Monday, March 21, 2011

Pennco Tech: Tips for Getting the Most from Study Time

Many adult learners are returning to school long after they graduated high school. Many have forgotten how to learn, and must obtain that basic skill. Studying new material can be challenging, especially a subject that is new to you. How you approach learning the assigned material can maximize retention.

Read the summary first. This will give you an idea of the main focus of the entire chapter. When you then sit down to read the text you will find you have a greater understanding of what is being taught. Many professors also post notes or study guides on their websites, utilize these prior to reading as well.

Learn new vocabulary second. Textbooks generally have new terms and important vocabulary highlighted. Use the glossary at the back of the book to gain an understanding of these terms prior to reading the chapters. This will help you to more fully understand the context in which new terms are being used. Even if you think you know what a keyword means, read the glossary anyway. Specific subjects may have a more detailed or different definition with regards to the area of study.

Review topic sentences and conclusions. This method reinforces the points the author is trying to make in each section. This repetitive type of reading will further cement the main points in your mind,

Understand your learning style. Are you a visual, auditory or tactile/kinesthetic learner? If you are visual, pay careful attention to graphs and examples given in text. If you are an auditory thinker, read the text aloud or enlist the help of a friend to read to you. Have discussions about the material, and record any verbal instruction for playback. If you are a kinesthetic learner, rewrite notes, write down main ideas and vocabulary words. Draw pictures or graphs that demonstrate the material.

Be creative. Don't try to memorize the text as written. Search for examples within the material, and think of new scenarios on your own. Paying attention to cause and effect will help facilitate this type of thinking, allow you to see patterns, and encourage problem-solving skills.