Professors: Students should explore interests outside of major

Forrest Milburn

Students should develop a love of their field of choice rather than just focusing on raising their GPAs, UT professors Robert Duke and Art Markman said at the ninth-annual University Lecture Series on Monday.

Duke and Markman are co-hosts of “Two Guys on Your Head,” a weekly series and podcast produced by KUT Radio that explores brain-related topics. Both professors spoke to first-year students on tactics for becoming better thinkers rather than just better students.

“It’s time to stop doing well in class and start doing well at life,” Markman said. “The thing about succeeding in life is that you don’t know which thing you learned is going to matter until after.”

Markman said students must practice studying often rather than just cramming for tests. When studying, students should stop once they find themselves thinking about topics unrelated to the material, according to Markman. Duke said this method often allows the brain to actually process what is read for later.
The ability to recall and apply information one has learned — an action Duke calls the “retrieval process” — is an important aspect of effective studying.

“The thing about getting stuff into your memory also involves getting stuff out of your memory,” Duke said. “So, if you don’t practice getting it out, you have no idea about what’s really there.”

According to Duke and Markman, the brain continues to process information once the brain goes to sleep.

“It turns out that one of the most important things you can do while in college is also one you were born to do the most of, and that’s sleep,” Markman said.

Markman argued that the brain constantly works through sensory details such as the faces of people seen the previous day. This process also includes getting rid of other irrelevant information.

After the lecture, biology freshman Isabella Stork said the professors taught her to not ignore her classes unrelated to her major since they are equally as important.

“Being pre-med, I have the intention of going to medical school, but after hearing this, I realize that it’s not all about the classes I’m taking related to my field,” Stork said. “I’m eventually going to have to make human connections, whether that’s with a patient in a room or another experience that will help me grow.”