How to Learn II

By Michael Melloch

Electrical and Computer Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

Published on


Learning is the process of developing mental models. A mental model is a mental representation of some external reality. These mental models should become progressively more complex as we deepen our understanding with study. It is also important to develop links between our various mental models. With this matrix of mental models, we can solve more complex problems by drawing on several mental models; or develop something new by connecting two mental models in a way no one else has.

There are many things that influence learning that will be discussed. The first is how memory works and the best ways to put things permanently in memory. The role of spacing, interleaving, where you study, and sleep in memory formation are presented.

People approach life with either a fixed, or growth, mindset. People with a growth mindset believe they can get better with effort and that there is no predicting how good you can eventually get at something. Developing a growth mindset will help in acquiring the self-control and grit to stick with what you are trying to accomplish such as learning. Mindset, self-control, and grit are discussed.

To get better at something you need to practice purposefully, not naively. Techniques of purposeful practice, self-testing, spacing, interleaving, note-taking, allowing incubation to occur, sleep, etc. are discussed.

The human brain is 2% of the body’s weight but uses 20% of the body’s glucose and oxygen. The role of sleep, nutrition, and exercise on the health and functioning of the brain are presented.

This lecture is in two parts, this is Part II, Part I can be found here.


  • Sleep
  • Mindsets
  • Self-Control and Grit
  • Exercise
  • Meditation
  • Nutrition


Michael R. Melloch Michael R. Melloch received the B.S.E.E., M.S.E.E., and Ph.D. degrees from Purdue University in 1975, 1976, and 1981 respectively. From June 1976 to August 1978 he was a design engineer at Intel Corporation where he worked on the 8275, a CRT controller chip; the 8748, the first single-chip microcomputer; and was co-designer of the 8051, a second-generation single-chip microcomputer. Intel produced the 8051 till March of 2007, but other vendors still offer the 8051. In February of 1982 he joined the Central Research Laboratories at Texas Instruments as a member of the Technical Staff. At Texas Instruments his research interests centered around GaAs surface acoustic wave devices. In August of 1984 he joined the School of Electrical Engineering at Purdue University as an Assistant Professor. He is presently a Full Professor and Associate Head of ECE, and former Assistant Dean of Engineering. He has co-authored 359 conference talks, 311 technical papers, 8 book chapters, and is holder of 6 US Patents.

Prof. Melloch is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, the American Vacuum Society, and the Optical Society of America. He has received the 2008 and 2013 Motorola Excellence in Teaching Award, the 2009 and 2014 Wilfred Hesselberth Award for Teaching Excellence, the 2012 Tau Beta Pi's Dean Marion B. Scott Outstanding Professor Award, the 2012 Murphy Outstanding Undergraduate Teacher Award, and the 2016 Dean A.A. Potter Best Teacher in Engineering Award. In 2012 he was inducted into the Purdue Teaching Academy and in 2013 he was Inducted into the Purdue Book of Great Teachers.

Sponsored by

Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Michael Melloch (2021), "How to Learn II,"

    BibTex | EndNote