Learning Strategy 18: Fluency / Automaticity

Robert Harris
Version Date: November 10, 2015

Description

Fluency, also known as automaticity, is the ability to recall information, solve a problem type, or perform a task quickly and without thinking. It is the result of overlearning--continuing to study the subject or material even after you  have learned it. For example, most people can recite the alphabet or the months of the year very quickly. These lists have been learned to the point of fluency.

Test.

1. Say the days of the week as fast as you can, beginnig with Sunday.

(My best time, pronouncing the days clearly, is 2.13 seconds.)

2. Now say the days of the week backwards, beginning with Saturday.

(After a few rounds of practice, my time is 3.37 seconds.)

If you are like me, you are more fluent in the forward direction than in the backward direction. That's because you have practiced the forward direction and are now fluent in it. (For a more dramatic time difference, say the alphabet forwards and then backwards. To learn it backwards with ease, see Learning Strategy 1 on Mnemonics.)

Method

The method of fluency is simple. Whether you are learning vocabulary by flash cards, practicing a gymnastic routine, playing a piano piece, or learning calculus, it's important to continue to study and practice even after you have learned the material or skill. Keep practicing always, and the knowledge or ability will continue to be refined and improved and be accessible faster and faster.

If you desire fluency in an area such as formulas (such as conversions from Fahrenheit to Celsius,  grams to ounces, or even furlongs per fortnight to miles per hour) practice by solving many examples (and in the case of conversions, in both directions).


High Performance Learning

Most areas of knowledge have certain fundamental "infotools" that are handy and used frequently. Lists of prepositions, conjunctions, and linking verbs in English, basic formulas in geometry, dates of important historical figures or events, and so forth can serve you well if you have them memorized to fluency. The same is true of the steps for problem solving or systems analysis, and on and on. Whatever you use frequently and want to stop having to look up--screen sizes, RGB color codes, you can become fluent with.

Keep practicing and your speed will increase.

High Performance Tip
For conversions and equivalents, develop a reference table that shows the relative values or products of a conversion for several sets of items. Memorize this table and you'll be able to interpolate a good guess just off the top of your head. For example, say you need to be familiar with the relationship between miles and kilometers. It might be a challenge to multiply 50 by 1.60934 in your head to find out how many kilometers are in 50 miles, but if you have a reference card, guesstimating woud be much easier:

Number
Miles --> Kilometers
Kilometers --> Miles
1
1.6
.62
10
16
6.2
25
40
15.5
50
80
31
100
160
62

Fahrenheit
Celsius
32
0
50
10
100
38
122
50
212
100

If you need a handy guesstimator for outdoor temperatuers, memorize this table and you'll always know how the temperatue reported in Celsius relates to the temperature in Fahrenheit.

Celsius
Fahrenheit
0
32
10
50
20
68
30
86
40
104





VirtualSalt Home
Learning Strategy 1: Mnemonics
Learning Strategy 2: Paraphrasing
Learning Strategy 3: Summarizing
Learning Strategy 4: Self Monitoring
Learning Strategy 5: Self Explanation
Learning Strategy 6: Mental Rehearsal
Learning Strategy 7: Self Assessment
Learning Strategy 8: The SQ3R Reading Method
Learning Strategy 9: Note Taking
Learning Strategy 10: The Leitner Flash Card System
Learning Strategy 11: Maintaining Interest
Learning Strategy 12: Conversation
Learning Strategy 13: Group Interaction
Learning Strategy 14: Idea Mapping
Learning Strategy 15: Drawing Pictures
Learning Strategy 16: Study Cycles
Learning Strategy 17: Sleep and Rest
Learning Strategy 18: Fluency / Automaticity
Learning Strategy 19: Learning Strategy Checklist
Learning Strategy 20: Asking Questions
Learning Strategy 21: Idea Linking
Learning Strategy 22: How to Use a Book
Learning Strategy 23: Active Listening
Learning Strategy 24: Close Reading
Learning Strategy 25: Analogies
Learning Strategy 26: Power Thinking
Learning Strategy 27: Planning for Learning
Learning Strategy 28: Outlining
Learning Strategy 29:
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About the author:
Robert Harris is a writer and educator with more than 25 years of teaching experience at the college and university level. RHarris at virtualsalt.com