Study Skills: It’s not about time, luck & favouritism

I found that in teaching middle grades, my students believe that they have excellent study skills because of how much time they spent in front of their book.  I recall, just before writing a test on a complete unit of study, a student exclaimed “Miss! I spent a whole 15 minutes studying for this!  I am totally ready!”  Her conviction was palpable but she could not be more incorrect.   On top of this type of belief, students often think that Lady Luck will help them through, and that us teachers will give them good grades because we like them.  This is obviously a recipe for failure, or just skimming by.  This also breaks their self esteem when students believe they have done all that they can to prepare and still do not do well.

The best way that I have tried to sway students from this is to suggest studying in different ways.   Furthermore, if they can utilize the methods that address their individual learning style then all the better!  At the beginning of the year, I prepare a chart for my students, which lists different ways of studying.  Throughout my lessons, I try to incorporate as many of these strategies to model the process. 

This is my initial list, I then allow students to think of different ways that they study.  You will be surprised at some of their methods. 

  •   Practice with flashcards
  •   Ask someone to quiz you
  •   Read
  • Reread
  • Highlight your notes in your book
  •   Summarize your notes on another paper
  •   Read your notes
  •   Read your notes aloud
  •   Organize your papers so you are working with everything you need                                                                
  •   Outline or make a graphic version of written work (lists, columns, Venn diagrams, etc.)
  •   Create a project/model  based
  •   Quiz yourself
  •   Write memory work over and over until you feel confident
  •   Use a worksheet as a quiz by covering over the answers and re-doing it
  •   Look over old quizzes and try to figure out why you’re making mistakes, redo the quiz
  •   Look over the returned assignments for the unit;
  •   Answer study guide questions;
  •   Tell someone else what the topic is about  create a crib sheet
  •   Translate the information into another language you know


I find this list helps students realize that there are different strategies to use.  Students tend to be more conscientious in how they study once you have discussed it and modelled it for them.

Do you use any of these?  What strategy do you use to help your students learn how to study?

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