We’ve all heard the phrase “time flies when you’re having fun,” although does that same principle apply to schoolwork? I decided to look into how changing your approach to homework or studying can not only make them seem less time-consuming, but also help you learn.
A better mood has been proven to help the brain understand and retain new information in a variety of ways. Firstly, it can help incentivize work by increasing the rewards felt during and after the task. Additionally, a good mood increases the dopamine released into your prefrontal cortex, one of the more advanced regions of your brain that is responsible for many important tasks in learning. This increase in dopamine helps transition people into the flow state, or the “zone”, and comprehensively absorb new information. In all, being intentional about changing your mood can be referred to as cognitive flexibility, “the ability to adapt our behavior and thinking in response to the environment,” and can help people work more effectively and efficiently.
But how does one change their mood and approach to schoolwork? One way is by sparking your curiosity in the subject you are tackling. While in high school students do not always have the ability to choose which subjects they are studying, making it a priority to search for the qualities of the subject that you are interested in may help. For example, you may not love economics, but maybe you are interested in sociology. Thus, within that class, take that angle, looking at how economics intertwines with the “development, structure, and functioning of human society”. Recently, the University of Michigan CS Mott Children’s Hospital and the Center of Human Growth and Development conducted a longitudinal study in which they found that curious children performed the best in school. They also identified that more commonly valued abilities, such as focus, were actually less important than curiosity when learning.
Another way to change your mood when completing your schoolwork is incorporating fun. A study conducted at Archbishop Williams High School and the Technical University of Denmark found that students that used Labster, a gamified laboratory simulator, in their classes found the lesson and its content more interesting. So maybe try a Quizlet, a Kahoot, or a Jeopardy game as a study tool!
Finally, altering your study environment can also make it a more enjoyable process. Many things can improve a study space, including but not limited to seating, lighting, noise, and color. Utilizing natural light, a comfortable chair, and a white noise machine could make all of the difference in your daily work. Even having a warm drink next to you could help.
Studying does not need to be an arduous process, allow yourself to find enjoyment in it. So, when you’re studying for your next math test or finishing your history homework, open the curtains, find a comfy spot, pull up a Kahoot, and get curious.