Study Smarter, Not Harder

Study Smarter, Not Harder:
Strategies for Successful Learning
Dr. Jackie Bortiatynski and Dr. Josh Wede
When preparing for an exam, do you:
• Re-read the text?
• Re-read your notes?
• Re-write them?
• Make flashcards?
What is the most important factor in
successful learning?
1) Learning in a way that matches your own learning
2) The amount of time you spend studying
3) What you think about while studying
4) The intention to learn the material
5) Paying close attention to the material as you study
• Read the instructions for the demonstration to
yourselves and do your best to follow them.
Study Conditions
Shallow Processing
‘E or G’
Deep Processing
Which ones are effective?
• Re-read the text?
• Re-read your notes?
• Re-write them?
• Use flashcards?
Types of Processing (Studying)
• Maintenance (Rote) Rehearsal
• Repeating information to keep in working memory
• Memorization of facts
• Once stop – generally goes away
• Elaborative (Deep) Rehearsal
• Transfer info from STM to LTM by making info
• Relating info to prior knowledge
• Leads to much stronger LTM
Strategies for Deep Processing
• Generating questions
• Practicing recall and application
• Compare and contrast
• Constructing concept maps
Question Generation
• Generate at least three questions over each lecture or
each topic you read about
• Aim for higher order questions
• How, Why, What if…
• Getting answers can help, but even asking the
questions aids learning
Practicing Recall and Application
• Teach it to a classmate or friend (even a stuffed
animal) in your own words
• Apply concepts to a novel situation
• Try to answer questions about the material from the
book or from other sources
Compare and Contrast
How are concepts similar?
How are they different?
Find connections with previous learning
Helps on multiple choice questions
Generating Concept Maps
• A concept map is a graphical, hierarchical,
representation of knowledge.
• Highlights the relationships and distinctions among
concepts using nodes and links
• The value is in the effort and reflection as much as the
map itself (deep processing)
• Look at your syllabus and use the course goals as your
initial concepts and then work your way out using the
course learning objectives. If these concepts are not
readily available go to office hours and ask the instructor to
provide this information. As the semester proceeds
continue to annotate the concept boxes with the date of the
lecture when they are discussed.
• Generate smaller maps that summarize a unit or a weeks
worth of material. What were the concepts presented and
how do they relate to each other?
• When studying dissect the practice exams, look for the
concepts in your map. Place a note by each problem
indicating what part of the map they match.
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Concept Maps: are a graphical representation of your knowledge.
Here are some vital points to keep in mind:
Construct a concept map with reference to some particular question you want to answer so that
there is some situation or event that you are trying to understand through the organization of
concepts, items processes.
STEM concept maps are represented in a hierarchical fashion with the most inclusive, the most
general concepts at the top of the map and the more specific, less general concepts arranged
hierarchically below
The concepts are connected using cross-links. The cross links should graphically represent the
relationships or links between concepts in different segments or domains of the concept map.
The links should be labeled.
A helpful feature in a concept map is to include specific examples of events or objects that help
to clarify organization of this graphical representation
How do I know if I am ready to take the exam???
Ask yourself the following questions:
1. What are the learning objectives for the material that will be covered in the test?
2. Can I create a concept map or representation that will demonstrate how these
objectives are connected to specific concepts covered in the readings, lectures
and homework?
3. Have I taken a practice test under realistic testing conditions (no books open and
4. If practice exams are supplied have I dissected one of the exams?
To dissect an exam look at each question through the eyes of the instructor and ask,
“What concept(s) are being tested and why is it important?”
5. Have I addressed all my questions regarding the material to be covered on the
Creating Good Learning Habits:
Study Sessions
1) Set a Goal (1-2 min)
• Decide what you want to accomplish in your study session
2) Study with Focus (30-50 min)
• Eliminate all distractions and temptations
• Use deep processing
3) Reward Yourself (5 min)
• Take a break– call a friend, play a short game, get a snack
4) Review (5 min)
• Go over what you just studied
• Recall without looking
How good are you at multitasking?
• Countdown from 10 to 0 out loud as quickly as you can
• Say the alphabet from A to K out loud as quickly as you
• Now alternate the two: Start with 10 – A, and count down
with numbers and up with letters, out loud as fast as you
can, (10-A, 9-B, etc.)
Exam Wrappers
A short exercise that helps you reflect on your performance.
It contains at least 3 sections:
1. What did I do to prepare for the exam? (be honest!)
2. How did I do on my exam?
3. What will you do differently next time?
Things you can do
• Generate questions (deep)
• Teach to someone else
• Compare/contrast concepts
• Create concept maps
• Simulate exams (practice questions)
• Remove distractions when studying
Video Series: How to Get the Most Out
of Studying