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.