Slow and steady beats speedy studying, research says
Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 23, 2012 18:04
Sophomore Daniel Stewart summed up a common college plight: “I guess my grades speak for themselves. I suck at studying.”
Stewart may find interest in recent case studies that question the study habits of college students.
In one recent study, researcher Lea Winerman said college students don’t understand the importance of testing themselves, spacing their study sessions, “taking the hard route” and interweaving their study subjects.
Winerman said, “Research has shown that some ‘common sense’ study techniques – like always reading in the same quiet location, or spending hours at a time concentrating on one subject – don’t promote long-term learning.”
Winerman said cramming is futile and that, for example, spacing 12 hours of study material into four intervals of three hours is more fruitful than cramming for 12 hours the night before a test.
Researcher Daniel Willingham said, “Rereading is a terribly inefficient strategy. The best strategy – by far – is to self-test.”
Willingham’s study, published March 26, concluded that 83.6 percent of polled students chose to reread their material come study time. Only 10.7 percent rely on self-testing.
Stewart said, “I study with my friends a lot. Usually, we get distracted and we don’t end up actually studying.”
Stewart said electronic distractions, especially online gaming, keep him from applying ambition towards academics.
“I got a prescription for Adderall, and that’s sort of helped me focus on what matters. But when I’m not on it, I don’t feel as compelled to do that stuff.”
A trend has arisen: many college students are feigning attention deficit disorder to receive legal amphetamines like Adderall from their doctors to correct their bad study habits.
Undeclared major Colin Griffiths, 19, said, “I went through a phase where I relied on (Adderall) to get me through the school week. I didn’t clinically need it. It puts you in a zone where you don’t even mind studying. You know what you have to do and you do it.”
Final exams begin Monday, May 14 and end Tuesday, May 22.