Getting Scientific About Study Techniques

I’ve written in the past about the ways in which I believe education systems have fundamentally failed many learners because educators have been so intently focused on the ‘stuff’/ the content to be learned that they have paid scant regard to process – the how of learning. Students, left to figure out the ‘how’ for themselves play a game of ‘follow my leader’ perpetuating the bad study habits of their elders – like the blind leading the blind! Too many students (me included, when younger), have wasted far too much time doing things that were at best unproductive and sometimes outright detrimental to effective learning. When we want to find the reasons why so many students lack motivation for studying. I believe we may not need to look too far.

As a result, I am always happy when I find material that shares information related to genuine scientific studies to determine what really does or does not work when it comes to study methodologies. This article from Time magazine gives some useful information on some common methods, not least putting the hard evidence about the weakness of highlighting as a method. This is one I find so frustrating when I think of the enormous numbers of hours frittered away doing this myself. I watched a student doing it for nearly 2 hours on a flight recently – what waste.

Time Magazine Article

Fellow educators, I ask you – is the ‘stuff’ that you teach so uniquely important to the exception of all else that you have no time to enable students to engage more effectively with that very same ‘stuff’? Even when that better engagement would lead to better learning? I can’t see the sense. We have to care so much more about ‘process’ of learning – otherwise I will assume you only care about teaching, not learning!

Here’s the link to the original academic paper: Applying Cognitive Psychology to Education: Translational Educational Science




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