideas.  Perhaps form a study group or meet with someone over a coffee/tea.  Another idea is to explore trusted resources/sites on the Internet for learning about specific concepts or terms, in a manner that best suits your learning style (e.g., are you a visual learner?  learn best by listening or doing?)  Best wishes!

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Linda Ann’s Answer

Read the assigned chapter before coming to class. Take hand-written notes on what you have read (while reading) . IF your textbook included online quizzes, use them!


Try cognitive mapping (a google search will provide links for this technique).


Does your school provide peer tutors? If yes, use them.


Make an appointment with the instructor to go over your concerns.

Thank you comment icon It may help to use documentaries and videos to gain an understanding of how theories developed or to understand processes. For example, I love to use animations in my classes to help students understand the physiological and mental processes. As with all resources, use caution when taking information from sources outside the classroom. Jaclyn Anderson
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