Science Of Small Talk

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"How did you study?" It’s question I often find myself asking college students during office hours when they come by to talk about a disappointing exam score or ask for suggestions for improving future performance. In thinking about this question, it's worth considering what psychological science has to say on the matter... Read More

resistance to change

I found that students were highly resistant to change and few ever incorporate more advanced study methods--even when taking study skills courses or being at risk of failing out of college. I worked with many high achieving students who wanted to go beyond B's, to get into Grad school/med school etc--those were the students who actually ended up using learning strategies.

Re-reading notes over and over again, and highlighting text books truly does seem like the most 'advanced' methods most students use. It's amazing how infrequently students even bother to self-quiz themselves.

Honestly, my years spent in academia left me pretty pessimistic. You have a handful of students who make serious efforts, most spend more time text messaging their peers about nonsense each day than actually studying.

I had a couple pre-med students take the time to learn visual mnemonics, they by far had the most success--and they put in the time required to learn the methods and create large numbers of pegs/journeys. My colleagues would argue with me on occasion about the desire for comprehension being the goal, and memory being some sort of second class rudimentary skill. Yet, the ability to memorize and retain information is the key ingredient for moving up bloom's taxonomy.

Ultimately, I typically would give kids a very simplistic change based on Walter Pauk's 6-r method, and try to get them to change from re-reading, to self-quizzing, since it seemed the idea that more college students would actually consider doing--since most had quizzed themselves with flashcards at some point in their life.

We have a diverse family, including Japanese members. Discussing education and the efforts they put into schooling, compared to what people do in the US is utterly shocking. In some respects it amazes me we still have a decent amount of competent people given how little care and time most students actually put into their schooling. College has become a 'work permit' for most, very few students actually like to learn, a culture based on passive entertainment and fixation on gadgets and an utter disdain for reading books (particularly with males) I think has a lot to do with it. Oh well, its the 21st century, but I guess students never got the message that rote memorization, cramming (vs. distributed learning), not sleeping (horrible for memory consolidation) and highlighting books--are actually good ways to do mediocre in most courses and almost guarantee that whatever they "learned" will be forgotten in days if not weeks.

Could not be more frustrated with the poor study habits of students

I think that people should try using the methods that use different parts of the brain, like how the article suggests in combining different learning methods together. For example, if you are taking an anatomy class and you have to memorize different body regions. Instead of just reading or just looking at a diagram, why not point to that particular region on your own body and say the name of the region outloud while looking at the diagram for point of reference?
I think highlighting can help when you want to reference something or want to elaborate more on a particular point (would never do this in a school text book but have on personally owned magazines); however, I definitely do not think highlighting to pick and choose what is necessary to learn or remember is a wise idea. Too much highlighting or too little tends to be visually distracting and really takes away from reading potentially important information. Plus, if you try to resell your books, why lower its value with all that highlighting and writing if that method is barely effective anyways?

I could not agree more with the other two posters who commented on this article. I find myself very frustrated when other students try to simply memorize the material instead of actually understanding it. Then those same students do poorly on tests or don’t understand the concepts and they wonder why they did so badly on a test or even in a class. I can’t help but laugh to myself when I hear people make such commentary (along with noticing their study habits) because the reason why they did so poorly is quite obvious (at least to me). I have had teachers say straight up “if you try to simply memorize the material instead of actually understanding the material, you WILL fail the course.” With a lot of classes, especially any science or math class, the teacher can definitely make or break the subject for many students just based on their teaching methods (and whether or not they make the subject interesting).

I will say how little people self-quiz in some of my classes is a little horrifying. Admittedly, it gets a little annoying making photo copies of diagrams, editing them to make it so they are blank, etc. yet the extra effort is really worth it. If you take the right attitude when approaching studying, it can actually be pretty fun and will certainly pay off big time in the long run.

It looks like your article

points out the difference between trying to memorize the material, and actually thinking about and understanding it. I remember that being an issue when I was taking classes. The people who wanted it to be easy tried to get away with just memorizing formulas in math, or memorizing sentences in other topics, without actually understanding WHY the formula is what it is, or how you would get to that formula, or why the sentence they're trying to remember is even important.

It looked to me like a combination of student failure plus teaching failure. Most of the math teachers I had through grade school taught us to memorize math, rather than understand it. Possibly they didn't understand it themselves. One thing really stood out: try to tutor someone who is behind your own level. You'll have a far better grasp of the material if you can explain it to someone else.

To better understand what is

To better understand what is at stake and why this video takes us in the wrong direction, I recommend reading Thomas Sowell's excellent book, A Conflict of Visions. Remember, it was the Catholics who stood up to Hitler...not the Marxist socialists.

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Sam Sommers, Ph.D., is a social psychologist at Tufts University and author of the forthcoming book Situations Matter. more...

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