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Helping students get more out of studying

Consider this a companion post to a message sent out just this morning my colleague Peg. Peg brought to our attention a blog post by Maryellen Weimer on the topic of helping students study effectively for final exams. There’s some great student-focused advice in that post. Reading it jogged my memory and prompted me to track down a series of YouTube videos by Professor Stephen Chew of Samford University (Alabama) that I first encountered several years ago. Chew is a psychologist who studies how people learn, and in his videos he uses some core principles of educational psychology and cognitive science to help students understand how to study and learn more effectively.

What are some of those principles?

“Deep processing,” for one — the term Chew and other researchers use to discuss how new information can be integrated into existing knowledge structures so that it is retained, understood, and ultimately can be applied or transferred to new situations.

In the video below, for instance, Chew discusses some practical ways to engage in studying as a form of “deep processing” — rather than an exercise in rote memorization and review, which is how many students have learned to study.

Chew covers a lot of ground in this video and the others in the series, discussing a range of studying ideas including :

  • Question generation
  • Concept maps
  • Note-taking strategies
  • Study groups

I’ve known a number of faculty to share some or all of these videos with their students at various points during a course. Like Maryellen Weimer’s memo to students, the videos can stimulate an important conversation about practices students can develop in order to cultivate more effective study habits.

All of the videos in the series are worth watching when you have the time, but the final one, “I Blew the Exam, Now What?” is also worth sharing with students.

Do you talk to your students about effective techniques for studying? Do you have favorites videos, readings, or methods that you share? Add your ideas in the comments!

[Edited 3/13/2017: Typo and link correction.]

Featured image: Studying by Steven S. licensed under Creative Commons BY 2.0