8 Research backed tips for more effective studying

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Psychologists have recently come to the conclusion that your kids' studying habits may be highly ineffective! Learn new techniques for better studying here!

Henry Roediger and Mark McDaniel of the Washington University in St. Louis recently came to a bold and rather alarming conclusion: the methods kids are using to study are ineffective.

The two psychologists--who together, have a combined 80 years of experience studying the ins and outs of learning and memory--just a recently had their findings popularized in mainstream media a la Peter Brown's book Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning.

So what method of studying do these experts in the field specifically detest? Re-reading; which they claim to be a terrible way to learn material.

Students often skim over, and review textbooks and notes by re-reading them as a form memorizing and learning the information. However, Roediger and McDaniel's research, both in lab experiments and of actual students in classes, find this to be highly ineffective. As they claim, using active learning strategies — like flashcards, diagramming, and quizzing yourself — is much more effective, as is spacing out studying over time and mixing different topics together.

In fact, they recently shared 8 much more effective strategies that kids can easily implement that will  improve their study skills:

1. Don't rely solely on re-reading your notes and materials

Roediger and McDaniel: "We know from surveys that a majority of students, when they study, they typically re-read assignments and notes. Most students say this is their number one go-to strategy.

"We know, however, from a lot of research, that this kind of repetitive recycling of information is not an especially good way to learn or create more permanent memories. Our studies of Washington University students, for instance, show that when they re-read a textbook chapter, they have absolutely no improvement in learning over those who just read it once.

"On your first reading of something, you extract a lot of understanding. But when you do the second reading, you read with a sense of 'I know this, I know this.' So basically, you're not processing it deeply, or picking more out of it. Often, the re-reading is cursory — and it's insidious, because this gives you the illusion that you know the material very well, when in fact there are gaps."

More Effective Studying

2. Ask yourself LOTS of questions

Roediger and McDaniel: "One good technique to use instead is to read once, then quiz yourself, either using questions at the back of a textbook chapter, or making up your own questions. Retrieving that information is what actually produces more robust learning and memory.

"And even when you can't retrieve it — when you get the questions wrong — it gives you an accurate diagnostic on what you don't know, and this tells you what you should go back and study. This helps guide your studying more effectively.

"Asking questions also helps you understand more deeply. Say you're learning about world history, and how ancient Rome and Greece were trading partners. Stop and ask yourself whythey became trading partners. Why did they become shipbuilders, and learn to navigate the seas? It doesn't always have to be why — you can ask how, or what.

"In asking these questions, you're trying to explain, and in doing this, you create a better understanding, which leads to better memory and learning. So instead of just reading and skimming, stop and ask yourself things to make yourself understand the material."

3. Relate new info to something you already know

Roediger and McDaniel: "Another strategy is, during a second reading, to try relating the principles in the text to something you already know about. Relate new information to prior information for better learning.

"One example is if you were learning about how the neuron transmits electricity. One of the things we know if that if you have a fatty sheath surround the neuron, called a myelin sheath, it helps the neuron transmit electricity more quickly.

"So you could liken this, say, to water running through a hose. The water runs quickly through it, but if you puncture the hose, it's going to leak, and you won't get the same flow. And that's essentially what happens when we age — the myelin sheaths break down, and transmissions become slower."


Find out how you can help your kids improve their study habits with help from experts! Click next for more!

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