A Busy Girl’s Guide to Successful College Learning.

To be successful in college, one the student must be willing to put in the time and effort necessary to complete the lessons, read the assignments, and properly study for exams. The importance of the effort required to be successful can be stated as, “Academic success in college requires a combination of active study habits such as completing assigned readings before class, taking effective notes during lectures, and studying course materials regularly (Credé & Kuncel, 2008; Lei, 2015).” (Heinicke, Zuckerman, & Cravalho, 2017). The student is going to need motivation above all to put in the kind of effort and time that will be required to be successful, as stated in a report by Everaert, Opdecam, and Maussen (2017), “Moreover, high intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation have a significant positive influence on deep learning.”
Proper planning and spacing out the study plans will be key to getting most of the time that is put into the lessons and study time. As stated, “The results indicated that self-regulation, specifically planning, as an important factor for explaining student success and satisfaction in an online course.” (Inan, Yukselturk, * Kurucay 2017). The best way to plan out the course is to set with a planner or calendar and a copy of the course syllabus prior to first day of class, and mark important dates, such as exam dates, lesson and assignment due dates, and any rough draft work for any final written assignments for end of course work. Once those dates are written down on the dates, it is wise to look at the reading assignment for each week, for number of chapters covered and look at length of chapters, then break the reading assignment into segments that will be short enough for retaining the information covered, yet not so long as to overwhelm the reader to prevent recalling any of the information.
In relation to studying for exams, use of study tools such as flashcards, practice exams, study guides, taking good notes, and highlighting have proven to aid in the success of performance on college exams. As noted in the following study by Bartoszewski and Gurung.

Bartoszewski, and Gurung (2015) study determined the following:
“Five techniques, summarization, highlighting, keyword mnemonics, rereading, and using imagery for text learning, have low utility although they relate to learning. For example, students who use imagery, creating a mental image for the text, learn better (Leutner, Leopold, & Sumfleth, 2009). Highlighting has also been used to assist a student in understanding the required text. Readers who were able to identify the most relevant material as evidenced by highlighting, achieved higher overall exam scores in the course (Bell & Limber, 2009). Three other techniques have moderate utility: Elaborative interrogation (generating an explanation for why a concept is true), self-explanation (relating new information to old information), and interleaved practice (studying by mixing different kinds of material within a single study session). For example, elaborative interrogation improved a student’s learning of factual information (Woloshyn, Paivio, & Pressley, 1994). In addition, self-explanation enhanced a student’s learning of the series of steps that needed to be taken for a specific task, especially when researchers gave specific instructions to the student (Rittle-Johnson, 2006). Only two techniques got top billing. Dunlosky et al. (2013) rated a final category of techniques as having high utility—practice testing (or practice retrieval) and distributed practicing (or spaced practice). In one study, practice testing benefited a student the most when a student was able to correctly recall the initial concepts three times, and in addition, relearnt the concepts over a long period of time (Rawson & Dunlosky, 2011). Learning is more likely to occur not only when the student is able to recall the item, but also when a student had successfully retrieved the items twice (Karpicke, 2009). Some students spread out their studying, a technique referred to as distributed practice (Dunlosky et al., 2013). An example of the way a student may engage in both high utility techniques is by using flashcards. Students using flashcards are practice testing, and they tend to also space out their practice over time (Wissman, Rawson, & Pyc, 2012). Overall, students would most likely perform better on tests if they space out their studying over the course, despite differences in the way distributed practice is carried out (Bain, 2012).
Based on the results of the study, it would be recommended to being on day one with the reading assignment, and highlight specific information to go back and read again. Making an outline of the chapter with headings listed throughout the chapter would be a good start on going back to find information for an open book exam. Going back after making the outline and making a study sheet from the highlighted notes from each section of the chapter would provide a study sheet to reference to create test questions for practice testing. Also, making word cards by using index cards to write down vocabulary words and definitions would be beneficial for becoming familiar with the terms, and help with better understanding of the practice test questions. The days before the exam, start with a quick review of each chapter covered on the exam being sure to add anything missed on to the study guides, notes or word cards, and on the day of the exam, allow time for reviewing the notes and study guides. Be sure to get plenty of rest the night before the exam, and do not stay up late trying to cram all the information in last minute. As Blerkom (2013) warns, “Studying for college exams requires a high level of motivation. You can’t just do a quick review the night before the exam and expect to learn all of the information. There’s just too much material to master.” (p 239). Eat a healthy breakfast and/or lunch (depending on timing) on the day of the exam. Relax, with proper time management, motivation, and effort put into completing lessons, reading the chapters, and preparing the study materials, the information on the exam will become familiar.

