College is partly about learning how to learn. Students have to figure out which study techniques work best for them. There are a few ways that educators can help with the process.
Expose students to different learning methods. A student who learns best using mind mapping, for example, needs to know the technique exists before he or she can benefit from it. Professors for introductory-level courses should create assignments that emphasize a variety of learning methods so students can discover early in the education process which ones are most effective for them. Remediation programs at any level can help students experiment with different learning methods as well. In addition, academic libraries can be equipped with tools and resources that help students develop new and better research habits.
Be careful about pacing. Kent State University analyzed the effectiveness of 10 common study techniques to see which ones made the biggest difference. There were two clear winners: practice testing and pacing. Unsurprisingly, staying up all night to cram for exams does not produce the best results. Professors can help in this area by creating assignments that encourage students to work and study consistently throughout the semester.
Make use of embedded assessment. Just the act of taking a practice test can add to retention and learning, but if students can get detailed feedback from every test they take, the benefit increases significantly. Regular tests throughout the semester don’t just give faculty a chance to see how students are doing; they can give students greater insight into what is and isn’t working for them. In addition, embedded assessment allows you to turn tests and quizzes into valuable data that shows students exactly where their strengths, weaknesses, and gaps in knowledge are. That information can be easily leveraged so students can develop better and more efficient study habits.
Ultimately, students who gain a clear understanding of how they learn and work best will have a better chance of succeeding in college and after graduation.