Study Notes for Students | Your Key to Effective Studying

Using Different Styles of Study

Different courses are organized differently and are taught in different manners or styles in order to accommodate the material being presented. You want to make sure that you are approaching your study of each course in a manner that relates with how the course is organized and taught. For example, it will probably not profit you much to spend the bulk of your time memorizing definitions if the emphasis of the course and the class lectures and readings has to do with applying different theories to different social situations and anticipating their differing effects. Here are some ideas to think about:

  1. Learning definitions or concepts: Commit these to memory by using key words as memory cues and practice saying these definitions out loud to yourself, both in the way the text defines them and in your own words. Flash cards are great for this, as well.
  2. Comparing and Contrasting: When you are asked to compare and contrast different time periods or theories try making charts summarizing their differences and then practice stating these out loud to yourself.
  3. Comparing different views or perspectives: If you are required to know, for instance, differing political viewpoints on several issues, you can use the same kind of charting summary to help you become conversant in what each view holds to be true, how they differ and why and how one view may be more reasonable that the others. Again, don't forget the value of Flash Cards here.
  4. Vocabulary: Assuming you are studying conflicting theories, you will need to learn which terms are related to which theories, how the text defines each theory, how you would define the same terms using examples, how the theories differ from one another and the details that make them different. Making summary charts can help you with this process as well. And so can, well, you guessed it...Flash Cards.

These kinds of techniques can help you gain understanding while aiding recall. You may consider yourself as one that has a "bad" memory. Many students would classify themselves in this manner without realizing that their situation relates not so much with brain function as with the manner in which they choose to study. They just don't put into use the kinds of strategies necessary to provide them with long-term recall and understanding of the course work. So: Commit to get understanding. Try some of these techniques as you study. Be a better student.

Last Updated: 08/20/2013


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