Yr Egwyddor Proffwydo – Un rheol i wneud popeth rydych chi’n ei ysgrifennu yn haws ei ddarllen

llaw yn sgrifennu

Un o’n mecanweithiau goroesi mwyaf effeithiol fel bodau dynol yw ein gallu i broffwydo. Rydym yn ei wneud drwy’r amser, yn gwneud cyfres o ragdybiaethau am sut fydd sefyllfa benodol cyn i ni gamu mewn iddi. Wrth arsylwi chwaraewyr pêl fas mae gwyddonwyr ym maes chwaraeon wedi sylwi ni all batiwr weld y bêl yn dod ato – maent yn proffwydo lle y dylid bwrw ar sail cyfres o arwyddion gan y taflwr. Gorau oll y gallai broffwydo gorau oll fydd ei berfformiad.

Nid yw hyn yn wir ar gyfer chwaraewyr pêl fas yn unig. Y gorau y gallwn broffwydo sefyllfa rydym ynddi – boed yn mynd i’r gwaith, cymryd rhan mewn seminar neu hyd yn oed gwylio ffilm, y mwyaf cyffyrddus y byddwn a bydd modd cyflawni pa bynnag dasg yn well.

Felly sut mae hyn yn gysylltiedig ag ysgrifennu?

Yr ateb yw gosod eich hun yn esgidiau eich darllenwr. Po fwyaf y gall broffwydo am eich ysgrifennu y mwyaf y bydd yn deall, prosesu a chofio am yr hyn rydych chi wedi’i ysgrifennu.

Mae proffwydo yn gwneud bywyd yn haws a’r ysgrifenwyr gorau yw’r rhai sy’n ei gwneud yn haws i’r darllenydd broffwydo’r hyn sydd i ddod yn y testun. Sylwer nad ydym wedi dweud yr ysgrifenwyr academaidd gorau – mae’r rheol proffwydo hwn yn wir ar gyfer bron pob math o ysgrifennu, o negeseuon e-bost a negeseuon testun i adroddiadau ac erthyglau papurau newyddion. (Efallai mai ffuglen yw’r un eithriad lle y mae mwyafrif y gelfyddyd yn cynnwys peidio â datgelu’r wybodaeth gywir i gadw’r darllenydd i ddyfalu).

Felly sut allwch chi ei wneud yn haws i’r darllenwyr broffwydo’r hyn sydd i ddod nesaf?

Rhywfaint o eiriau o gyngor (ar gyfer ysgrifennu academaidd) fyddai:

Rhagymadroddion a chrynodebau – Sicrhewch fod y rhain yn amlinellu eich dadl yn glir a’r llwybr y byddwch yn ei ddilyn i gyrraedd yno. Peidiwch â chadw gwybodaeth yn ôl ar gyfer y diweddglo – ar ôl darllen rhagymadrodd da yna dylai eich darllenydd wybod yn union i le y byddwch yn ei dywys erbyn diwedd y traethawd.

Penawdau Paragraffau – Hefyd a elwir yn frawddegau pwnc. Dylai brawddegau cyntaf eich paragraff amlinellu’n glir yr hyn y dylai’r darllenydd ei ddisgwyl dros y brawddegau dilynol. Felly, er enghraifft, pe bawn i’n dechrau paragraff trwy ysgrifennu ‘Mae Abertawe yn lle gwell i fyw na Chaerdydd am dri rheswm’ byddai’r hyn y byddwch yn ei ddisgwyl yn y paragraff nesaf yn amlwg. Mewn gwirionedd dylai fod yn bosib i ddarllenydd ddarllen y rhagymadrodd a ‘brawddegau pwnc’ eich traethawd yn unig i ddilyn eich trafodaeth.

Ar lefel brawddegau – Mae’r rheol proffwydo hefyd yn gweithio ar lefel brawddegau. Mae geiriau cysylltiol syml megis ‘fodd bynnag’, ‘serch hynny’ a ‘felly’ yn helpu eich darllenydd i broffwydo’r math o wybodaeth sy’n dod nesaf: a yw’n cyferbynnu â’r hyn a nodwyd eisoes neu’n ei atgyfnerthu; a yw’n cyflwyno pwynt newydd neu’n cadarnhau’r un rydych eisoes wedi’i wneud?

Pwysig

Un peth allweddol i’w nodi yma yw gwireddu eich addewidion. Os yw darllenydd yn aros am y tri rheswm hynny ac rydych yn rhoi dau yn unig iddo gall hynny achosi yr un dryswch a phe baech heb roi unrhyw gyfarwyddyd o gwbl.

