Students all respond to different methods of study in different ways. For example, some benefit from charts and diagrams more than others for effective learning, while many find their retention significantly improves when they listen to an instruction rather than read it. Understanding different types of learners in your classroom before planning a lesson will help the students absorb the material and provides a great opportunity to introduce effective study skills. Help your students discover their primary method for absorbing information, and encourage each of your learners to consider all of these techniques.
- Auditory learners are the students who understand more by listening. They may do well in a lecture setting or class discussion to enhance their study skills. They should be encouraged to tape record your class sessions and then listen to them again as they are studying. This strategy will help them connect the study materials or passages in a book with what was said and understood in class. These students may also find it helpful to read the information out loud to themselves. Sometimes they benefit from some sort of "background noise" like music when they study. It may seem counterintuitive to suggest distractions of that sort, but the noise helps to stimulate their thinking and will help them remember the material better.
- Visual learners need to see something before they will understand the information. If they are in a lecture class, they may need the important parts written on the board as a visual representation. Directed note taking is also helpful to a visual learner as they have a written representation of what they should be listening for instead of just being expected to pick out the main parts themselves. To build on these study strategies, teach the students graphic organizers (like Venn Diagrams, flash cards or outlining techniques) to organize their thoughts and ideas from the book. They may also do well by reading the chapter or getting a print out of a PowerPoint presentation if you use one in class.
- Tactile/kinesthetic learners need action and hands-on activities to succeed in the classroom. Role playing helps them learn the material better. Encourage these students to try preparing the lesson to "teach" someone else. Even if they don't get a chance to actually teach it to a live person, it helps to organize their thoughts as if they were. Making a puzzle out of concepts and details and then physically putting them in the right categories can help with memory retention as well.
- Organization is essential. No matter what method suits a student best, she needs to figure out an organizational system that works best for her as well. Some students prefer spiral bound notebooks, while others prefer binders and loose leaf paper. Calendars, assignment notebooks, and "To Do" lists may also be a good way to organize all of those upcoming deadlines and important dates. There is no one right way to get organized, so help the student by being flexible to meet her needs.
- Learn time management skills. Cutting out distractions or setting a specific time every day that is designated for studying will help your student effectively manage his time. Additionally, research has shown that short breaks should be incorporated into any study session in order to fully maximize the learning that is accomplished. These breaks need to be short and fairly frequent. Just be sure they don't turn into long breaks that cut into actual study time too much or cause too much distraction.
- Get enough rest! One of the highly ignored study tips for all types of learners is having enough rest. Sleep is a very important component to good study habits and skills. Falling asleep while studying is neither restful nor helpful when trying to learn the material. Teenagers should be getting between 8-10 hours of sleep a night in order to be fully functional the next morning and have successful recall of their studying from the prior night. Less than 6 hours of sleep has actually been proven to be detrimental, so make sure your student is actually sleeping and not cramming non-stop.
There is no study method that is 100% successful for everyone. All students need to find a way that works best for them by trying different study techniques. And students will likely change methods depending upon the environment or outside stimulations. Exposing students to these ideas, and many other options, will increase the likelihood the students will succeed.