Weekly Teaching Note
Nov 09 2011
Guide Your Students Toward More Effective Study Habits

Research on learning suggests that students who think about the process of learning are likely to learn more deeply andretain information longer, but students with poor study habits are less likely to reflect on and change their study habits (Fu and Gray, 2004; National Research Council, 2001, p.78). Since your students may not necessarily havegood study habits, it helps to make them aware of what works and what doesn’t. Here’s one easy way to do just that.

When you return exams, give each student an index card. Ask them to write, anonymously, the grade they received on the exam along with the ways they prepared for it, and return the card to you as they leave class that day. Specifically, what techniques did they use: re-reading their notes, reviewing flash cards, drawing diagrams, solving problem sets? Did they spread their studying out over several days, or cram it all in the daybefore the test? Did they study alone or in groups?

Sort the index cards into piles by grades. Then type up the study strategies. At the next class, give your students the list, so they can see what the “A” students did, the “B” students, and so on. Grouping study habits by ‘grade earned on the exam’ will help students realize which study habits are more effective, and which are less so.

Resources:
  • Ambrose, S.A., Bridges, M.W., DiPietro, M., Lovett, M.C., and Norman, M.K. (2010). How Learning Works: 7 research-based principles for smart teaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
  • Fu, W.T., and Gray, W.D. (2004). Resolving the paradox of the active user: Stable suboptimal performance in interactive tasks. Cognitive Science, 28(6), 901-935.
  • National Research Council. (2001). Knowing what students know: The science and design of educational assessment. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.


To follow up on any of these ideas, please contact me at fglazer@nyit.edu. This Weekly Teaching Note was adapted from a contribution to the Teaching and Learning Writing Consortium sponsored by Western Kentucky University.

Contributor:
Molly Baker
Director, Teaching and Learning Center
Black Hawk College
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