Hi, I’m Dr. Stephen Chew. I’m a professor of psychology here at Samford
University in Birmingham, Alabama. This is the fourth in a series of five videos
on studying effectively in college. Effective college study is more just a matter
of a desire to learn and devoting sufficient time and effort. Students have to utilize effective learning
strategies. If they use ineffective learning strategies,
they can study long and hard and still fail. In earlier videos, I described the levels
of processing framework, which says that shallow processing, which focuses on, meaningless,
superficial aspects does not lead to effective learning. Deep processing, which focuses on the meaning
and implications of material, does lead to connected learning. Then I discussed basic principles for achieving
deep processing. Effective study strategies employ some or
all of these principles. You can use those principles to develop good
study strategies that work for you. This video will give you a starting point. I will describe for you some study strategies
that are based on these principles. Think of study strategies as an orienting
task, that make you process information at certain levels. Good study strategies make you process information
at a deep, meaningful level focusing on comprehension and implications. Poor study strategies focus on a shallow level
which focus on superficial, meaningless information. Here are three research-based strategies for
achieving deep processing while reading.. The first is question generation. After you have read a chapter or reviewed
a section of notes, generate some questions over the material. Try to make the questions as meaningful as
possible. Questions about facts are OK, but questions
that make you compare and contrast, analyze, make connections, to think about implications
or generate examples are even better. Here’s a list of questions that you might
generate based on the videos so far. The first question is purely factual about
the definition of a term. That’s OK as long as you don’t just memorize
the definition without understanding it. The second and third and fourth questions
that are also about content, but they are asking about key arguments in the videos,
which go to a deeper level than a definition. Question 5 asks you to compare and contrast,
leading to both elaboration and distinctiveness. Finally, Question 6 asks you to relate the
information to your personal experience. Just generating the questions will help your
depth of processing. Reviewing the material to answer them is even
better, and you can always ask your questions to teachers. At first, generating questions will be a bit
awkward, but like anything, with practice will become easier and more automatic. The second strategy is to create a concept
map of the ideas you are studying. A concept map is a diagram of nodes and links. The nodes are concepts or facts that are linked
together. Here is a concept map I constructed for levels
of processing. Concept maps take time and effort to do, but
they don’t have to be neat and perfect and the very act of creating them helps you process
information deeply. The third method is to practice retrieving
and using the information in ways that your teacher expects you to be able to do. There are really two parts to this study strategy. The first part is to practice retrieving the
information without referring to your notes and book. So close your notes and book and just practice
retrieving the information. Explain it to someone else or write it down. The second part is to use the information
in the way that your teacher expects. Some teachers test for facts, some teachers
test for concepts. Is your teacher using multiple choice? Is your teacher using short answer or essay? Practice using the information in the way
the teacher is going to test you. But just practicing recalling the information
and thinking about how it might be used will be useful to you. You can take advantage of review questions
in the textbook. Oftentimes companion websites for the textbook
will have review tests that you can use. After you have practiced recalling the test
or recalling the information, you can check yourself against your textbook and your notes. This will help you identify weaknesses in
your understanding of the material. Now, what about taking notes during class? Note taking has three functions. First, it provides a summary of key points
from the lecture that you will need to understand and recall later. Second, you are creating a set of retrieval
cues or memory cues for the information that you didn’t record. You are only able to write down a small percentage
of the information presented in a lecture. Your notes help remind you of what you missed
writing down. The third function is that note taking is
an orienting task. Taking notes engages you in the class, and
how you take notes determines if you process the information in a deep, meaningful way
or in a superficial way. Note taking that makes you process the information
at a deep level will help your learning. So as the lecture goes on, think about key
concepts, key distinctions, and key relationships and be sure to write down examples. On the other hand, if you think of note-taking
as writing down as much of the lecture as possible without thinking about it, then you
are processing at a shallow level and your note taking will not help you to learn. This is especially a temptation if you take
notes using a laptop computer. I actually prefer taking notes by hand because
the flexibility in the format of taking notes. But, the real danger of taking notes by laptop
is the temptation to browse the internet or check your social networks during the lecture. This kind of distraction not only reduces
your learning, but it distracts those people around you. A few other things… If you miss information during a lecture,
be sure to get it right away either from the teacher or from the classmates around you. Second, taking good notes is very effortful
and usually requires your full concentration. If you have trouble writing fast enough, then
consider asking the professor if you can record the lecture. Next, borrowing notes from another student
is a poor substitute for missing a class. You are much better off attending class and
taking your own notes. Finally, notes are only helpful if you actively
organize them, review them, and think about them. Let’s now turn to using deep processing
while reading a textbook. The same principles for deep processing apply
here. A lot of students like to highlight while
they read a textbook. Highlighting can be seen as an orienting task. You can highlight for deep processing which
will help you to learn the material or you can highlight for shallow processing which
will actually hurt your learning. Consider the following paragraph, which was
modified from an old psychology textbook. It is tempting to go right to the bolded terms
and highlight them. It’s fast, easy, and pretty much useless. You’ve skimmed over important information
and you’ve set yourself up to memorize isolated facts, a terrible study strategy. Here is how to highlight for deep processing. Read all the text, then be selective about
what you highlight based on its importance and how it relates to other information. Highlight connections, key distinctions, and
applications. Don’t highlight complete passages; leave
out unnecessary text. Good highlighting requires multiple readings
of the text and meaningful decisions. It is slow and effortful and, to be most effective,
you have to go back and review what you highlighted. Here is how I would highlight the Freud passage. The first line of highlighting contains the
main theme of Freud’s theory. I highlighted the key parts of the definitions
of conscious and unconscious and the breakdown of the unconscious into preconscious and unconscious. I have the definitions and the distinctions
between them. Students may highlight a passage differently
because they have different perspectives. The important thing is that you highlight
following the principles of deep processing. Finally, I want to talk to you a little bit
about group study. If the group uses effective study strategies
and the norm is that everyone works hard, then you will learn in group study. However, if the group norm is that everyone
uses bad study strategies and there are a lot of distractions, then you simply won’t
learn. Studying in groups is one of the easiest ways
to fool yourself into believing you have really learned when you actually haven’t. Here are some principles for effective group
study. First, remember group study is a business
meeting. Like all business meetings, there should be
a goal for the meeting and an agenda. Everyone should come prepared and ready to
contribute. So, set a goal for the meeting, for example,
we will review chapter 8 of the textbook. Set conditions for participation. Everyone should have read the chapter and
have three questions ready to ask about it. If you aren’t prepared and can’t contribute,
then don’t come. Everyone keeps the ultimate goal of learning
in mind. Everyone has a chance to ask and answer questions
from other group members. The result should be that any member can express
the understanding of the whole group. In this video, we’ve discussed some concrete
ways of using the principles of deep learning to guide your study strategies in common learning
situations. Developing the effective study strategies
for you will take time and effort, but with practice, they will become automatic and will
be effective for you. But there will be setbacks along the way. What happens if you blow an exam? That is the topic of the next video