I. Definition of Training Piece
By the end of this module, you will be able to identify the overall process of studying and understand the steps in a successful studying process. You will be able to help students see the whole studying picture as well as the individual steps. You will learn a note taking strategy that follows this model, and be able to show students how to apply the model to a concrete task. This model and note-taking strategy can be easily shared with students in any academic subject.
A. Definition of Concept and Theory
Flippo and Caverly (2000) recommend that "Rather than just teaching specific strategies, teaching students about the processes that underlie the strategy use is more worthwhile"(p. 94). The purpose of this module is to provide a basis for coaching students in study process by presenting a model that can be used with any subject matter. Threaded through this process is a note taking strategy, which applies the stages of the How to Study Model through rehearsal and feedback to assessment. This provides a schema that helps students tie all the pieces together instead of seeing each step as an isolated unit.
The How to Study Model
Note that the beginning of this model says "Class," but it could also include reading the textbook before class, homework, projects and discussions outside of class with other students. But as a starting point, most students will say that you have to go to class, and just as the first day of class begins fresh, so this model starts with class at the beginning. Also, most instructors would agree that learning is the outcome; students on the other hand see tests as the outcome. So to set the studying process in a practical context, tests has been used as the end product of the How to Study Model. You may substitute assessment, understanding, learning, application, or evaluation in this category. The most important elements are the interim steps. Students frequently go directly from short-term memory to tests without understanding that there are interim steps. And the most frequently skipped step is long term memory retrieval. For most students this is something that is only practiced for the first time during the test, not before.
Note taking StrategyThe Cornell Note taking strategy developed by Walter Pauk at Cornell University provides a framework for taking notes that is part of the whole How to Study Model.
|2.5 inch margin||6 inches here to take notes.|
B. Summary of Relevant Research
Cognitive psychologists have long established a short-term to long-term memory model. However, students learning to learn are not often exposed to this model in the context of classroom learning. Wilhite in Self-concept of academic ability, self-assessment of memory ability, academic aptitude, and study activities as predictors of college course achievement, (1992) suggests instructors can help students by demonstrating strategies that can facilitate achievements. Using the research in the area of memory and applying it to studying and learning in such a way as students begin to see the relevance of theory to application will help both the instructors and the students understand the process and benefits of learning to learn.
By learning about the whole how to study cycle and communicating this to students, both you and your students will have a common ground to move the learning forward. Instead of each person seeing only one piece of the puzzle, you and the students will begin to see how all the pieces are parts of the whole and how all have to work together for the common goal of learning. Students will begin to see how the lecture, the notes and the readings all combine in the learning process. Then when there is a break down in the learning process, it will be easier to isolate the problem areas because both instructors and students have a common model to work from. For example, when a student says "I knew the information yesterday but forgot it for the test today," you may ask if they practiced long-term memory retrieval. Maybe this was material that they learned three weeks ago and they knew it then, but they hadn't practiced getting it back from their long-term memory. For other students, it may be that they read and reread their textbook and their notes, but they didn't have any feedback, any quizzing. In this case, they are rehearsing without feedback.
Most students do not know what happens when they study. Either they get good grades or they don't. In either case, they have few strategies to employ or build on when they meet a difficult subject or a hard course. In some cases, the previously successful students are at a greater disadvantage because "learning" always came easily. Now that they are not doing as well, they don't know what to do and oftentimes become frustrated and angry. By identifying the steps in the study skills process, they now have a process that they can work through and see where the learning is breaking down. This provides a focus for the students who in the past had a shotgun approach to learning, trying everything and anything, just hoping that something would work. By having a schema, they can identify what is working and what is not working and have a starting place to improve their study skills from beginning through fruition.
A. Exploration Exercises for Instructor
Review the How to Study Model and determine where your teaching fits into this model. For some it will be just at the beginning and the end of the model.
Choose a topic that you will teach with which students typically have difficulty. Review the How to Study Model. Design some interim activities between class and the test to help students utilize the how to study process. Use the information below to assist you:
B. Student Exercises
Have the class build a how to study model. Do not pass out the model outlined in this module until the end of the exercise. The goal is for the students to build on previous experiences to emphasize what has worked and to frame it in the overall model.
With the model in mind, fill in the student input on the blackboard. Leave space at the top to overlay the how to study model as a guide to student input.
Once you have gathered all the input that students can give (don't be discouraged if it is very minimal), hand out the model and have them help label the various parts of the model that they did identify.
Have them walk through the model and identify pieces that they do not typically do. Discuss the process with them and together work on the learning process.
For example, there may be review questions at the end of the chapter in the textbook. This is a good way to provide rehearsal and feedback. Students may be encouraged to do the review questions and check their answers if provided in the textbook. The teacher may decide to use one of the review questions at the beginning of the class to reinforce rehearsal and feedback. Students may decide to make up their own textbook question and bring it to class either to clarify a point or to quiz other students.
Step 1. Explain the Cornell Note taking system to the students.
Step 2. Have students take notes on your lecture in Cornell style.
Step 3. Have students write test questions after class in the left-hand column
Step 4. Then you can create test questions on the lecture.
Step 5. Next class give "open notes" quiz where students are allowed to use their notes.
Step 6. Have the student's star the questions that they created which match the teacher created questions.
Step 7. Review the whole process, so students can see how lecture notes fit into the test taking process.
C. Skill Connections
V. Frequently Asked Questions
Q: I have so much material to cover, how can I ever take time to do study
skills as well?
A: Working with students on the studying process will actually save time in the long run. This means you will not have to spend as much time reviewing for tests and debriefing tests, since students will be able to study for them better once they know the process. Although this may take a little more time up front, it is a one time only item. The successful process is just repeated over and over again. Students will be able to build upon their successes because they understand the underlying process of how studying works.
Q: Don't students already know how to take notes?
A: Many students think that note taking is a process of outlining the lectures. Yet so few instructors lecture in outline format. So while students concentrate on this format, they often forget what the notes are for. They don't tie note taking into the whole process of studying. Once they can see the whole process, then even those students who take poor notes have a way of checking their notes and improving upon them because now they have a purpose for taking notes.
Q: Isn't studying just reading the textbook and reviewing the notes?
A: While these are certainly elements in the studying process, students need to know what "reviewing" means. Reviewing does not mean rereading the notes. It means quizzing yourself and checking to see if you know the material and if you don't know the material, going back through the process. Once the students have the how to study schema, they can see how the pieces fit together and where things go wrong in the studying process.
VI. Helpful ResourcesFlippo, Rona F. and David C. Caverly. Handbook of College Reading and Study Strategy Research. (2000)Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Arlbaum Associates, Inc..
This web site provides more information on notetaking
www.facultytraining.com to attend a workshop on this topic or bring one to your campus, visit this site or call Faculty Training at (800) 856-5727.