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4 Reasons Why Traditional Study Methods Don't Work Anymore

3 Min Read
November 03, 2022

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, a large population of students and teachers were forced to continue lessons in a virtual setting. The global pandemic has not only revealed weaknesses in each country's public health infrastructure but in the academic sector as well. Especially for the class of 2021, their last year of schooling was not easy, and many students found themselves with bad study habits and degrading test scores. Not to worry, though, as we will help you break down just what it takes to leave those old habits behind and get started on sustainable study methods.

Reading and Rereading texts 

One of the most common and fatal mistakes students make is that reading the textbook or notes counts as studying. In fact, studies show that reading is not an “active studying technique” and does not often result in improved learning experiences. (Mackenzie, 1994) What this means is that while the information we need to get in our heads is usually in these texts, spending hours at a time staring at the e-textbook in your laptop won't do you any good, and will just end up tiring out your eyes. Instead, try using your textbook and notes to formulate a study guide, and come up with your own questions and problems, with complete answers for them. In this way, your brain will learn the concept twice: while understanding the answer and creating a good question for it. 

Highlighting Important Points

Another very common habit for students is to use colorful pens to underline and highlight the key points of a lesson. While highlighting does improve learning, it cannot do students any good alone. A good supplemental activity to pair with highlighting is to paraphrase and reflect. By using intentional learning strategies alongside highlighting, students are encouraged to internalize the key concept of every paragraph read, paraphrase it in a way a child would understand, and come up with questions to inquire further understanding. It is important that students understand the importance of intentional learning, and that they actually grasp what they are learning, and not just memorize facts and phrases. 

Reviewing One Topic at a Time

While this may sound odd, interleaving practice is actually a more effective study method compared to blocked practice. In blocked practice, students attempt the same type of question over and over again, until they feel they have gained mastery over it. For example, practicing multiplication repeatedly before moving on to division and fractions. However, a more effective method is to interleave different types of questions into a single set, such as practicing addition, subtraction, and division problems along with multiplication in one sitting. This allows the brain to have to work to solve different types of questions at the same time, which promotes critical thinking and better understanding of why multiplication is different from addition, and how it is related to division. 

Leaving the Testing to Teachers

Over the last few generations, testing has gained a huge negative stigma in the student community, with so much emphasis placed on getting high scores on standardized testing as a requirement to enter prestigious universities. This results in students having a bad reaction to tests, seeing them as obstacles in their academic journey when in reality, they can be a useful tool for studying. Pre-testing, flashcards, and self-quizzing are all good practices that can enhance a student's ability to perform well on tests. Pre-tests allow students to identify which aspects of a topic or lecture that they understand the least, and can improve on. Flashcards are a great tool for memorizing short, essential information such as dates, percentages, and terms. Self-quizzing is also good, as it tests a student's ability to recall items from their short and long-term memory, depending on when it is used. 

Overall, as the world around us continues to evolve, learning and studying has evolved along with it, and we need to keep up. With new academic infrastructure being set up to improve the welfare of online learners, we need to keep up and adapt to it as well!