A Fresh Look at Study Habits for Freshman!

By Denise Seguin

As the first month of school winds down, many first-year students are just settling into a study routine. The start of postsecondary education is a perfect time for students to reflect on study habits used in high school. Which study habits worked well? Which study habits did not lead to successful results? Are there other study strategies worth trying?

Teachers can help first-year students develop successful strategies by giving up a few minutes in class to let students talk about their goals and methods to achieve them. Students benefit from an opportunity to hear classmates’ ideas about how to succeed. Facilitating the discussion lets students know you care about their success. Prompt the flow of ideas by offering these tips to start the discussion:

  • Consider the study environment—do you have a quiet room with a good desk and chair? Is your desk clear of clutter? Is your study area free from distractions?
  • Have study resources at hand so that you don’t waste time looking for them. Examples: Have the textbook and notes handy and make sure you have downloaded content from the learning management system in advance.
  • Set study goals. Example: Review a topic within a day after the material is covered in class, rewrite notes to improve learning and retention, and flag content that is not clear for follow up.
  • Organize content in the way that allows for quick retrieval of information. Example: Use colored tabs, dividers, or post-its to separate or flag content.
  • Reread notes as soon as possible after class to add or delete notes while the lecture is fresh in your mind.
  • Use diagrams, outlines, or any visual aid that lets you “see” connections between concepts.
  • Find out if previous years’ exams or tests are available for you to review and practice.
  • Go over a graded test or assignment when it is handed back to make sure correct answers or other feedback are understood.
  • Know what is covered on each test or assignment as far in advance as possible and develop a plan for chunking the content into manageable units. Example: Review a chapter each day the week before a midterm.
  • Study with a friend or a study group if the interaction is supportive and leads to better comprehension for you.

These are just a few ideas to get students thinking about their study strategies. Encourage students to be proactive and set a study plan now before midterms are upon them.

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