The most effective study strategies according to a synthesis of psychological studies
Most students don’t use the most effective strategies for studying, and worse, commonly used strategies are among the least effective, according to a study published in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest .
John Dunlosky of Kent State University and his colleagues analyzed 10 study strategies that they rated according to their usefulness.
Low utility strategies
Paradoxically, strategies of lower utility are the most recommended and used, the researchers point out.
✓ Highlighting or underlining is at the top of the list of ineffective strategies. Although it is widely used, studies show that this strategy would bring no more benefit than just reading it. Some research even indicates that it could hinder learning:
by drawing attention to individual facts it could hinder the process of global understanding (making connections, deductions).
✓ Proofreading is almost as inefficient.
✓ Then comes the strategy to summarize . It is useful for those who have the ability, which many do not. The usefulness varies depending on the level of pre-existing expertise and the type of equipment.
Strategies of great utility
The most useful strategies are less well known, the researchers point out.
✓ Splitting your study time over several sessions rather than embarking on a marathon is one such strategy. The longer it is desired to remember content (as opposed to forgetting it soon after a review), the longer the intervals should be.
✓ Test your knowledge. The simple act of bringing information to mind strengthens knowledge and promotes future reminders.
Moderate utility strategies
The following strategies are considered to be of moderate to low utility either because their value is not well demonstrated scientifically, or because they do not represent the best use of study time.
✓ The imagery is the development of mental images to help memorization takes too long and is suitable for a limited range of content.
✓ The elaboration questioning of asking why certain statements are true while reading is considered of moderate utility due to a lack of scientific proof. The researchers wonder to what extent the strategy can be generalized, especially when the material to be studied is long.
✓ The explanation is to explain how the new information is linked to known or explain the steps of problem solving. Effectiveness depends in particular on the quality of the explanations provided.
✓ intersperse different types of content in a study session. Interest is only shown for motor tasks.
✓ The use of Mnemonic associated with words involves associating new vocabulary words, usually when learning a foreign language, with the image of the word in a context. This strategy is a lot of work to learn a single word.