Breakthrough Study Skills

Breakthrough Study Skills The Main Idea in Breakthrough Learning


Most  Students and Teachers do NOT understand what it means to Study.

Test yourself.  Look at the long list of topics often considered STUDY SKILLS. Think about which ones actually describe the act of Studying. Don’t take the time to decide about every topic. You might want to list five or so that are clearly NOT a part of studying  and five that  clearly ARE part of studying.

Which of these describe Study?

The picture below is the header on both Breakthrough Learning Websites. It is simply here to hide the answers until you are ready.  When you have a good ideas of which are and which are not study skills, continue past the header for the answers.

Choose a good time and place to study.       Use a better reading strategy.      Go to all your classes.       Do your homework soon after class.    Write all tests and due dates for papers on a calendar.       Take good notes in class.        Spend two hours studying for each hour in class.      Do all assignment well and turn in on time.                 Learn and use Time Management.       Read assignments before lectures.      Learn to increase self-motivation.         Improve  writing skills.     Be part of a study group.
Learn about and use Critical Thinking.    Relate what you read to what you already know.      Use timelines to show events in time.     Make a concept map of what you read.     Review material just before sleeping.  Write an outline of what you read.   Evaluate sources on the Internet.    Compare and contrast topics from material you read.     Write questions and look for answers.    Make a  timeline of material you are learning.   Find the main ideas, examples and reasoning.   Explain concepts in your own words

Group of students around a laptop

The Answers :

Everything here is a good idea but the suggestions in the first four lines are NOT studying. They are good habits for learning.  It is interesting that most books on study skills focus on these. Everything in the last four lines is  as part of studying. Let me illustrate with some simple drawings.

The first Symbolic Image: the student’s empty head

Most students work pretty hard to learn. They  listen and take notes during lectures. They read and try to understand  the textbook. Why is it they forget nearly everything in a month or less. How can we call this getting an education? This is my first image. It shows information going in and coming out, leaving the head empty. We can call this  a symbolic image or a visual metaphor. We are more familiar with verbal metaphors:  In one ear and out the other.  Easy come, easy go. There is also a popular  analogy comparing study to digestion. It describes students swallowing all that information, only to vomit or regurgitate it on a test.  We really need to chew the information slowly and thoughtfully. We need to digest the ideas so it becomes part of us. When food is digested it is absorbed, passing  from the small intestines into the blookstream and  carried by the blood to all parts of the body. When information is well digested, it is absorbed through study and carried by the nerves to all parts of our brain. It is stored there, waiting until we need to recall it.

The Second Symbolic Image: the brain now includes Study Skills

Organization, Thinking, and Remembering are essential to Study. This can also be called MENTAL PROCESSING.

We could describe the first image as The Problem.   The second image shows The solution. When students use effective study skills, the brain does not remain empty. The first of the Study Strategies (or Mental Processing Strategies) includes Organizing Information. Twelve VERBAL strategies and Twelve VISUAL strategies are described  on the websites. The information is processed further using Ten Ways of Thinking and Ten ways of Remembering.

The material in these websites is different from much information about study skills because:

  1. These websites are based on serious research, especially research on the brain.
  2. These websites use stories when possible because we all enjoy stories and we remember stories better than information.
  3. These websites take an original approach to study skills that should be more effective. This approach separates  habits, information input and output from Strategies for Mental Processing that we can also call STUDY.

Both  websites are  divided into three main sections:

1. The Ten HABITS of Successful College Students

2. Strengthen Basic Learning SKILLS

3. STUDY STRATEGIES for Mental Processing

We need all of these, the good habits, the strong learning skills…. and  we need to understand and use STUDY Strategies.   For information on Breakthrough Learning Workshops for adults or for students

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