Effective Strategies for Learning to Code: Focus, Repetition, and Mindset

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Learning how to code is hard. If I were to go back and teach someone how to code in a more effective manner, there are a few key concepts I would suggest focusing on. These ideas are based on lessons I learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, when I had to teach myself how to code from home and become a better student.

Focus is critical. Distractibility during the learning process can rob the brain of its ability to efficiently promote neuroplasticity, which is essential for learning. To help students build their ability to focus, I would create a meditation program. By strengthening their focus, we can reduce distractions and make the learning process more efficient.

Repetition is also essential for developing proficiency in any skill. To develop a habit of daily practice, I would have students follow the 4 components of habit formation from the book “Atomic Habits”. 

Habit loop:

1) Cue- Can be a certain time or place that are obvious that triggers your action

2) Craving- Think of 3 reasons why you want to create this new habit

3) Response – Do the action that you set out to do. Here is where meditation is essential to reduce user friction. 

4) Reward – Can be your favorite food or activity once they have done the desired action. We are essentially releasing dopamine after a response so the brain associates the action with reward. 

Dopamine release is not about reward, but about future action. Eventually being proficient at coding will lead to dopamine release when our code successfully compiles. 

Mindset is critical when it comes to learning. I would emphasize the importance of a growth mindset, which recognizes that we are all at the beginning of our learning journey and that every attempt at coding will not be perfect. It’s essential to develop our own meaning when we are suffering (e.g. struggling with a coding problem), and I would encourage students to write about moments involving technology that were meaningful to them to help develop this sense of meaning.

Overall, these strategies can be powerful tools for anyone looking to learn how to code. By emphasizing focus, repetition, and mindset, we can make the learning process more efficient and enjoyable for everyone involved.






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