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Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Academics & Research

Faculty recommends study methods for students


study methods

Gerald Sastra/The Cougar

For many students, refining study methods within the first few weeks of classes could be a necessary step to ensuring semester-long success. UH faculty has narrowed down strategies on how to help those looking for a new approach.

Being mindful is key when approaching studying, according to the psychological and learning sciences associate chair for student success Erica Jordan.

“Some students feel as though they are studying really hard based on the amount of time they are looking at the material. However, if they are using an ineffective approach, they might be wasting a considerable amount of that time,” Jordan said. “It is also important to (plan) so that you can choose the most appropriate strategy for the type of material you are learning.”

Here are some evidence-based study methods and strategies that will improve results and significantly cut down on study time.

Interleaving

Although it seems natural for students to dedicate full attention to one topic at a time, research shows that interleaving different topics into one study session improves students’ retention of the material.

Reviewing multiple topics consecutively can help students process similarities and differences between concepts, deepening their understanding.

It can also help students undergo the process of re-learning and retrieving forgotten information, which is helpful for long-term retention.

Spaced practice

Learning in multiple short sessions over a long period of time has shown to be much more effective than long study sessions over shorter periods of time. Spaced repetition not only helps with better retention but also prevents burnout by allowing students to focus on smaller topics.

Students can practice this technique by scheduling study blocks in their weekly schedule dedicated to reviewing a particular subject. When approaching an exam, these study blocks can be lengthened accordingly.

Psychology sophomore Taylor Jackson recommends students to get a planner and be realistic about their schedule.

“I prefer to study by order of my class schedule so everything has its designated day,” Jackson said. “This helps me to not only feel organized but prevents burnout from classwork.”

Active learning 

It’s easy for students to fall into the trap of re-reading and highlighting as a primary study approach, however, Jordan recommends students engage with the material in unique ways to improve understanding.

Jordan also recommends students explain concepts in their own words like they would to someone else and compare it to other concepts they have heard before.

Then Jordan suggests students think about how this concept relates to a real-life experience.

“All of these strategies can assist you in forming more robust memories about the information,” Jordan said.

Feynman Technique

World-renowned physicist Richard Feynman developed a simple way to internalize the material. He described studying as a four-step process

The first step is to learn by gathering as much information as possible on the topic. The next step is to teach in order to help reinforce understanding and recognize any gaps. The third step is to fill the gaps through research or by asking questions. The last step is to simplify the material by cutting away unnecessary details.

“I find the Feynman Technique works best for me because it’s more interactive than just memorizing the material and also allows me to socialize while studying,” Jackson said. “This method helps me to focus and also see what I loosely understand and the concepts that I have mastered.”

Pomodoro Method

The Pomodoro Method is an effective time management tool that can be used in combination with any of the above techniques.  

The method suggests students engage in focused work for 25-minute intervals, broken up by 5-minute breaks. The goal is to limit distractions while also preventing burnout.  

Jordan recommends this method to help break up large projects. 

No matter which study methods are chosen, arts and psychology senior Rimshaa Markhiani said it’s all about finding what suits you best and the environment you put yourself in.

“My advice to other students would be to find a studying method that works for you and to surround yourself with other students studying as that can help anyone get in the right mindset,” Markhiani said. “When you see other students working hard, it’s tough to slack off and do nothing so it helps hold you accountable.” 

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