Monday, January 9, 2017

‘Bounce Back’ on your academics with Effective Study Strategies

By Jenna Lam, Academic Assistant (Work Study student)

Happy New Year! Welcome back to starting a new semester at UTSC!

The start of a new semester is always exciting – it’s your chance to take everything you’ve learned about studying and bringing it with you into your new courses. Speaking of studying, when was the last time you took a moment to pause your studying – to check-in, evaluate, and re-think your studying strategy? At first, it may feel counter-intuitive… why should I give up any more precious time to re-plan my studying, if I can just continue going full-charge at my textbook? It turns out that studying is more than just memorizing what we need. Studying is a skill like any other – one that can be refined, re-strategized, and re-thought!

#newyearstudyresolutions #bounceback 

Have you heard of these study tips…? 

1) The Spacing Effect

This study technique divides course content in a way that facilitates memory and concentration. As the name suggests, effective studying happens when it is spaced out and started early. Additionally, when coupled with the habit of continual review (a day later, a week later, two weeks later), this powerful technique also gives room to self-testing.

What this means for students is that by re-organizing allocated study periods of grouped topics throughout a longer period of time, we are able to pace our practice. Practice is key, since the application of information strengthens our understanding. Altogether, longer exposure and repeated practice with course content at a pace that allows our brains to rest and restore itself can only promote our confidence!

3 points to consider:
  1. Use your course outline to help you divide course content/group topics on a week-to-week basis
  2. Use our Daily Task Planner to allocate study periods for all your courses
  3. Try starting with 50-minute work – 10-minute break study cycles, with longer breaks after several cycles. Every student is different, and this can be adapted to fit your study preferences.You know yourself best!
Additional tip-sheet resources:

2) Speaking of Self-Testing… 

Self-testing is when we give ourselves a pre-evaluation to determine the topics that we are most and least comfortable. The reason why I’m a big fan of self-testing is because it comes full-circle with all the work done throughout the week – students must consult with notes, material, and the syllabus in order to resolve the major themes and learning goals of the course. We can ask ourselves the following question: if I were the professor, what would be the most important topics that I would like for my students to be able to explain, demonstrate, communicate, synthesize, prove, apply, argue, support, compare, contrast, trace… (Notice all these different ways to work with and think about information! It’s now time to practice!)

Recommended tip-sheets to cover self-testing:

3) A Note on Self-Care

Lastly, studying is not just a single mental activity that involves a one-way channel between our brains and the textbook. Our mind and body works together. For instance, do you feel physical discomfort anywhere when you study? Is your mind wandering? Are you distracted? Needless to say, these are signs that we can’t ignore. Our brain needs to rest and restore itself between study periods. Don’t forget to sleep and maintain your health. Give yourself a gentle shoulder roll and short stroll around campus. Do something you enjoy after a long day. It’s all about feeling energized and ready to start anew!

Steadily Onward 

During our study-pause, we discussed spacing-out our studying, testing ourselves on course material, and looking after ourselves (self-care). Needless to say, these are all study techniques that become easier with practice (remember how we mentioned that studying is a skill?). The beautiful part to this is that we can choose to refine our study-skills at any time (not just in the New Year!). Everyone will come to learn what works best for them – but it only works if we remain committed to the progress. It’s the discovery of ‘’what works best for me in terms of studying’’ that is the most exciting part of all!

Last few notes:

Study Success Sessions are back up and running! Drop by AC254 (Study Room located in the Library) on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays between 12pm-2pm to meet with a Study Skills Peer Coach (senior student) to discuss your personalized study plan for this upcoming new semester.

January is Bounce Back Month!  Please register for the following Study-Skills related workshops:
Learning & Study Strategies Inventory (LASSI)

Learning & Study Strategies Inventory (LASSI)
Jan 18
Time Management
Jan 19
Smart Reading Strategies
Jan 23
Effective Note Taking Strategies
Jan 25
AIM to Meet University Expectations, Academic Integrity Matters**
Jan 30
Midterm Preparation
Jan 31

Register for a workshop in > Events & Workshops Calendar > UTSC Academic Advising & Career Centre

**Register for AIM workshop on Intranet:

With this, I would like to wish all students “happy studying!”

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