Why is having a choice of good studying strategies important in our school years? It's because the idea of studying is black or white for most students. They either love it or they despise it. When we’re in school, we have to study if we want to make forward progress. When trying to make studying engaging and productive, having a list of interesting studying strategies can help.
But could they actually want to study if they found ways to make the process inviting? You bet they could.
Effective studying strategies that make the process enjoyable are a necessity for students.
They keep them from getting bored and discouraged.
Studying can become an appealing and proactive experience for students. You can share the following studying strategies and tips as suggestions to help make that happen for all students.
1. Link to the Real World
Our digital natives are looking for real-world connections to learning. They want to know how what we’re teaching can be applied to real life. They want to know how it can benefit them beyond school. This is probably one of the best perspectives you can impart to students.
Find ways to connect your content to real-life experiences and situations. Project-based learning activities are some of the best ways to make this happen. Our PBL Ideas Book can help you with developing great real-world connections in modern classrooms.
2. Encourage Group Communication
Ask students what they want to accomplish with their study time and how they plan to go about it. Ask them to be open and honest about the challenges they face and provide a supportive atmosphere.
Many of them will have their own studying strategies that they've had success with. These are ideas they can impart to others who are struggling. Let them know that you’re all learning together.
3. Find Out How They Learn Best
Get students to tell you what the best ways are for them to absorb content. Get to know what your kids are doing to maximize the benefits of study time. You’ll likely get a bunch of different answers from them. Once you know, you can coax them gently towards developing new approaches. Encourage them to combine their own study methods with ones they may not have tried. Some approaches include:
- Positive visualization—Have them use motivational mantras or messages
- Proactive thinking—Instead of saying “I don’t get this,” have them ask themselves “how can I get this?” Guide them to challenge themselves and develop independent thinking processes.
- Stressing individuality—Remind your students that each one of them is unique and special, and they learn and study in their own way. Tell them the truth, which is that they're doing just fine.
- Fostering a team atmosphere—Let students know that they can always feel good about wanting to help each other overcome problems and difficulties in studying and learning.
- Making it a game—Invite your students to use memory games or employ group challenges to reinforce knowledge retention and exercise their brains. These memory improvement hacks from Examtime.com are terrific.
- Taking frequent breaks—The mind is a muscle in itself. It works hard and needs to take a breather now and then. Remind studying students to get up, stretch, have some water, share a laugh with their friends, and then get back to business. You can also make use of the Pomodoro technique, and use apps that work with it.
4. Set up a Distraction-Free Zone
Set up study space with as little distraction as possible. That could mean everything from basic cleanliness to studying in absolute silence, and anything and everything in between. Everyone has a different approach and preferences.
Encourage students to only bring what they absolutely need to a study session. Don’t need the iPod, certain books, or other equipment? Leave them behind. Encourage them to challenge the stigma of "needing to have things handy just in case." The psychological benefits can be surprising.
5. Focus on Exploration and Problem Solving
Students love to be challenged. They enjoy knowing there is a relevant reason for learning what they need to learn. Smart studying strategies can include placing web quests and challenging problem-based activities into students' study time. Here are some collaborative activities that can make studying fun:
6. Encourage Milestones
Having goals and a clear idea of the end point is a hallmark of any successful venture. This includes the simple act of studying. Allow students to make a list of tasks for themselves that they can check off as they do their work. There are psychological rewards in completing tasks and visually striking them off. It provides a sense of both organization and accomplishment.
Students that are studying in groups can set a milestone/accountability system in place to help keep each other motivated and on task. Online task managers can help with this. There are lots of simple free online tools that can help. Try Trello, Flow, Conceptboard, or the ever-popular Basecamp.
7. Ask for their Help
That's right, ask them. Get them involved in critically thinking about what you’re teaching by having them explain it in their own words.
Say to them, “How would you explain this? Share your ideas with me.”
Having an interest in what students think and how they would approach a problem or challenge is invaluable. It creates a deep connection to learning. It tests knowledge and retention and lets students know you care. Besides, even teachers get stuck now and then. Your students can help you if you let them. Once again, you’re all here to both teach and learn together. That makes for a great segue into our last point.
8. Have Students Teach Each Other
As far as great studying strategies go, student-as-teacher is one of the most effective and rewarding for the students. According to a study from McGill University, most of us retain knowledge in these capacities. We generally remember:
- 10% of what we read
- 20% of what we hear
- 30% of what we see
- 50% of what we both see and hear
- 70% of what we actively discuss with others
- 80% of what we experience personally
- 95% of what we teach to others
It’s easy to see that the best kind of knowledge retention and understanding can come from students teaching each other in different ways. They can also test each other on what they’ve learned. Along the way, students can get some valuable formative self- and peer-assessment experience.
4 Guidelines for Sharing these Studying Strategies
Be Patient with Them, and Yourself
If certain kids have been study-resistant up until now, don’t expect them to turn over a new leaf overnight. Instead, let them warm up to the concepts and find the ones that engage them best. What about those students who do enjoy the study process? They may discover some new studying strategies that could up their game.
Play on Your Student's Potential
We occasionally assume that students are lazy. Sometimes they either aren't studying or aren't absorbing the content when they do study.
As an educator facing complex modern learners, you know differently.
You know that it's simply that they may not know effective studying strategies. Look at their strengths and accomplishments thus far. Then, using some of the studying strategies you've discovered here, you can expand on what they can do better.
Be Available as the "Guide on the Side" to Answer Questions
Your students will want to know that they can always come to you for a nudge in the right direction. The important thing here is to encourage them to discover the answers themselves as much as you can. Critical thinking skills aren't developed in our students by us handing them the information. Be sure to challenge them proactively.
Say to them often, "That's a good question. Tell me what you think and how you'd go about approaching this."
Your students will hear you and respond.
Treat Students with Dignity and Respect
There is nothing that motivates a student to give their best more than knowing it matters. It's crucial that they realize their efforts, opinions, and work are valuable. Students who feel good about themselves will perform to their highest possible standards and even exceed them. Make a student's mental and emotional well-being your highest priority. The seeds of learning grow best in healthy and nutrient-rich soil.