A Teacher-Librarian's Tips on Effective Learning
WHY SHOULD I STUDY?
- We study to find and learn important information, and to understand how new know-ledge fits into what we already know.
- We also study to remember. For most of us, the memory needs constant review since 50% of what we learn is forgotten within 20 minutes. The next 25% is forgotten within 24 hours. The next 13% is forgotten within one week. Most of the rest is forgotten within one month.
- Effective study has many benefits:
- we can improve our memory, our knowledge and our grades;
- we can spend our time more productively and efficiently;
- we can increase our success in school and future endeavors;
- we can feel positive about ourselves and our abilities;
- we can improve our attitudes towards school and life.
WHERE AND WHEN SHOULD I STUDY?
- Settle on one PLACE that has
- good light, temperature and ventilation;
- a desk and firm chair (not the bed!)
- few interruptions and distractions.
Organize your TIME by
- making a realistic weekly schedule;
- adjusting your schedule for times missed and deadlines;
- re-assessing your schedule at week's end and sticking to it;
- taking short and regular breaks away from the study area;
- avoiding day-dreaming and procrastination.
Make a PLAN by
- constantly reminding yourself of your long-term goals;
- making sure you understand an assignment before leaving class;
- working ahead to increase understanding and pleasure;
- doing chores and asking friends to phone before you regularly set homework time.
HOW DO I STUDY ON A DAY-TO-DAY BASIS?
- Gather everything you need at the start and study till break time.
- Review on both a daily and a weekly basis to reinforce your memory; you'll find you'll process new information more easily.
- Avoid merely rereading your text and notes. This is a major misunderstanding among most students. You must test yourself to prove you understand and can communicate the information.
- Use memory aids such as flash cards, lists, charts and diagrams. (See SPECIAL TIPS below).
- Make your knowledge a part of your experience; discuss it, use it and re-use it.
ARE THERE ANY SPECIAL TIPS THAT REALLY WORK?
- Turn breaks and snacks into a reward system for studying well.
- Form a study group : divide up work, share ideas and test each other.
- Use flash cards : on a 3" by 5" card put the question or topic on one side and the answer or data on the other. Go through the deck discarding the cards you know, until you know every card. Carry the deck with you as a portable "notebook" to review in spare moments, on the subway etc.
- Use lists, charts, and diagrams : after reading your notes or textbook, see if you can put the information in a new way; now reproduce these without looking.
- Listening to music seems to help some students; however, some studies show that slow, even rhythms of instrumental music may work best.
HOW SHOULD I PREPARE FOR TESTS AND EXAMS?
- Review the main points from your notes before you return to review details; prepare short summaries, perhaps on index cards.
- Make a schedule early on a calendar to review a section each night to avoid cramming.
- Find out from the teacher the nature of the test or exam : e.g.. multiple choice or essay type, areas to be emphasized, marking scheme and weight.
- Ask yourself questions about the main topics covered during the term.
- When the examination period comes, be well rested, maintain good nutrition, and remain as calm and self-confident as possible.
- Walk to an exam alone and stay away from negative talk.
HOW SHOULD I WRITE TESTS AND EXAMINATIONS?
- In general, for any test or exam:
- read over the entire paper carefully, noting instructions, choices, timing and marking scheme;
- read every question carefully before answering it, to understand the real point of the question.
- plan to use and budget the entire time available, reserving time to go over your answers and to make any necessary changes.
For multiple choice questions:
- think about the answer before you look at the choices;
- consider the alternatives and whether they are logical.
- choose the best answer; if necessary, first eliminate the answers you know are not correct.
For essay type questions:
- do the easiest questions first to build up your confidence;
- on a separate page outline your argument and supporting facts;
- reread your answer for spelling, grammatical and stylistic errors.
WHAT WORDS FOUND IN TESTS AND EXAM QUESTIONS SHOULD I KNOW?
- To ANALYSE : to separate into parts so as to determine the whole.
- To COMPARE : to describe the similarity or relation between things.
- To CONTRAST : to describe the dissimilarity between things.
- To DEFINE : to state the precise meaning of a thing.
- To DISCUSS : to examine a thing by argument or debate.
- To EVALUATE : to examine and judge the value of a thing.
- To EXPLAIN : to make the meaning of a thing clear.
- To ILLUSTRATE : to clarify a thing by using examples and comparisons.
- To OUTLINE : to give the main points about a thing.
- To SUMMARIZE : to restate briefly the substance of a thing.
HOW SHOULD I TAKE NOTES?
- Prepare for class by looking over the textbook in advance.
- Listen actively for the main points and write them down quickly.
- Review your notes as soon as possible.
- Keep your notes in a loose-leaf notebook, but number, date and divide your pages; identifying each page with your name and school prevents loss.
- Add to notes with further information from other sources, such as the library.
- Develop good reading skills:
- get a book's general idea from it's preface and table of contents;
- read for ideas rather than for single words; look for headings, marginal notes and topic sentences to understand the direction that the text is taking you;
- make notes of the important points as you go along; this helps you to remain active, to concentrate and to write a summary.
HOW SHOULD I DO MY HOMEWORK?
- Make sure you understand the requirements of each course and the expectation of the teacher.
- Keep up to date as teachers check homework and evaluate on a continuous basis.
- Do your own work; homework is given to broaden knowledge, to reinforce skills and to foster personal responsibility. To copy someone else's work and pass it off as your own is dishonest and self-defeating.
- Borrow notes only to catch up when you are absent.
- Review study techniques previously outlined, since homework and good study habits go hand in hand.
- Re-assess your ability to achieve success in each course; low marks probably mean it's time to work harder at home.
WHAT CAN I DO TO WRITE BETTER ESSAYS?
- Understand the assignment : its purpose and the scope .
- Choose a topic you are generally interested in and limit the topic and research for success.
- Keep a log of your library research process and follow the steps in order.
- Allow sufficient time for ideas to develop and for the structure and style to mature as you prepare, write and revise.
- When revising, check off the following points:
- [ ] Does my introduction have a thesis, a focus or a stated purpose?
- [ ] Are the parts of my essay arranged effectively?
- [ ] Does the topic sentence of each paragraph relate to my thesis?
- [ ] Do following paragraphs link with previous paragraphs in some way?
- [ ] Does each paragraph develop its topic sentence in particular and the thesis in general?
- [ ] Do I support or illustrate statements I make?
- [ ] Do I use concrete and specific language in a style that is clear, emphatic and coherent?
- [ ] Are my sentences varied in length and structure?
- [ ] Do I come to a strong and relevant conclusion?
HOW SHOULD I DOCUMENT MY ESSAY ?A. FOOTNOTES AND NOTES
- To acknowledge sources, to share new knowledge and to avoid the charge of plagiarism ( the stealing of other peoples' ideas and words) a good writer tells the reader where to find the information used in an essay.
- During the course of the essay, quoted passages and key ideas are noted either in footnotes placed at the bottom of the page, or in notes placed at the end of the essay. Consider a footnote or note as one complete sentence about the author, the title, and publishing data punctuated by commas. Here are the most commonly used forms for a simple book and article.BOOK
1 Timothy McGee, Music in Canada (Markham: Penguin, 1985) p.86.
2 Timothy McGee, "Pop Music in Canada," Rock Express, Jan. 1987, pp. 21-24.
- A bibliography is an alphabetically arranged list of all the sources you have consulted during the preparation of your paper. It is placed at the end of the essay. Its form is like three separate sentences :an author statement; a title statement; a publisher statement.
McGee, Timothy. Music in Canada. Markham: Penguin, 1985.
© 1996 T.A.R.G.E.T.
Last update: Jan 29/96