Teaching Study Skills
Study skills emphasize the process of learning. Teaching study skills in the K-12 public schools is essential at all grade levels and in all subject areas. Student mastery of study skills is a major objective of teachers. The teaching of study skills equips students for a lifetime of learning. Teaching students how to study has historically been considered a duty of schools. Many students do not practice good study habits and do not see study skills as valuable. Teaching good study skills and habits to students based on the findings of research has generally yielded positive academic-achievement results ranging.
ACADEMIC TOPIC OVERVIEWS
Public School Education: Teaching Study Skills
Teaching good study skills and habits are basic to any education. Teaching study skills to students is equivalent to their learning how to study. The goal is to provide students with a study-skills "tool box," "bank," or personal inventory of strategies they may apply in studying and to employ in learning effectively. Study skills can be defined as learned abilities essential to acquiring knowledge and competence. Study skills emphasize the process of learning (Marshak, 1979; Marshak & Burkle, 1981). A general study skills program including curriculum-specific study strategies has value to students in each and every class. Study-skill competencies should constitute a significant part of educational objectives so as to prepare students for subsequent school work in elementary, middle school, and high school. Different aspects of study skills are needed at specific grade levels (Petercsak, 1986; Smith, 1959; Walker & Antaya-Moore, 2001).
The learning process is developmental and involves acquiring, growing, changing and improving students' knowledge. The ability to study efficiently and effectively is, in fact, a distinctive characteristic of most high-achieving students. The converse is also true; that is, many poor students are unproductive because they lack good study skills. Thus, the teaching of study skills increases students' learning capacities and assists them in adapting to various teaching methods and instructional approaches (Estes & Vaughn, 1985). Some strategies are more effective than others for each individual. Students must get to know their own study-skills strengths and weaknesses.
A Goal for Teachers
Student mastery of specific study skills is a major objective of teachers. Just as a good writer is one who has mastered writing skills, a good student is one who has mastered study skills. The development and mastery of study skills requires application and practice (Haladyna, 1997). Teaching study skills to students enables them to study efficiently and independently in a variety of learning activities, settings and situations. The goal is that of continually increasing independence in the use of study skills. This allows students to construct their own understandings and learn how to learn on their own through self-study and discovery. The development of students' study skills equips them for lifelong learning (Reid, 1975).
The teaching of learning and motivation strategies related to study-skills development is based on educational psychology. Students' learning is dependent on the way they study, and learning theories attempt to explain students' learning via cognitive thinking processes and cognitive learning styles (Anderson & Armbruster, 1980; Tobias, 1984; Tuckman, 2003). Psychological principles such as metacognition are related to modifying the behaviors of students lacking study skills and who are poorly motivated to achieve academically. Affect and attitude are important in learning and maintaining students' motivation to learn. Motivation techniques are used in behavior modification to change study behaviors of students, overcome psychological resistance, and turn negative attitudes into positive attitudes (Brender, 1981; Weber, 1991).
Metacognition reflects students abilities to change their thought processes to benefit themselves. Among the metacognitive strategies individuals can use to manage learning include planning, self-monitoring, and self-evaluating skills. When teachers teach metacognitive learning strategies to students, they are helping them to redirect less productive prevailing habits and attitudes into more productive habits and attitudes. Students gradually acquire the ability to teach themselves to learn (Haladyna, 1997; Wenden, 1998).
Highly successful individuals guide themselves systematically and have self-regulated thinking patterns. They learn how to self-monitor, self-reflect, and self-evaluate outcomes. In this process, they also utilize self-awareness, self-management, self-affirmation through personal feedback, and self-efficacy. In self-regulated learning, learners employ cognitive and metacognitive strategies. Self-regulated learners set goals, plan and use a variety of cognitive strategies to monitor progress and continually adjust their behaviors after evaluating prior outcomes (Barnett, 1997; Haladyna, 1997; Masui & De Corte, 2005).
Reflection and attribution are basic components of self-regulated learning. Attribution generally occurs when students assign responsibility for their success or failure either to personal characteristics within themselves such as effort or ability, or conversely to something outside themselves such as luck or the difficulty of a task. Interventions to train students to reflect and to attribute constructively can improve metacognitive and conative learning abilities and positively impact academic achievement. The process of conation refers to aspects of mental processes and behaviors that are directed toward change and action. These aspects include impulse or natural tendency, volition, desire, and striving. Improving metacognitive, conative, and regulation skills improve general learning competence (Gage & Berliner, 1988; Haladyna, 1997; Masui & De Corte, 2005).