Arwain y Dall

Un gyfatebiaeth a ddefnyddir yn aml ar gyfer y syniad hwn yw dychmygu eich bod yn tywys person dall trwy adeilad prysur. Efallai y byddwch yn cydio yn ei law a rhoi arweiniad cyson iddo megis ‘Rydym yn mynd i gymryd tri cham ymlaen yna stopio. Rwy’n mynd i agor y drws, byddwn yn cerdded trwyddo ac yn troi i’r chwith.’ Dysgwch ddechrau meddwl am eich darllenydd yn yr un ffordd. Ar bob cam dylai fod yn sicr o le ei fod yn mynd a’r hyn y bydd yn ei wneud nesaf.

Y Tu Hwnt i’r Byd Academaidd

Fel yr ydym eisoes wedi’i adnabod, nid yw hyn ar gyfer ysgrifennu academaidd yn unig ond yn hytrach i’r mwyafrif o ysgrifennu a chyfathrebu rydych chi’n ei wneud. Rhowch linellau pwnc clir i’ch negeseuon e-bost sy’n crynhoi’r cynnwys a bydd eich ffrindiau a’ch cydweithwyr yn diolch i chi. Dechreuwch eich adroddiadau trwy grynodeb byr a bydd eich darllenwyr yn llawer mwy tebygol o ddeall y canlyniadau.

Defnyddiwch yr egwyddor hon ar gyfer pob peth rydych chi’n ei ysgrifennu a gwyliwch sut mae pobl eraill yn ysgrifennu – o bapurau newyddion i flogiau i gyfnodolion academaidd – gwnewch yr un peth.

Ydych chi’n dymuno gwella eich Ysgrifennu Academaidd? Cofrestrwch ar ein Cwrs Ysgrifennu Traethodau Israddedig yma.

Neu ewch i PASS i dderbyn mwy o gyngor ar wella eich ysgrifennu.

The Prediction Principle – One rule to make everything you write easier to read

hand writing with pen

One of our most effective survival mechanisms as humans is our ability to predict. We’re doing it all the time, making a series of presumptions about what a particular situation is going to be like before we step into it. Sports scientists observing baseball players have noticed that a batter can’t actually see a ball in flight – they predict where to swing based on a series of signals that they pick up from the pitcher. The better they can predict, the better they perform.

It’s not just true for baseball players.  The more we can accurately predict about any situation we find ourselves in – be it going to work, participating in a seminar or even watching a movie, the more comfortable we will be and the better we will be able to complete whatever task we are trying to perform.

So how does this relate to writing?

The answer is to put yourself in the shoes of your reader. The more that they can predict about your writing, the more they will understand, process and remember whatever you are writing.

Prediction makes life easier, and the best writers are those that make it easy for the reader to make predictions about what is coming in the text. Notice we haven’t said the best academic writers – this prediction rule is true for almost all writing, from emails and text messages to reports and newspaper articles.  (The one exception might be fiction, where much of the art involves leaving the right information out to keep a reader guessing)

So how can you make it easier for your readers to predict what’s coming next?

A few key pointers (for academic writing) would be:

Introductions and Abstracts – make sure these clearly outline your argument and the route you will take to get there. Don’t hold back information for the conclusion – after reading a good introduction your reader should know exactly where you’ll be taking them by the end of the essay.

Paragraph Headers – Also known as topic sentences. The first sentence or two of your paragraph should clearly outline exactly what the reader should expect over the following few sentences. So, for example if I started a paragraph with ‘Swansea is a better place to live than Cardiff for three reasons’ you would be very clear what to expect within the coming paragraph. In fact, it should be possible for a reader to read just the introduction and ‘topic sentences’ of your essay and follow your argument.

Sentence level – The prediction rule works at a sentence level too. Simple linking words such as ‘however’ ‘furthermore’ or ‘therefore’ help your reader to predict the type of information that will come next: is it contrasting with what’s come before or backing it up; is it introducing a new point or confirming one that you’ve already made?

Important

One key thing to note here is that you need to deliver on your promises. If a reader is waiting for those three reasons and you only give them two, it can be as confusing as not being given any direction at all.

Leading the Blind

One analogy we often give for this idea is to imagine you are guiding a blind person through a busy building. You might take them by the hand and offer them constant guidance such as ‘We’re going to take three steps forwards and then stop. I’m going to open the door, we’ll walk through and turn left.’ Learn to think of your reader in the same way. At every step they should be sure where they are going and what they are going to do next.

