9 Study techniques for a college Student
Often, people mistakenly believe that spending long hours studying is the surest way to become a model student with straight A’s. However, research indicates that highly successful students spend less time studying than their peers, but they do so more efficiently.
To help all students use their study time more effectively, teachers can share research-proven techniques.
If you’re currently studying by repeatedly reading a textbook and hoping to retain the information, you may find yourself stressed because it’s challenging to memorize a vast amount of information in a short time.
As a graduate student, it’s essential to develop effective time management and study techniques that will enable you to retain the most information. Cramming the night before an exam is no longer sufficient in graduate school. Therefore, start the new year with a new strategy by trying some of the study techniques and tips compiled by Lofty Scholars below.
1. Distributed practice
Distributed practice is a study technique in which students spread their study efforts over several short sessions for a particular course. This method differs from massed practice, also known as cramming, where students engage in long study sessions for a given course. Studies have proven that meaningful learning is promoted through distributed practice, while massed practice promotes rote learning.
To benefit the student in the long run, distributed practice should be the preferred method. A student who uses distributed practice throughout their 4-5 year college career will be significantly more advanced than one who uses massed practice. Unfortunately, some college courses promote massed practice by only offering 2-3 exams throughout the semester and little else for assessment. This infrequency of testing also encourages rote learning.
To implement distributed practice, students need motivation and determination. One good way to start is to schedule study times on a week-to-week basis at the beginning of each semester. This involves allocating a 50-minute study session for each course every day from Monday to Saturday, leaving Sunday as an off-day, a catch-up day, or a day for relaxation or family activities.
A flashcard or flash card (also known as an index card) is a card bearing information on both sides, which is intended to be used as an aid in memorization. Each flashcard bears a question on one side and an answer on the other.
Flashcards are often used to memorize vocabulary, historical dates, formulas or any subject matter that can be learned via a question-and-answer format. Flashcards can be virtual (part of a flashcard software), or physical.
Flashcards are an application of the testing effect − the finding that long-term memory is increased when some of the learning period is devoted to retrieving the information through testing with proper feedback. Study habits affect the rate at which a flashcard-user learns, and proper spacing of flashcards has been proven to accelerate learning. A number of spaced repetition software programs exist which take advantage of this principle.
3. Information retrieval
Retrieval practice involves recalling information that you learned previously from memory and thinking about it in the present. In other words, a while after reading a book or hearing information in class, you need to retrieve it. The word “after” is crucial because you need to forget the information a little to make retrieval effective. It’s not enough to simply recite what you learned; you must bring the information to mind on your own, especially when it becomes more challenging to remember.
Retrieving information makes it more easily retrievable later. Compared to merely studying by reviewing notes, retrieval practice increases the likelihood of remembering and applying the information in new situations. But, how can you practice retrieval? There are various ways to implement the general process.
If your teacher provides practice tests or your textbook includes practice questions, make sure to attempt them without looking at your book or notes. If there aren’t practice questions available, create your own questions. You can do this by yourself or with a study group. Another option is to create flashcards, but make sure to use them for retrieval practice, not just for peeking. You can also write everything you know about a topic on paper or sketch what you remember.
Finally, you can organize your ideas into a concept map. After retrieval practice, double-check your book or notes to ensure that you retrieved the information correctly and completely. This process corrects misunderstandings and provides feedback on what you know and what you don’t. Finally, try retrieving the same information again later to see how much easier it becomes with practice.
Recitation involves repeating something from memory, usually for formal purposes. In a classroom setting, students may recite in front of the whole class to demonstrate their knowledge about a topic. Recitation can take different forms, such as when teachers ask a student to speak on a topic and correct any mistakes they make.
The application of recitation is to help students use the information they have learned in lectures. By reciting what they have understood or learned about a specific topic, students can solidify their understanding and improve their ability to communicate their knowledge to others. Recitation is a beneficial practice for all students as it helps to improve their comprehension and retention of information.
5. Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique, developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s, is a time management method that breaks work into intervals separated by short breaks, typically 25 minutes long. Each interval is referred to as a pomodoro, which is Italian for tomato, after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer Cirillo used as a student.
The method has gained popularity through apps and websites offering timers and instructions. It is closely related to other concepts used in software design, such as timeboxing, iterative and incremental development, and is commonly used in pair programming contexts.
The creator and his supporters advocate for a low-tech approach, which involves using a mechanical timer, paper, and pencil. The physical act of winding the timer signifies the user’s commitment to begin the task, while the ticking sound externalizes their desire to complete the task. When the timer rings, it announces a break, which helps the user to achieve flow and focus.
The technique has inspired numerous software applications for various platforms.
A mind map is a graphic representation of ideas and concepts, serving as a visual thinking tool that aids in organizing information. By structuring information in a non-linear fashion, a mind map helps individuals analyze, comprehend, synthesize, recall and generate new ideas. The simplicity of the mind map contributes to its power, much like every great idea.
In contrast to traditional note-taking or linear text, a mind map more closely mirrors the workings of the brain. Since creating a mind map requires both analytical and artistic skills, it engages the brain in a more extensive manner, thereby supporting all cognitive functions. The best part is that it’s enjoyable!
7. Feynman Technique
The Feynman Technique is a learning method that can unlock your potential and help you develop a profound understanding of a topic. Richard Feynman, a Nobel prize-winning physicist, was known for his ability to explain complex concepts in simple language. The Feynman Technique involves four key steps:
Step 1: Choose a concept you want to learn about.
Identify a topic that interests you and write down everything you know about it on a blank sheet of paper. As you learn more, add to your notes in a different color pen.
Step 2: Explain it to a 12-year-old
Try to explain the topic to a 12-year-old using simple words and avoiding jargon. This will help you identify any gaps in your understanding.
Step 3: Reflect, Refine, and Simplify
Review your notes and refine your explanation until it is simple and clear. Repeat this process until you have a solid understanding of the topic.
Step 4: Organize and Review
Share your explanation with someone else to test your understanding. Keep your notes in a binder for future review.
The ability to explain complex concepts in simple terms is a valuable skill. The Feynman Technique can help you develop this skill and avoid being misled by others who use jargon or complicated terms.
8. Interleaving Practice
Interleaving is a learning technique that involves mixing different topics or forms of practice to enhance learning. For instance, while preparing for an exam, a student can use interleaving by practicing different types of questions, rather than focusing on one type of question at a time.
Interleaving is also referred to as mixed practice or varied practice, and it is distinguished from blocked practice, which involves concentrating on a single topic or form of practice at a time.
Interleaving has been shown to enhance learning in various fields, including traditional academic subjects such as history and math, as well as in other areas like music and sports. The term “interleaving effect” is used to describe the psychological phenomenon whereby people learn better when they use interleaving compared to blocked practice.
Because interleaving can be a useful technique, it is worth understanding how to implement it. In this article, you will learn more about interleaving and how to use it to improve your own learning or when teaching others.
9. Paraphrasing And Reflecting
Paraphrasing involves rephrasing someone else’s idea or your own previously published idea using your own words. The purpose of paraphrasing is to summarize and combine information from multiple sources, focus on important details, and compare and contrast relevant information.
Reflecting feelings is a technique used by therapists or counselors to highlight and clarify the emotions and attitudes that a client is expressing. It involves making a statement that mirrors the client’s feelings and encourages them to open up further. Reflecting is like holding up a mirror to show that you understand what the client is communicating. This technique can help the client feel heard and understood, as well as become more aware of their own emotions and feelings.