The problem of procrastination involves the complex interaction of behavioral, cognitive, and affective attributes and is not solely due to deficits in study habits or time management. Students must overcome the urge to procrastinate in developing positive and responsible study habits (Rutkowski & Domino, 1975; Solomon & Rothblum, 1984). Emotional problems, tension, and anxiety cause psychological stress and discomfort which can interfere with students' studying, test performance and academic effectiveness. Students may undergo a training program to reduce anxiety so as to improve knowledge retention and test scores (Tobias, 1984; Wark, 1970).
Students must develop study strategies for independent learning, and be able to self-assess their own individual study skills. A fully developed arsenal of study strategies will improve academic achievement. General strategies suggested are to actively participate in class, follow directions of the teacher and seek teacher assistance when needed, review and study handouts and study guides, complete worksheets, learn test-taking techniques, and prepare for exams (Gage & Berliner, 1988). Basic study skills include locating, selecting, organizing, and retaining information. Study skills have been classified in a number of ways. Reid (1979) groups study skills into three relatively coherent clusters:
* Receptive skills,
* Reflective skills and
* Expressive skills.
Receptive skills relate to the intake of ideas through reading. Reflective skills deal with the interaction between the individual and what he or she reads or sees. Expressive skills are abilities to apply knowledge learned and to demonstrate its utility.
Estes and Vaughn (1985) classify study skills into four different categories:
* Work-study skills,
* Locational skills,
* Organizational skills and
* Specialized skills.
Work-study skills are the fundamental skills of study, such as note taking and outlining. Locational skills refer to knowing where to find information residing in various reference sources. Locational skills are more generally referred to as research skills. Organizational skills include time management. Specialized skills are those needed for specific purposes such as test taking, using graphic aids and following directions (Estes & Vaughn, 1985).
Research techniques are used to gather information and materials. Research requires knowledge of the use of both traditional and online reference sources. Research can be applied to class reports, written or oral research papers, essays, and themes (Basso & McCoy, 1996; Reid, 1979).
Teachers need to instruct students in skills related to the use of various reference sources and materials. These include reference skills, locational skills, and library skills. Students need to be taught how dictionaries can be used for information other than definitions of words, as well as how to use various other types of reference books including atlases, almanacs and encyclopedias (Estes & Vaughn, 1985; Gabriel, 2005). Students also need to be taught how to locate, evaluate, and use online research sources.
Students should establish a familiar place for studying. Where one studies may be just as crucial as how one studies. The best place for productive studying is usually a special place that is not too comfortable and not too uncomfortable. Most students study and do their homework in a quiet place at home. The study space should be organized to minimize distractions so that students can maintain their concentration. Recognizing external or environmental constraints to learning is half the battle (Estes & Vaughn, 1985; Gage & Berliner, 1988; Green & Rankin, 1985). Minimizing distractions can be a challenge for students who are conducting research online.
Organizational skills are basic components of remediation in study-skills attainment or improvement. Students need to be able to organize study materials, plan using a step-wise process, identify and set goals, and use orderly work methods. Students should keep written records of class notes and assignments, and organize and maintain them in electronic and/or hard copy files using classification and alphabetization.
Organizational skills are the most crucial skills which a teacher must diagnose and provide students assistance with. These skills aid students' learning and help make their study time more enjoyable and profitable. (Estes & Vaughn, 1985; Gabriel, 2005).
Students also need to develop effective time-management skills. One requirement in managing time is to set aside specific study time. One motivational factor with regard to time management is for students to recognize how much time is being wasted (Angel, 1983; Edgington & Hyman, 2005; Estes & Vaughn, 1985; Gabriel, 2005; Gage & Berliner, 1988). Teachers must instruct students in time-management skills including how to use a planner for managing their time.
Developing reading-study skills is another study strategy. A strategy for reading more effectively and improving reading comprehension is for students to become active versus passive readers. They also need to know how to use subject headings and indices. Reading rates can be adjusted to the difficulty of the material, and speed-reading can be used for surveying and skimming chapters....
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