Sunday, February 20, 2011

Study skills - effective learning habits for students

study skills
Effective study skills are essential learning habits for students. Some students have a knack of learning much in a short time. Others study for hours without much progress. An important differentiating factor is the method of study. Effective study habits can be learned (Barry L. Richardson and Murray Saffran 1985, D F Alexander 1985). The good student must not rely on “study drugs” as these are associated with addiction, panic reactions, confusion, and medical complications including heart attack and stroke (Steve Sussman and colleagues, 2006).

Habit No 1: Apply book learning to daily life

Those who learn rapidly apply their imagination freely to their studies. They see that every subject of study deals with something vital in the affairs of the world, and probably of personal relevance.
Allow the knowledge you are acquiring to become an active part of your daily life, with some bearing on normal activities. Thinking about studies in this way will help build greater interest and also help you to understand and remember things better.

Habit No 2: Think of the long term reasons for studying

Imagine yourself as the CEO in a multinational company; as an internationally acclaimed designer; as an architect creating the perfect city, as the next software entrepreneur, or picture yourself as the valued management expert. Hold that image in your mind and add some detail to it every day.
Visualising these ultimate goals, will give you fresh energy to keep going, because whatever your dreams; your studies are a necessary step towards achieving them.
Many students don’t know what they want to do after their board or other graduation exams. I’ve found Aptitude Testing to be a great way to get them thinking and motivate them to study. Parents usually get this done after the exams. Aptitude assessment before the exams has the added advantages of motivation for study, as also reducing anxiety related to making career choices.

Habit No 3: Organise your work

Successful study is largely a matter of good organisation.
  • Establish a regular routine. As far as possible study at the same time and place each day. A quiet, well-lit room, free from distractions is best.
  • Work out a daily timetable, to guide your activities. Do not be over ambitious with your timetable. Keep it flexible and do not try to learn more than you can comfortably manage.
  • Begin your major assignments well in advance of the required finishing dates to avoid having to complete them in a rush.

Habit No 4: Follow good study technique

Effective learning habits also minimise test anxiety.
Make notes and underline key sentences. Notes should be brief and to the point. Let notes assist your memory, not replace it.
Concentration is a necessary study habit. Resolve, for instance, to study ten pages without a break and then relax. Break up the learning of a lengthy item into sections, concentrating on each separately.
Start at the appointed time everyday. Do not make excuses – ‘I have to get into the right mood’; ‘I’ll just watch TV for 5 more minutes’. Just plunge into your work.

Habit No 5: Enhance your Memory

Memory depends on association, attention and repetition.
  1. Association can be developed by deliberately setting out to form associations or links with given words or facts.
  2. Attention is necessary for registration in the mind. Attention comes from interest in the subject, exercising the brain on it, and by focusing on one’s work in as much detail as possible.
  3. Interest can be inculcated. The more you know about something, the more interesting it becomes.
  4. Develop understanding. It is easier to remember something that is clearly understood. Aids to understanding include a wide vocabulary, good command of language, wide reading and plenty of discussion.
  5. Repetition helps in fixing memory. It is most effective if interest and understanding are involved.

Habit No 6: Build a positive attitude

Think positively. Do not picture defeat, or failure. Use your imagination to dwell upon the positive aspects of life - happiness, hard work, success, health.
People who succeed in examinations begin by believing that they will succeed. Keep telling yourself you are certain to be successful when you do the required work.
Examinations are designed for the average student to pass and the outstanding student to get a distinction.
What thousands of ordinary people have done, YOU can certainly do.
  1. Barry L. Richardson and Murray Saffran. Effects of a Summer Preview Program of Study Skills and Basic Science Topics on the Academic Performance of Minority Students. J Natl Med Assoc. 1985 June; 77(6): 465–471. PMC
  2. D F Alexander. The effect of study skill training on learning disabled students' retelling of expository material. J Appl Behav Anal. 1985 Fall; 18(3): 263–267. doi: 10.1901/jaba.1985.18-263.PMC
  3. Steve Sussman, Mary Ann Pentz, Donna Spruijt-Metz, and Toby Miller. Misuse of "study drugs:" prevalence, consequences, and implications for policy. Subst Abuse Treat Prev Policy. 2006; 1: 15. Published online 2006 June 9. doi: 10.1186/1747-597X-1-15 PMC.

Teaching, Learning, Aptitude, student