Tue. Mar 5th, 2024

It is 3 a.m. on a brisk October night at West Chester University, and Joe Studant is busily going over class materials for his exam today. He already has revived 100 pages in his text book and still has 50 more to peruse, as well as lecture notes and slides from his professor. Meanwhile, his eyes are growing heavy as fatigue is starting to kick into full gear and his head is beginning to slump forward. With his body tired, his mind weak and the stench of coffee on his breath, Joe begins to wonder if he can draw similarity between his current situation and that of an accused terrorist at Guantanomo Bay.

Although Joe is by no means a real WCU student, his crisis is one that many college kids can identify with during the midterm period of a semester. During this period, students are expected to prepare for exams (sometimes accumulative) in certain classes while at the same time keeping pace in other subjects. With all the stress caused by this period of labor, an important question to ask is “How to study effectively?” in order to grasp material at a pace quick enough to meet other demands. As The Quad discovered, different sources proposed different answers to this question.

Nick DiDonato, the coordinator for math tutoring at the Learning Assistance and Resource Center (LARC), maintained the position that the key to good studying is “knowing what type of learner you are” and using methods of study that correspond accordingly. As a result, he said he felt that there is no one correct way to review material.

“It is true that some things {ways of studying} do work better then others as there is no universal method that will work for everyone in every situation. The most important thing is to go online or ask someone to take a ‘learning styles test’ to figure out what kind of learner you are,” he said.

According to DiDonato, people have an easier time learning through one of four ways: visual textual (learning best through words), visual pictorial (learning best through pictures), audio (learning best through sound) and kinesthetic (learning best through feeling and touch). He advised that those who learn best visually should thoroughly read their notes and text book or organize information in diagram form if they need pictures, and those who learn better through audio should try reciting their notes out load when they review. Kinesthetic learners have a rougher time studying because some subjects don’t have a “hands-on” aspect. For these courses, DiDonato advocated using “feeling patterns” to occupy your need to touch while studying.

“Don’t be upset if you’re jittery.play with a stress relief ball or a pencil to have something in your hands while you’re studying or get into feeling patterns like touching your face and hands,” he stated.

Bob Kizlik, a doctor of education with years of instructing experience, feels that while “no two people study the same” there are “some general techniques that seem to produce good results.”

According to his website www.adprima.com, one of these strategies is the SQ3R method, a studying process supported by psychologists. The process involves (1) surveying reading material before beginning, (2) asking questions of the content which can be answered through reading it, (3) actively reading the material for the answers, (4) reciting what was read to review concepts and main ideas and finally (5) reviewing the material to go over unclear points. Kizlik also maintains that you shouldn’t move your lips because it causes you to read slower.

DiDonato also personally advocated the SQR3 method but felt that it is more effective in some subjects over others. He also brought out other techniques for study such as reviewing through “application dependent on the subject.” He used examples such as reviewing math concepts through real life tasks and using “connect the dots” exercises during history study to see how events tie together.

“Don’t just study to memorize facts.very rarely will you find a test where you just have to remember a whole bunch of facts and that’s all that will be there,” he said.

While Kizlik has guidelines on times and places for study on his site, DiDonato once again maintained that it all depends on the individual. He made the point that a person has to know what distracts them and avoid it during study time. If they are not distracted by certain things like television, Facebook, etc, DiDonato said felt having them around is no problem.

For the person who prefers quiet study areas however, he advised going to places like the library or the third floor of Sykes Student Union. Kyle Smith, an economics major, concurred with these views as he told The Quad that he uses the library for study time because its minimal distractions.

“At my apartment I have a computer and I can go online …but coming to the library really forces me to focus and that’s really why I come here: to get a lot more work done faster,” he said.

Some areas regarding effective study where both DiDonato and Kizlik concurred is as follows. For one thing they both regarded last-minute cramming as ineffective because “the mind can only absorb so much.” Secondly, they both felt student involvement in the classroom before an exam is a building block for later understanding material. Finally they both felt that the “interest a person has in what they are studying” is a key factor in determining whether or not they will succeed. DiDonato advised that students should always try to “keep an open mind” regarding what they study, for usually they will find something that interests them.

For more information on tips for study, contact the LARC in room 105 of Lawrence or call ext. 2535; or log onto Kizlik’s website at www.adprima.com.

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