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Learning Strategies

General

Inspite of numerous research-back study strategies, most students ignore them and use strategies that are typically less effective or even detrimental to their course performance. Morehead, Rhodes & DeLozier (2016) research suggests "instructors’ knowledge of study skills exceeded those of the student respondents but this advantage was generally not large” (p. 267).

  • Identify conceptual links and sequences
  • Create a model or mind map to simplify
    • Use headings and sub-headings
    • Sequence pre-requisites
    • 30 minutes is a rough guide per chunk of study
  • Rethink rereading notes as it typically dioes not promote deep learning
    • Includes highlighting (unless utilized for deeper learning experiences such as tcritical discussions and analyses)
  • Study dissimilar content "back to back" to decrease confusion (contextual interference)
  • Keep up to date with current issues specific or related to your course fields
  • Follow a study schedule and stick to it!
  • Segment or chunk your study with refresher breaks (do a little bit at a time)
    • Study one subject for a while...then go to another subject every 30-45 minutes (contextual interference)
    • If necessary come back and continue on the original subject again later
    • Exercise or walk for 10-15 minutes
    • Keep refresher breaks short (10-15 minutes)
  • Quality of time rather than quantity
    • Set yourself long, mid-range and short-term goals
    • Commit to these goals
    • Ensure these goals are realistic, challenging and attainable
    • Challenge yourself to go further, learn more... beyond the expectations (or even limitations) of the course
    • Challenge your instructor to go further and teach you more
      • It’s a buffet.....get extra helpings
  • Limit distractions
    • Study where you can concentrate, have purposeful discussions, engage in group analyses
    • Quality effort rather than quantity
  • Eat healthily and exercise regularly
  • Establish a regular sleep routine
    • "Evidence suggests that various sleep stages are involved in the consolidation of different types of memories and that being sleep deprived reduces one’s ability to learn," (Division of Sleep Medicine, 2007)

References

  • Division of Sleep Medicine, (2007). Sleep, learning and memory. Harvard Medical School
  • Morehead, K., Rhodes, M. G., and DeLozier, S. (2016). Instructor and student knowledge of study strategies. Memory, 24(2), 257-271

Before Class

  • Ensure you have reviewed your previous class notes and activities
  • Identify key questions in need of clarification
  • Be ready to participate and contribute to the class
    • Ask questions
    • Answer questions
    • Participate in discussions
  • Analyze and synthesize course information/concepts
    • Does this make sense?
    • Is it logical? 
    • Does it align with the research?
  • Ensure you are up-to-date with your readingsUtilize readings usually supplement (additional clarification/extensions) the class and will clarify concepts addressed in class

After Class

  • Summarize notes in your own words (selective organization)
    • Share and compare your notes with classmates to decrease misconceptions
    • Clarify any concerns as soon as possible
    • Add to them examples and other relevant materials that you had not included in your original notes
    • Use diagrams, flow charts, etc.
  • Categorize information, using headings and sub-headings
  • Arrange with fellow students to study together
    • Discuss concepts and themes
    • Quiz one another
  • Access books on the same topic and read related information
    • They may explain the concepts in a way which is easier to understand for you
  • Utilize instructor office hours
    • They are a critical resource for you!
    • Arrive with specific questions to ask
    • Have your current answers to these questions
  • Read the text(s)
    • Take notes as you read and write these notes, in your own words
    • Use diagrams or mind maps 
    • Utilize the headings to categorize and organize your notes
    • Link to class notes
    • Answer the questions listed in the text
  • Identify several questions that you need further clarification
    • Ask a classmate these questions, then share them in class
  • Allocate specific study/review times throughout the week to each class

During Class

  • Focus on the major concepts, ideas and key perspectives
  • Take notes on the major concepts/key points
    • You can add more detail (if necessary) later
    • Analyze what is being presented
    • Listen and think about the information being presented, then write a brief summary
  • Much of what is presented/discussed/analyzed reflects examples or other ways of perceiving the major concepts/key points
  • Be an active participant
    • Question and challenge your instructor with thoughtful responses
    • Share your ideas and questions with the class
    • Get everything out of the class you possibly can and want more!
  • If you are easily distracted
    • Sit closer to the instructor
    • Sit away from distractions
    • Be prepared for class prior to the start
  • Leave blanks for words and phrases missed
    • Later discuss with a fellow student to help fill in the blanks
    • If necessary, ask your instructor

Quizzes/Exams and Assignments

Quizzes/Exams

  • Be prepared
  • Maintain your readings, note analyses, learning activities and group discussions
  • Just like fitness you must be at it regularly… practice
  • Quiz each other on prepared questions
    • Discuss the answers
  • Relax and enjoy the quiz (it is game time!)
    • Consider it as just another challenge, an opportunity to test your skills and knowledge
    • This is a good check point to monitor your progress and learning
    • Identify areas which you need to clarify and revise
  • Be sure to follow directions when taking the test
  • Allocate more time to questions which carry the most points
  • Return to difficult questions later
  • Check all your answers
  • Multiple Choice
    • Read the question carefully and ensure you clearly understand what is being asked
    • Read all possible answers (where applicable)
    • Select the response which best answers the question being asked
  • Short answer/Essay
    • Read the question carefully and make sure you understand what is being asked
    • Outline paragraph and essay questions
    • Use headings and sub-headings (where appropriate)
    • Write answers succinctly addressing the question being asked or problem proposed
    • Be as clear and specific as possible
    • Include and cite research and other sources where possible

Assignments

  • Continually refer back to the question/challenge/parameters/rubric provided
  • Start broad with your data gathering and narrow in toward the key factors specific to your assignment
  • Use models, concept maps, examples and diagrams where appropriate
  • Write succinctly and in a logical sequence
  • Refer back to data/information and research sources often
  • ALWAYS cite/recognize information sources
  • Utilize headings and sub-headings where appropriate
    • Introduction
    • Body (with sub-headings where needed)
    • Summary/conclusion
  • Ensure spelling and grammar are correct (your computer can help guide with this)
  • Utilize appropriate formats for referencing sources
  • Have friends/classmates read/review for clarity

Last Published: Mar 12, 2021