Away from Academia

As we have already identified, this does not just apply to academic writing, but the majority of writing and communication you have to do. Give your emails clear subject lines that summarise the content and your friends and colleagues will thank you. Start your reports with a concise abstract and your readers will be far more likely to understand the results.

Use this principle in everything you write, and watch how other writers – from newspapers to bloggers to academic journals – do the same.

Looking to improve your Academic Writing? Sign up to our Undergraduate Essay Writing Course here.

Or see PASS for more tips on improving your writing.

Pŵer Dysgu Ysbeidiol – Sut gall un tric syml eich helpu i ddysgu mwy mewn hanner yr amser.

Mae’n swnio’n rhy dda i fod yn wir ond ydy? Ond mae gwyddoniaeth wedi profi dro ar ôl tro bod estyn eich sesiynau dysgu dros gyfnod amser yn ffordd lawer mwy effeithiol o astudio na cheisio gwneud popeth ar yr un pryd.

Hanes Dysgu a Chof

Yn ôl yn y 1880au, dechreuodd gwyddonydd o’r enw Ebbinghaus gynnal cyfres o arbrofion ar effaith amser ar gof. I wneud hyn, ysgrifennodd gannoedd o ‘sillau disynnwyr’ wedi’u trefnu’n grwpiau o 12, a phrofodd ei allu i’w hadalw. Y canlyniad –  na ddylai fod yn syndod i neb –  oedd bod y geiriau disynnwyr wedi dod yn fwy anodd eu cofio gydag amser. Plotiodd ei ganlyniadau ar graff, a galwodd ei ganfyddiadau ‘Cromlin Anghofio’.

Picture of Ebbinghaus

Pe bai Ebbinghaus wedi gorffen ei arbrofion yno, mae’n ddigon tebygol na fyddai neb yn cofio amdano nawr. Ond, drwy gydol ei ymchwil, daeth ar draws rhywbeth sy’n dal i fod yn un o’r darganfyddiadau pwysicaf erioed ym maes dysgu.

Roedd Ebbinghaus am wybod faint o waith byddai angen ei wneud cyn y gallai gofio rhywbeth yn gyson. Darganfu fod angen ailadrodd rhestr o sillau disynnwyr 68 o weithiau cyn y gallai sgorio 100% yn gyson mewn prawf a osododd iddo ei hun wythnos wedyn. Unwaith eto, mae’n debygol nad oes dim byd newydd yno – rydym i gyd yn gyfarwydd â’r syniad bod rhywbeth yn fwy tebygol o aros yn y cof drwy ei ailadrodd dro ar ôl tro.

Ond, canfu hefyd y gallai sgorio 100% mewn prawf drwy ailadrodd rhywbeth 38 o weithiau yn unig, pe bai’n dosbarthu’r ailadroddiadau hyn dros amser. Felly, er enghraifft, gallai ailadrodd y rhestr 13 o weithiau un diwrnod, 13 o weithiau’r diwrnod nesaf a 12 y diwrnod wedyn. Mae hynny bron hanner yr amser yn astudio, ond canlyniad gwell. A dyna rywbeth a ddylai apelio at bawb!

Mae gwyddoniaeth wedi ymchwilio ymhellach i’r darganfyddiad hwn ac wedi canfod bod ysbeidiau optimaidd ar gyfer dosbarthu eich dysgu. Dywedwn eich bod am ddysgu rhestr o eiriau newydd mewn iaith newydd.

I gael y perfformiad gorau posib, dewch yn ôl at y deunydd rydych am ei ddysgu ar ôl ysbeidiau o un diwrnod, un wythnos, yna un mis.

Pam mae’n gweithio

Mae’n bosib eich bod wedi clywed y syniad o’r blaen – po fwyaf rydych yn meddwl am syniad, mwyaf y caiff ei wreiddio yn eich meddwl. Gallech weld y meddyliau hyn fel llwybrau drwy gae o wair – po fwyaf rydych yn cerdded ar eu hyd, mwyaf sefydledig y byddant.

