Anna-Marie Jaeschke & Macaela Mackenzie

The majority of students retain information most effectively when blending a few different study methods. But setting students up for studying success begins before they get to the library.

Be up front

“Complete transparency about what it takes to study and retain the material is key,” says Amy Baldwin, director of the Department of Student Transitions at the University of Central Arkansas. “Letting students know that up front can be really impactful.”

  • When you announce tests or exams, consider including an estimate of how far in advance students should start studying to do well.
  • Have a successful former student talk to the class about how much time they dedicated to studying and what study tools they used.

Emphasize the “why”

Many students get a boost from knowing the “why,” or purpose, of material they’re being taught. “It’s very easy to dismiss something that doesn’t feel interesting or relevant,” Baldwin says. When material might not be directly relevant for their major, emphasize how the problem-solving or creative thinking skills they’re developing will help them later in life. “Learning to learn is a useful skill everyone can walk away with,” says Baldwin.

Champion study resources

Finally, do your part to normalize the use of outside help such as tutors and campus study centers. “Smart students go to tutoring—it’s not just for students who are struggling,” says Baldwin.

Here are some helpful tips

  • Provide practice tests: These are a tangible way to help students stay on track.
  • Encourage students to color-code materials to aid memorization.
  • Come up with acronyms for lists students need to memorize.
  • Create a concept sheet with key words, diagrams, and charts to summarize the material for each unit.
  • Assign/encourage study groups.
  • Record lectures and post them online for students to review.
  • Break any study materials down into small sections to help students space out their studying.
  • Encourage students to review lecture notes and add their own reflections or questions after class.

With some creativity, your students’ studying can be more effective and even enjoyable.