Take one step into Ramaker Library and you know: study season is in full swing. Stacks of books, IPods attached to nearly every ear, and endless hours of procrastination… wait, uh, I mean studying. Right?
So what makes all those hours spent with book in hand worth it? What really makes for a productive study session? According to a recent article in the “The New York Times” says that students should forget what they know about good study habits.
We’ve all heard the standard advice: Find a quiet, consistent study space. Study one subject at a time. Decide whether you need to study in groups or by yourself.
And while this common knowledge holds true for some of us, in recent studies, scientists have discovered some tricks that may improve the one thing that really matters when studying: what you remember.
According to the new research, studying in different locations, alternating between subjects in a single session, and spacing in between sessions all aided in improving the overall success of the student’s effort.
A 1978 experiment studied students’ testing ability of 40 vocabulary words. Those that studied in two starkly different rooms produced drastically better results than those students who studied twice in the same room.
What do Northwestern students think? Junior Christine Roy agrees, “I like studying in different environments. Sometimes the library is too intimidating, too many people. I like the Old Factory Coffee Shop, it is a calm and quiet place to study.”
Senior Wes Garcia adds, “I can’t study in my room. Even with the door closed. There’s a familiarity there that makes me want to fall asleep. I go to a neighbor’s room, there can be people there, it doesn’t matter. A change of scenery helps.”
What about procrastination? Do you do as well as you think you do right before a deadline?
“It’s a common myth that when you work under pressure, you do better. But the truth is you don’t focus as well as you think you do,” said Tom Truesdell, director of Academic Support Services. The studies verified that age-old adage that cramming, although seemingly helpful for that test tomorrow, didn’t benefit the students in the long run.
“Studying takes time. There are no shortcuts,” Truesdall adds. “Study everyday. Talk with your professors out of class. Work with a peer tutor.” And with 60-75% of NW students working with a peer tutor, it’s clear that partnership works.
“The goal of our department is to help students take ownership of their learning, to create a community of students helping and teaching each other.” In the end, forgetting what you know may be just the ticket to remembering what you need.