Bartoszewski, B. L., & Gurung, R. R. (2015). Comparing the relationship of learning techniques and exam score. Scholarship Of Teaching And Learning In Psychology, 1(3), 219-228. doi:10.1037/stl0000036
Blerkom, D.L. V. (2013). Orientation to College Learning, 7th Edition. [CengageBrain Bookshelf]. Retrieved from https://cengagebrain.vitalsource.com/#/books/9781133712435/
Everaert, P., Opdecam, E., & Maussen, S. (2017). The Relationship between Motivation, Learning Approaches, Academic Performance and Time Spent. Accounting Education, 26(1), 78-107.
Heinicke, M. R., Zuckerman, C. K., & Cravalho, D. A. (2017). An evaluation of readiness assessment tests in a college classroom: Exam performance, attendance, and participation. Behavior Analysis: Research And Practice, 17(2), 129-141. doi:10.1037/bar0000073
Inan, F., Yukselturk, E., Kurucay, M., & Flores, R. (2017). The Impact of Self-Regulation Strategies on Student Success and Satisfaction in an Online Course. International Journal On E-Learning, 16(1), 23-32.

10,000 steps with my best friend.

Unplug and recharge. It’s a novel concept, right? I mean, we have all heard of it. Ah, the imagery that our minds conjure up when we hear those terms are the recharging and unplugging of that little piece of glass and steel life’s blood affectionately known as our smart phones. They are smart, we can do pretty much anything with them, from email contacts from around the globe, to becoming amateur-professional photographers; hell, even, surf the internet, book a hotel, buy a plane ticket, and plan an endearing itinerary to some tropical island. And, let’s not forget social media. Ah, social media. That wondrous machine that consumes huge chunks of our day, and makes us feel, somehow, validated or violated. People nowadays spend enormous amounts of their life on social media, yet, lack necessary social skills to get through a dinner party without having anxiety attacks.
Life gets crazy, chaotic, if you will. We all have so many things going on all around us at any given time on any given day. Jobs, school, homes, and family, we all have at least one of these things that keep us set on strenuous deadlines. Juggling more than a few of these can be slightly more than mind boggling. The important thing that we only need to remember, is that we have to take a time out every once in a while, for ourselves. I mean, after all, we are no good to our families, our jobs or coworkers, or anything we attempt when we are run down and ineffective. Many people refrain from putting themselves in a much needed and well-deserved time out because they feel guilty. Maybe taking a nice long soaking bath is inconvenient because the children need to be bathed first. Maybe a nice drive just listening to music does not seem like a good idea because there is a report paper due in two days. However, there must be a balance somewhere.
I was recently reminded of that myself. My daughter came to visit for a week. She had moved to Minnesota from Georgia at the beginning of the year. So, I had not seen her in a few months, and did not know how long it would be until I would have the opportunity to see her again. I had taken some time off work so that I could spend the time with her. Now, normally when I have time off work, I break up the day into chunks of time that I spend working on my homework for school and house chores. She wanted to go for a walk around my neighborhood. I agreed to tag along with her, reminding her that I had homework to work on when we returned to the house. While on the walk, she mentioned that she wanted to also drive to downtown and walk around some of the little shops and boutiques. I agreed to go, with another reminder of having homework to complete. While we were on our walk, we had a great conversation and reflected on how different life had become for each of us. And, it dawned on me. The homework was not due for several days, and she was only here for a few days. I had missed her incredibly since she left a few months earlier, and I really wanted to just focus on spending quality time with her. So, I stopped thinking about having any homework to worry over, and I just walked with my daughter. We enjoyed a nice walk around the neighborhood, and down to the lake and back. During our conversations, we laughed, and we got serious. Then we drove to town and walked around sight seeing among the quaint little boutiques. We stopped for lunch before returning home. When we got back to the house, I checked my Fitbit and noticed that I had gotten in over 10,000 steps that day. It was, ironically, the first time in weeks, that I had even gotten to 10,000 steps. Between working at a desk job, and doing school work, I rarely get to move much at all during most days. But I let everything else go that day, and I just spent the day with my daughter, my best friend. And it was worth everything. She will be leaving tomorrow to go back to Minnesota, and it will be a while before I get the chance to do that again. We must do those things, kids and grandkids grow, and they grow fast, so if you do not allow yourself the chance to just stop and take in the moments with them, the moment will be gone, and you can never get it back.
In addition to enjoying a beautiful day with my daughter, I realized, I unplugged myself from my normal routine of “have to hurries” and was able to recharge my own batteries. And, that was amazingly beautiful. I let myself off the hook, so to speak, from school or house task commitments, and just enjoyed the simplicity of a walk. The ability to have great conversation with one of the most important persons in my life, was certainly a bonus. But, leaving my phone at home, also recharging, allowed me to reflect on the simple treasures of life that I had not taken notice of in some time, such as the warmth of the sun, the cool breeze, and we talked about how green everything is. Spring has just sprung this week, and I realized, during the walk that I had not even taken notice to how everything has already come to life. The experience was soul nourishing. During the weekend while she was down, we experienced multiple obstacles that cold have stolen the joy from her visit, yet through it all, while there was an err of natural frustration and concern, ultimately, there was a calmness that engulfed us. Perhaps the time we spent on our walk, reflecting on life and the world before the events unfolded, gained us an advantage on handling the stress? Taking these moments for a timeout of our routine is something that we all need to be mindful of doing from time to time. My daughter leaves in a few hours to go back to Minnesota, and I am not sure when I will get to see her again. But, I am grateful for the few hours that we took out of everything to enjoy our 10,000 steps and focus on each other and what is most important.


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