Plan for Repetition: How Course Content-Overlap Helps

Every semester, I have (by chance) selected courses that overlap somehow. For example, I once chose to take a forensics course the same semester I took a photography course. Little did I know that forensic science would help solidify lessons I was learning in photography—concepts such as aperture and shutter speed, depth of field and lighting. This semester, with the end in sight, all of my classes are specific to my major—Psychology. Once again, these classes overlap.

Example of how course work can overlap in different classes.
An example of how my course work overlaps in different classes.

“Doesn’t that cause more confusion?” you may wonder. In actuality, no. Each course is designed with the unique style and care of each professor in such a way that the topics and objectives learned are clearly different. And, obviously, each course has a specific focus—my Abnormal Psych class is vastly different from my Neurological Bases of Human Behavior class. As I have moved through these two courses, however, similar concepts have been discussed. This has been particularly helpful for me in learning topics that I usually struggle with learning or remembering—things like brain anatomy and cell functions in the Central Nervous System.

Research has shown that repetition results in increased learning; therefore, covering the same topics in different classes is, in essence, a great study/memorization tool. Often, the wording and presentation style are slightly different, which helps us to understand difficult concepts. So, if we struggle with grasping the concept as it is presented in one class, chances are high that another instructor’s explanation will help us to understand this concept better.

Most importantly, I believe, repetition throughout our college career (I can’t tell you how many times I have learned and re-learned about Freud!), prepares us for a successful future. There are certain concepts, tools, theories, and terms that each of us will need to have engrained in our minds once we begin to put our degree to use. Often, the stresses of life and time constraints imposed by priorities outside our schoolwork can lead to a hurried learning experience that is not completely conducive to memorization and understanding. Therefore, it can only help us to take courses that repeat concepts and re-teach topics vital for our major.

In conclusion, I leave you with two pieces of advice. One: try to take courses that may overlap or repeat concepts. Two: even if you do not follow my first piece of advice, be open to re-reading already-learned information. It is easy to skim over or skip topics we’ve learned in the past; however, this is often to our detriment. Take the time to read all the lesson information and challenge yourself to learn new things about each topic, no matter how many times you may have read up on it before.