Miguel Panao | Professor and Author

Finding ways to improve scientific writing and academic productivity.

Addiction in learning

Addiction affects learning and I’m not referring to drugs, but a substance we produce in our brains. Dopamine.

Photo by rawpixel at Unsplash

Photo by rawpixel at Unsplash

We can look at this from two different perspectives.

The negative one is not working on our learning when we have the chance, like in a class, and opt to spend our attention on Facebook, texting or browsing. This addiction generates irreversibilities in the learning process which demand a lot of effort to recover.

The positive one is to invest in learning one small thing at a time. Each time will release some dopamine from the sense of accomplishment. We may be so overwhelmed by actual learning that we keep producing dopamine and learning can become addictive.

The first perspective depletes our willpower and cognitive energy. The second perspective does the opposite. Which one would you choose?

The second, right? But what I experienced today with my students was otherwise, since they often opt for the first. At the end of class, I sincerely gave them my apologies because I failed to persuade them to pursue the second perspective.

It means I’m still learning and ask myself: what is the smallest thing I can do tomorrow to work on my persuasion skills?

About Miguel Panao

I am a Professor at the University of Coimbra in Mechanical Engineering. I am also author of books in the fields of environmental ethics and Science and Religion. From the several research projects, this site is personal and dedicated to the search for the best approaches, tools, techniques to improve scientific productivity.

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