O ran dysgu – dychmygwch fod angen i chi gofio dyddiadau nifer o achosion cyfraith pwysig. Os ydych yn ailymweld â’r deunydd bob dydd, mae’n debyg i gerdded i lawr yr un llwybr bob dydd. Ni fydd y llwybr yn newid gormod oherwydd yr oedd yno ddoe hefyd. Ond, dywedwch eich bod yn ei adael am wythnos. Pan ddychwelwch iddo, mae’r llwybr wedi tyfu’n wyllt a bydd angen i chi weithio’n fwy caled i gerdded drwy’r gwair. Efallai y bydd angen pladur arnoch, neu o leiaf esgidiau mwy. Ond erbyn diwedd y gwaith caled hwnnw, bydd gennych lwybr dyfnach o lawer – un y bydd yn haws cerdded ar ei hyd y tro nesaf i chi ddod y ffordd hon.

Mae’r un peth yn wir am ddysgu – po fwyaf caled bydd angen i chi weithio i adalw gwybodaeth i gof, mwyaf bydd y cynnydd yn eich dysgu. Mae damcaniaeth yn bodoli o’r enw Desired Difficulty – sy’n dweud yn syml y dylech wneud dysgu’n anodd i chi eich hun i gynyddu’ch gallu i adalw gwybodaeth.

Cam Gweithredu

Pryd bynnag byddwch yn astudio rhywbeth newydd, gwnewch nodyn mewn calendr neu ddyddiadur i adolygu’r deunydd hwnnw ar ddyddiad diweddarach. Cofiwch, dylai’r ysbaid cyntaf fod yn weddol fyr, yna gallwch gynyddu’r amser rhwng sesiynau dysgu yn raddol. Mae 1 diwrnod, 3 diwrnod, 1 wythnos, 1 mis yn gymhareb dda i roi cynnig arni i ddechrau. Does dim rhaid i chi ddilyn yr union gymarebau hyn – mae unrhyw ddosbarthu’n well na dim.

Os nad ydych chi wedi arfer â defnyddio dyddiadur neu galendr – mae meddalwedd gwych ar gael i’ch helpu i fod yn drefnus.

https://www.supermemo.com/ yw’r meddalwedd a ddeilliodd yn uniongyrchol o ganfyddiadau Wozniak (y myfyriwr meddygaeth Pwylaidd y cyfeiriais i ato).

http://ankisrs.net/ dyma un arall sy’n cael ei argymell – dwi ddim wedi treulio llawer o amser yn ymchwilio i hyn, ond dwi’n meddwl ei fod yn caniatáu i chi amserlennu’ch cardiau fflach atgoffa.

I ddysgu rhagor o Haciau Astudio a systemau dysgu – gwnewch ein cwrs ar-lein, ‘Dysgu Sut i Ddysgu’

Cofrestrwch ar gyfer ein gweithdai Haciau Astudio.

The Power of Spaced Learning – How One Simple Trick Can Help You Learn More in Half The Time

Sounds too good to be true right? But science has proved time and time again that spacing out your learning sessions over a period of time is a far more effective way to study than trying to do it all at once.

A History of Learning and Memory

Picture of Ebbinghaus

Back in the 1880s a scientist called Ebbinghaus began conducting a series of experiments on the effect of time on memory. To do this he wrote out hundreds of ‘nonsense syllables’ into lists of 12 and tested his ability to recall them. What he found, unsurprisingly, was that over time the nonsense words became harder to remember. He plotted his results on a graph and called his findings The Curve of Forgetting.

Now if Ebbinghaus had left his experiments there, he probably wouldn’t have been remembered – we all know instinctively that we forget things over time. But throughout his research he actually came across what is still one of the single most important discoveries in learning science to date.

Ebbinghaus wanted to know how much work it would take before he could reliably remember something. He found that it took 68 repetitions of a list of nonsense syllables before he could score 100% on a test that he gave himself a week later. Again, probably nothing new there – we’re all familiar with the idea that the more we repeat something, the more likely it is to stick in our minds.

But he also found that he could score 100% on a test with just 38 repetitions, if he spaced these repetitions out. So for example, he might do 13 repetitions one day, 13 the next and 12 the day after. That’s nearly half the time studying, for the same result – something that should be attractive to all of us!

Ebbinghaus had stumbled on something we now call Spaced Learning. Science has looked further into this discovery and found that there are actually optimal intervals for spacing out your learning. Say you want to learn a set of new vocabulary in a new language. For optimal performance, come back to material you want to learn at intervals of one day, one week, then one month.

Why it works

You might have heard before the idea that the more you think a thought, the more deeply engrained it becomes in your mind. You could see these thoughts like pathways through a field of grass – the more you walk down them the more deeply engrained they become.

