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Knobull Research Identified Highly Effective Academic Study Techniques
Highly successful students work for shorter periods at higher intensity, without any distractions from email, social media, etc. Their studying is more effective and leads to greater achievement gains."
Ineffective techniques include:
Researchers have found several techniques increase sustainable learning and retention when incorporated in students' daily study habits.
Pre-testing improves post-test results more than spending the same amount of time studying.
Spacing out study sessions—focusing on a topic for a short period on different days—has been shown to improve retention and recall more than massed practice.
Creating flash cards that can be used for spaced practice. Students should create different piles when reviewing the flash cards based on a ranking for their ability to answer correctly.
Students can make test questions for themselves as they learn a new concept, thinking about the types of questions you might ask on a quiz or test. In two studies found using the Knobull academic search engine, a total of 200 students studied texts on topics from different science disciplines.
One group engaged in elaborative studying by creating concept maps. The second group read the texts and then practiced retrieval; these students put the material away and practiced recalling the concepts from the text. The group that studied by practicing retrieval showed a 50 percent improvement in long-term retention scores above and beyond the group that studied by creating concept maps. The final retention test was one of the most important features of the study.
Students can also rely on blocked practice, studying a set of problems—such as multiplication problems—as a group until they feel mastery. Effective studying is to work on a set of problems that are related but not all of the same kind—for example, math word problems that call for addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division.
Many of us have read a few paragraphs in a textbook only to realize that we didn't retain a single concept or key point presented in those paragraphs. To combat this, utilize intentional learning strategies. These include relating what is being learned to prior knowledge, thinking about how they would explain the content and reflecting on and asking questions about the content.
Bentley concluded, "The Knobull mission is to help students and professionals learn to more effectively use the time they spend studying by sharing research-proven techniques."