According to a report from the National Center for Education Statistics, 66 percent of students leave college for non-financial reasons, despite the staggering costs.
Daniel Willingham, a cognitive scientist and professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, suggests that “most students have never been taught how to study and the strategies they devise on their own don’t work.” His research over the last 15 years has focused on education and how cognitive science can influence how we teach and how students learn.
How many students have you encountered who only reread their notes or highlighted passages to study for a big test? Often students repeat the information without absorbing the facts.
High school is the perfect time to revisit study skills with students and provide some tactics for students to get the most out of study time.
- Flash cards are a tried and true study aid. The creation of flash cards by identifying key terms as well as studying with flash cards to provide a single cue for a larger concept are skills that will aid students.
- Studying multiple days in advance of the test aids retention. Cramming the night before the test or studying in marathon sessions are not effective.
- Many students overestimate their understanding of the material, often called “illusion of knowing.” To combat this, students should try delayed judgement: wait at least one hour after studying to take a practice quiz. As they take the quiz, students should consider whether they know the material based on the question alone (without looking at multiple choice answers). Once they’ve answered the question, students should judge whether they would get the answer correct on a test.
- Provide direct and explicit instruction on reading comprehension strategies. Reading comprehension is important across subjects, and studies show that teaching multiple reading comprehension strategies is more effective than teaching students to rely on one. Provide exercises that teach students a combination of strategies, such as summarizing, making connections between new text and previous knowledge, and identifying the main idea.
- Encourage students to identify the ways they learn best. Some students can read a paragraph of text and absorb the information (reading comprehension helps with this), but others may find watching a video, looking at charts and graphs, or listening to a lecture are more effective. A great study tactic is to translate material into the way the study learns best, such as writing a summary of content, drawing a graph, or talking about the subject with a friend.