When I think back on my experiences with middle school and high school academics, there are two images that come to mind: highlighters and flashcards. These two tools were my constant companions as I prepared for tests, big and small, whether it was a Friday afternoon quiz or an AP exam. My study habits included reading, repetition, highlighting, flash card making, Doritos munching, and a lot of The Oprah Winfrey Show in the background. Yes, even before the days of texting and social media there were plenty of ways that we teens distracted ourselves from studying. As I was looking for inspiration for this piece I started Googling “quotes about studying” and found this faux definition that probably reflects reality for many of the teens we know:
It turns out that many of the study habits we’ve become accustomed to are actually detours and not pathways. Our Young Adult Department recently began programming initiatives to help prepare teens for academic success. Whether you’re a teen reading this now, or you have a teen in your life, we encourage you to consult our newsletter and contact our Young Adult Department librarians to find out more information about these programs.
Today, I would like to highlight “How are you studying? Learn to avoid dangerous detours” that was presented on Saturday, January 18th to nine local teens as part of Student Smart, the umbrella term for workshops offered here at the LPL that equip students with fundamental tools to improve their study skills. Dr. Joanna Alcruz and Dr. Melissa Gebbia from the Cognition and Learning Lab (CogLe) at Molloy College led the presentation. Drs. Alcruz and Gebbia use cognitive science to formulate evidence-based practices for more effective studying. The small-group setting was perfect for the Drs. to lead teens in games and activities to show how counterproductive certain habits are when studying. For example, here are a few key tips that emerged from the workshop:
- No highlighting. I couldn’t believe it when I heard it, but according to the research highlighting is not giving us a special retention boost. Instead, annotate the text or even draw pictures to help you better understand the material.
- Even though all-nighter cram sessions might be the default for over-scheduled teens, it’s counterproductive to spend more than two hours at a time studying. So, give yourself a 15-30 minute break when you hit the two-hour mark.
- Speaking of taking a break, use that time to listen to music or watch television and don’t spend your study time going back and forth between Spotify and your textbook or your practice quiz and Riverdale. Distractions like those are classic detours. Jumping back and forth between A (your studying) and B (your distraction) means that A will never have your full attention. This is one time when multitasking will definitely not work in your favor.
- I like to work linearly, in order. However, research done in the Cognition and Learning Lab have proven that’s not the best way to study. Instead, Dr. Alcruz and Dr. Gebbia recommend you start with the first chapter, skip to the last chapter, and then jump back to the middle chapters. This is the best way to ensure that nothing gets skipped or glossed over.
- Lastly, get in the habit of peer studying. This should be an easy one: study with your friends! The Young Adult Department periodically hosts study group sessions. We’re a great location for you and your friends to meet, without most of the distractions you would have at home. Contact the Young Adult Department at 516-731-5728, ext. 241 for more information about upcoming study groups.
The Young Adult Department has a full roster of programs to assist you with schoolwork and/or give you a much-needed break from academics. Study courses, crafting, community service projects, and gaming are some of the interests they cater to, so be sure to check our website for a full listing of all programs.
(l-r) Dr. Gebbia and Dr. Alcruz