As far as learning is concerned – let’s say you need to remember the dates for a number of important law cases. If you revisit the information every day, well, it’s like your walking down that same path every day. The path doesn’t change too much, because it was there yesterday as well. But let’s say you leave it for a week. When you come back to it the path has nearly overgrown and you’re going to have to work a bit harder to get through that grass. Perhaps you’ll have to get a machete out, or at least some bigger boots. But at the end of that hard work, you’re going to have a much deeper pathway – one that’s easier to get down next time you come along. The harder you have to work to retrieve information, the longer it will stick in your mind.

This is the basis of a theory of learning developed by Professor Robert Bjork called ‘Desired Difficulty’. Essentially, the harder you make learning for yourself, the more effective it will be. By spacing sessions out, you are naturally making it harder for yourself to remember the material. (To do this most effectively, give yourself a test on the material rather then jumping straight in and reading it again. More on the power of testing in future posts).

Action Point

Whenever you study something new, make a note in a calendar or diary to revise that material at a later date. Remember, the first interval should be fairly short, then gradually make them longer. 1 day, 3 days, 1 week, 1 month is a good ratio to try first. You don’t have to follow these exact ratios – any spacing is better than none.

If you’re not the sort of person that keeps a diary or calendar there is some great software that can help you stay organised.

https://www.supermemo.com/ helps you schedule your revision calendar.

http://ankisrs.net/ is another one that’s been recommended – I haven’t spent too much time looking at this, but I think you can schedule your flashcard reminders.

Interested in finding out more about how learning works? Sign up for our Study Hacks workshops

Better Time Management #1. The Power of a To Do List

Richard Branson has spoken many times of the one tool he could not have built his business empire without. It doesn’t cost much. It doesn’t need to be plugged in. And you can take it with you anywhere.

If you haven’t guessed yet – or you didn’t click on the link – it’s a notebook, carried with you at all times and used to write down any ideas, new appointments or commitments and random thoughts. Successful people the world over swear by this simple system – and anyone can use it to become more productive.

Before we look at how to use it, here’s why using a notebook is so effective.

writing-1209700_960_720

In his brilliant book ‘The Organised Mind’ Daniel Levitin tells a story of the time he met the presidential candidate Jimmy Carter:

“He spoke as though we had all the time in the world. At one point an aide came to take him off to the next person he needed to meet. Free from having to decide when the meeting would end, President Carter could let go of those nagging inner voices and just be there.”

The nagging inner voices he means are the constant worries you’ve forgotten to move that dentist appointment, the idea you’ve just had for a better way to write that report, trying to remember whether it was 7 or 7.30 that you said you’d meet your friend for a drink.

The less of these kind of thoughts you have to deal with, the freer your mind can be to focus on what’s important. As David Allen, author of getting things done says in this brilliant talk:

“Your brain is for having ideas, not holding them”

Imagine how much clearer your thinking would be if every little decision you had to make through the course of a day was taken care of by a team of staff. If you never had to look at your calendar because someone would always tell you where you needed to be.

Unfortunately, not all of us can justify a team of staff to run our diaries. But we can take one important concept from this, and apply it to our own daily routines.

Externalise

This simply means taking the items occupying your mind out of your head and into the world.

Here’s Levitin again:

“When we have something on our minds that is important – especially a To-Do item – we’re afraid we’ll forget it, so our brain rehearses it, tossing it around and around in circles in something cognitive psychologists actually refer to as the rehearsal loop… The problem is that it works too well, keeping items in rehearsal until we attend to them.”

Writing things down solves this problem. One of the first steps to great time management is to write down everything.

By writing down your thoughts as soon as they come to you, you are telling your mind that you will come back to them when you choose to. You’re reassuring it that it doesn’t need to worry about holding onto them for you.

One of the reasons we feel stress is that our minds are trying to remember too many things at once. Psychologists have found that we can only effectively hold around 4 items in our working memory – any more than that and we start to become overwhelmed.

Almost all of us encounter more than four things we need to remember throughout the course of a day. Writing them down is the first step to becoming less stressed and more productive.

Of course, the system only works if you come back to your notes. So make it a habit once a day to return to your notebook and deal with all the things you’ve written down. Add those dates into your calendar. Call back the dentists. Spend some time expanding on the idea for the lyrics you had for that song.

Aim to make this a habit over the next month and keep note of how you feel. Possible effects might be that you feel less stressed. That you become more on top of your work. Or that you have an idea that launches a multi-billion dollar business.

time

Want to improve your own Time Management? Our popular Time Management workshop is running at different times throughout the term. Book here: (then write down the date!)

 

Ben Martin