Setting the Tone for Your Class: Guiding Students toward Effective Study Strategies

Use class time during the first week of the term to provide students with guidelines and suggestions for successful study strategies. Examples of study discussion topics included the following:

  • How to take notes effectively while reading the required text or during class meetings;
  • The importance of supplementing bullet headings in class Power Point slides with additional information provided during class or found in relevant assigned readings;
  • How to form an effective study group—rules for cooperation (focus on study, not socializing, quizzing one another, comparing notes from lecture, reading, peer review, etc.);
  • How to prepare for exams. Karpicke, Butler, & Roedgier (2009) report that students hold false beliefs about the effectiveness of various study strategies. Many students believe that reading the chapter several times is a good study strategy, but in actuality, this strategy is ineffective. Students will make better use of their study time if they use it for more effective study activities such as developing and answering questions they can expect to see on the exam, writing paraphrases of concepts in their own words and checking these against the reading or to another student’s interpretation to ensure that the paraphrase captures the intended meaning correctly. Encourage students to use more effective strategies when they study.


Karpicke, J. D., Butler, A. C., & Roediger, III, H. L. (2009). Metacognitive strategies in student learning: Do students practice retrieval when they study on their own? Memory, 17, 471-479.

This Weekly Teaching Note was adapted from a contribution to the Teaching and Learning Writing Consortium sponsored by Western Kentucky University.

Claudia J. Stanny, Ph.D., Director
Center for University Teaching, Learning, and Assessment
University of West Florida