We learn best by stories and association with vivid detail. In fact the more brilliant the detail the better we remember the facts. Don't believe me? What do you remember most, the grey clouds or the rainbow, after a rainstorm? Both are basically water with light passing through them but one is brilliant and detailed.
The more the senses can be included in the learning process the better. This is why babies want to experience a toy, for example, with all of their senses. Babies developing nervous systems are hungry for information. We have all seen the determined baby that will do all they can possibly do, including making a scene in some cases. All to hear the new toy, taste the new toy, smell the new toy, and touch the new toy from all angles. As adults we lose much of this curiosity due to conditioning and habits which I will discuss in a bit.
One of the most important factors in learning is our environment both internal and external. Our external environment, where we are studying or learning, should be calm, peaceful and free of distraction. At the same time the space should have aspects and properties in it that excites and feeds our creativity. This can be anything from color on the walls, to paintings, pictures, furniture, lighting, and accessories.
Then there is the internal environment of the mind. This is where we can soar off into the heavens or simply put get stuck in the mud. How we become conditioned to learn can affect us for our entire lives if we do not learn efficiently. Most of us allow memories from past events to push emotional buttons that then cause us stress. This emotional-stress connection makes for a bad learning environment for we are associating new material that could be fun and uplifting to a past disagreeable occurrence or feeling, tainting the new information and keeping us from embracing this new material with enthusiasm.
When we study under stress we retain less than a half to a quarter of the information studied. Then even worse is cramming or doing an all-nighter. This act actually causes the brain to turn toxic, causing the brain to short out. In this state it is very difficult for the brain to process information correctly, (Translation: you misinterpret information like the questions on the test or the information people are telling you). After we take the test and then finally and eventually go to sleep, the brain experiences a once over by the immune system in order to pick up the pieces form the stress of the study-all-nighter. Sadly much of the information crammed in is lost in the process leaving the person with only a vague recollection and a slight familiarity with the information but very few details to recall.