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Strategies and Skills for Effective Learning

Study Skills
Study skills involve the ability to study effectively and efficiently, and include time management, organization, and the use of lecture notes, assigned readings, and other materials from class. This method is useful for rewriting and clarifying notes (best when done within 24 hours after the class) as well as taking notes from the readings. After you have taken the notes, you can test your knowledge of the material by covering up either side of the page and quizzing yourself on the material. Try to use visuals whenever possible (e.g., graphs, pictures, mapping, timelines), and reduce and organize the writing as much as possible, using your own words for explanations and definitions. Be sure to fill in any missing information by locating it in the text or asking someone else.

Note Taking
While taking notes during class and doing the assigned readings give you a general understanding of the course content, you should utilize methods of studying which will improve your understanding and your ability to remember material. One system is the use of two-column notes that provide a built-in method for self-quizzing. For example, 1/3 of the page is used for a main idea or vocabulary words and 2/3 of the page is used to record details, explanation, or a definition of an idea or word.

Reading Strategies
Most students are overwhelmed by the amount of reading they are required to complete in college. Facilitators rely on written material to supplement lectures, introduce new concepts, and provide a basis for class discussions. In most cases, it is impossible to be prepared for class without completing assigned readings ahead of time. A frequent complaint from students is, "I read the assignment, but I didn't get anything out of it." If you decide to invest time in reading your class texts, it is important that the investment be worthwhile. Use of the SQ3R or PQ3R reading strategy is a good way to monitor your comprehension and understanding of written assignments in order to "get something out of" your reading assignments. This method has five steps:
  1. SURVEY (PREVIEW) the introductory paragraphs, the subheadings, and the last paragraph or summary. Read them over and try to relate them to what you already know.
  2. Change each subheading into a QUESTION before reading a section. For example, if the boldface subheading reads "Theories of Personality Development," change it to read, "What are the theories of personality development?" Actually writing it down really helps.
  3. READ the section to answer the question. Make notes in the margin and work on highlighting important information.
  4. RECITE the answer to the question to yourself. This kind of rehearsal aids in recall.
  5. REVIEW the entire selection by repeating steps 2 and 4 (question and recite for each selection).