DEVELOPING EFFECTIVE STUDY HABITS
GET THE STUDY HABIT
Did you ever stop to wonder what sets apart the really successful students from the average ones?
Why do some students who appear to study all the time just get by, while others who don’t appear to put in as much time and effort do well? Is it all related to IQ and genetics or are some other factors involved? The truth is that success in school is not so much determined by sheer intelligence as knowing how to study.
Studying is a skill. Being successful in school requires a high level of study skills. Students must first learn these skills, practice them and develop effective study habits in order to be successful. Very often the study habits and practices developed and used in high school do not work for students in college.
Good study habits include many different skills: time management, selfdiscipline, concentration, memorization, organization, and effort. Desire to succeed is important, too. In this module you will discover your areas of strength and identify your weaknesses pertaining to studying. You will learn about your preferred learning channel, tips to organize your studies, and ways to help youremember what you study.
The skills you will learn about in this module can be applied in other areas of your life as well: your job, your career, or any activity that requires thought, planning, information processing, and selfdiscipline. You’ll find that once you develop effective study habits, the job of studying and learning will become easier. Instead of working harder, you’;ll be working smarter.
We all use all three learning channels. In fact, we use all our senses in learning about the world around us, but each of us has a tendency to lean more heavily on one of the three learning channels – visual, auditory, or hands on. You can improve your study habits by developing all three learning channels.
TO IMPROVE AS A VISUAL LEARNER…
- visualize what you are studying
- use color in your notes (colored pens, highlighters, etc.)
- visualize what the instructor is lecturing about
- draw pictures and diagrams
- use mind maps in your notes
- use picture and graphics to reinforce learning
- learn from videos
TO IMPROVE AS AN AUDITORY LEARNER…
- listen to tapes of recorded assignments
- tape record your own textbook reading
- read out loud
- talk over ideas from class and what you are studying with other students
- participate in class discussions
- listen to audiotapes on the subject
TO IMPROVE AS A HANDS ON LEARNER…
- stand up and move around while you are studying
- take frequent breaks while studying
- make use of your hands and write things down as you study
- use the computer to reinforce learning
- be physically active; experiment with objects
- memorize or drill while walking or exercising
HOW TO STUDY
Reading and Studying Textbooks:
As soon as you buy your textbook for a class, give yourself a head start before going to class. Read the Table of Contents, prefaces, introduction, and any other up-front material in the book. Leaf through the book and see what it contains. Read the captions, read chapter titles, and go to the back of the book to see if there is a glossary, an index, answers to quizzes given throughout the text, etc.
Get familiar with your book. Treat it like a tool you want to use with proficiency.
When you are ready to begin reading a chapter, don’t just plunge into your reading. Here is a sure-fire way to get the most out of your reading:
First, preview the chapter. Look at headings, subheadings, topic sentences, boldfaced and italicized words, pictures, diagrams, graphs, summaries, and review questions at the end.
Second, ask yourself questions about the subheadings.
Third, read a section of the chapter (one subheading at a time). Put the book down and ask yourself what you just read. Did you understand what it was about? Could you answer questions about it? Could you explain it to
someone else? Continue reading and stopping to think about what you justread. Ask yourself questions.
Fourth, don’t skip any part of the chapter. Read the sidelines, the captions under photos, definitions, and any additional information the author has included. It’s all there to help you learn.
Fifth, don’t be afraid to mark your text – use different colored highlighters for particularly important parts, but don’t defeat the purpose of highlighting by overdoing it.
Sixth, outline the chapter: When you have read the chapter through, go back and take notes. Define terms, draw diagrams, and explain things in your own words. Make up memory tricks to help you remember new terms.
Forexample, if you are studying the part of the brain called the “hippocampus” you may use a memory trick of association, picturing a “hippo” with a good memory, since the hippocampus deals with memory formation.
Seventh, draw arrows or other symbols to direct you to important details or definitions. If a word appears that you do not know, look it up and write the definition in the margin. Underline key points.
- Do not cram the night before a test. Distribute your review in half-hour segments over a period of days. If you do not adopt a structured study schedule, you will not master required course material and you will set yourself up to fail.
- Learning is accumulative. New ideas must be incorporated with previous material from lectures, readings, and any other assignments such as labs. You have to continuously make the connection in your mind from new material to previously learned material and/or experiences. Putting it all together is easier if you schedule time daily to read, to think, to write, to reflect, and to review.
Improved learning is the natural result of this few steps approach to studying and effectively using your time.
Not having enough time to study means you lack organization, so by managing your time, you have control over your life and a chance to do more of what you want to do.