A recent issue of The Psychologist included a “rough guide to studying psychology” by the editor of the excellent Research Digest blog, Christian Jarrett. In his guide, Jarrett provided nine evidence-based study tips:
- Adopt a growth mindset: [Students] who see intelligence as malleable, react to adversity by working harder and trying out new strategies. […] Research also suggests lecturers and teachers should […] avoid comments on innate ability and emphasise instead what students did well to achieve their success.
- Sleep well.
- Forgive yourself for procrastinating.
- Test yourself: Time spent answering quiz questions (including feedback of correct answers) is more beneficial than the same time spent merely re-studying that same material. […] Testing ‘creates powerful memories that are not easily forgotten’ and it allows you to diagnose your learning. […] Self-testing when information is still fresh in your memory, immediately after studying, doesn’t work. It does not create lasting memories, and it creates overconfidence.
- Pace your studies: The secret to remembering material long-term is to review it periodically, rather than trying to cram. […] The optimal time to leave material before reviewing it is 10 to 30 per cent of the period you want to remember it for.
- Vivid examples may not always work best: Students taught about mathematical relations linking three items in a group were only able to transfer the rules to a novel, real-life situation if they were originally taught the rules using abstract symbols. Those taught with [a metaphorical aid] were unable to transfer what they’d learned.
- Take naps: Naps as short as ten minutes can reduce subsequent fatigue and help boost concentration.
- Get handouts prior to the lecture: Students given Powerpoint slide handouts before a lecture made fewer notes but performed the same or better in a later test of the lecture material than students who weren’t given the handouts until the lecture was over.
- Believe in yourself: Students’ belief in their own ability, called ‘self-efficacy’, and their general ability both made unique contributions to their performance. […] Instructors that focus on building the confidence of students, providing strategic instruction, and giving relevant feedback can enhance performance outcomes.