(Adapted fromDoing Poorly On Purpose, James R. Delisle)
Professor Robert A. Bjork (n.d.), coordinator of UCLA's Learning and Forgetting Lab has identified seven interrelated study techniques, including these:
- Allocate attention efficiently: Bjork believes that if people divide their attention between two tasks, both tasks suffer. Therefore, taking one task at a time, students can figure out ways to tackle the stuff they're supposed to learn. If they're fond of highlighting texts with yellow markers, they need to know that this is a passive activity that doesn't help them retain the information. If a book's pages are covered with more yelllow than not, the highlight should be put aside and replaced with a pen or pencil. Students should then write the crux of particular paragraphs in the margins, which is an active process that engages the mind.
- Vary your studying techniques: It is often menttioned that students should have one place at home and at school for the express purpose of studying. Bjork found that students actually retain more information if they alternate settings in which they study. If students have trouble understanding a concept, they should review it several times in the different settings they've selected. Also, they shouldn't try studying for hours on end without a break; a study break of at least five minutess per hour is essential.
- Space your study over time: Bjork's prescription is to study one subject, take a break, go to subject two, take a break, go back and revisit the first subject, take another break, return to the sceond subject . . . Repeat as needed.
- Organize and structure yourself: If students have to read a long book chapter, they often begin on the first page and just move on to its conclusion. According to Bjork's research, this is not the best approach. Instead, students should begin by reading the chapter summary or conclusion, followed by a review of the chapter's subheadings, which are almost always an advance guide on its most salient topics. While reading, they should take notes on the most important points, so when they return to the chapter later, they can begin by reviewing their own notes.