Too often, conscientious students show up to class thinking that your job is to lay out the perfect plan for them to learn while theirs is simply to glide through it. This can be very frustrating since you will put in your best to design lessons that will help all of your students to master the material, only to record negative results from the students. Did you know that this kind of pressure shouldn’t rest solely on your shoulders? What’s your student’s responsibility in this joint effort? Do they know how to do it themselves?
I am not blind to the fact that the quality and quantity of learning are influenced by different factors like general intelligent quotient, physical and mental health, motivation, interest in a subject, relaxation, teaching and teaching-aid facilities and students’ cognitive capabilities; however, psychologists have observed that the most contributing factor in students’ performance, at least while studying at a university, is general study skills in learning and recalling the lessons studied. Since it is difficult to learn and retain a considerable volume of up-to-date and specialized information the students confront in an academic year, appropriate study skills and habits will go a long way in promoting learning.
Sadly, there are still instructors who feel that teaching study skills has no business in their courses or subjects. They say “This is university, and university students need to figure these things out for themselves. Although this argument holds water, the spoon-feeding-overdependence culture we inculcate in them from elementary levels (where studying is done a day before exams and assignments plagiarized on the morning of the due date) does not exactly prepare them for independence. The truth is that our students need to be taught study skills right from kindergarten such that they can learn how to learn.
That having been said, there are many ways to promote study skills among learners. One of them is teaching the students to break down information into easy-to-digest chunks- setting small goals to learn a little bit at a time. Consider a science teacher that gives the class the task of memorizing the periodic table of the elements. That is an overwhelming task for kids of any age, and some students won’t even try because it is so devastating. However, breaking it down into smaller pieces will make the task of learning the entire set of data more manageable. This is not something students naturally know how to do, so teach them.
Similarly, teach students to make their own study guides. Many students will sit down with their book when it is time to study, read it through and call it good. Unfortunately, as you well know, this does not mean the information has been absorbed. Instead, carve out a little time to teach your students how to make a study guide on their own. This begins with teaching them how to pick out important information from the text or your classroom lecture. Once they can pick out these tidbits, teach them how to write questions that can be used to study. With these tools, your students can quiz themselves, and thus be well prepared for their tests.
Until educators recognize the value of teaching students how to study and energetically support the implementation of a structured study skills program in their schools, most students will continue to be deficient in their study skills development. It is recommended that teaching skills and study habits be presented either as a credit or a workshop in the curriculum of the newly-admitted students so that on their arrival they would get acquainted with these skills which certainly leads to better learning. The provision of studying backgrounds as well as encouraging students to look scientifically into studying approaches could be more effective.
The writer is a Language Consultant