Study skills are those strategies and approaches that are applied in the learning process and are of great significance for the success of students while in school. Study skills are also considered to be of essence for acquiring good grades and learning throughout a person’s life and generally speaking, any skill which gives a boost to a person’s capability to learn and pass examinations could be termed as a study skill. There are wide varieties of these study skills, which may deal with the process of retaining information, organization and taking in new information, or dealing with assessments. They consist of mnemonics, which play a major role in assisting in the maintenance of lists of information and effective note taking. Indeed, study skills have been adopted in schools and are now increasingly being taught in colleges and high schools. However, if students are not careful, then they tend to deviate from the principles of good studying habits resulting in dropping in their grades and general poor performances. There are many factors that could lead students to lose touch with study skills. A comprehensive study skill should recognize the challenges it is due to face in its process of implementation. This paper looks at some of these challenges in details and what should be done to enhance effective study skills in students.
One of the major challenges that affect the process of implementing study skills is study distractions. There is no doubt that college students tend to get bored at the slightest chance that presents itself especially during in between lessons. And it surprising to what extent they would go just to procrastinate on their homework or to block out a professor’s lecture. Many students craft cunning ways just to ignore their academic obligations, and this trend has been reported to be on the rise given that there is also marked advancement in modern day technologies. Technology takes the highest rank as a distraction that steals away the concentration of students. With many fun ways of avoiding to do work, it is almost expected that a student can never pay much attention to studies. The revolutionary communication device; the cell phone is said to have become a major ‘professor pet peeve’ because students cannot seem to keep their hands of them! Of course, text messaging is the main culprit. After all, it is hard for the students to imagine that the lecture by the professor is more interesting than what their friends have to say. Unfortunately, students who imagine they can multi-task end up either deteriorating in their class work or miss out on key points during the lectures. Multi-tasking affects the learning system of the brain and this in-turn adversely affects the performance of the student and it makes the process of learning to be less flexible and more specialized to a point where the student is unable to retrieve information easily. The best way for students should do to improve their memories, is through paying close attention to the things they want to remember. Having a single task to focus on, a student can be able to notice more patterns and making more sense of them thus more understanding (Parker, 2006). Apparently, the distraction from phones is not limited to texting alone. With some internet enabled phones being of a particular menace. Social sites such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and many more have gained prominence with students who are signed up members. The urge to log in-in these social sites and chatting via them while in a class, reduces and shifts the students’ concentration on whatever is being taught. However, the only one way of mitigating cell phones as a source of distractions, students should show good faith and turn off their phones when taking their lessons and if possible not to carry the cell phone to school (Gladen, 2008).
Study skills are not only applicable in a school environment. Even while at home a student is required to maintain a consistent study trend. However, the home also is presents avenues for distractions that would impact negatively on the students’ concentration. The television is more recognized as an old school distraction and a stumbling block in the way studying while at home. Millions of channels and programs all available at the click of the button of the remote control towards the television, have further frustrated efforts to realize the effectiveness of study skills at the home. These TV programs are based on conversations and plots that can trick the students’ brain into distraction state without even their realization. The sure way of having avoiding the TV distraction would be through staying away from it when handling assignments and homework.
Noise is also a distraction that could affect a students’ study skill when both at home or, and at school. In a noisy environment, students tend to struggle in paying attention in class or study areas because of the background noises that do interfere with the students’ concentration. According to (Fleming, n.d.), noise distraction does not affect all students in a similar manner, rather it is predetermined by three common learning styles. These are; tactile learning, visual learning and auditory learning. Of these three types of learning styles, the most distracted by background noise is the auditory learners. Auditory learners have unique traits they exhibit while reading or speaking that identifies them. Some of these unique traits include; moving of the lips while reading, good at speech but poor in writing, good at spelling words out loud and finding it difficult to visualize things. It therefore implies that the study skills of students, who fall in this category of auditory learners, should be more wary and more sensitive of the environments they study in.
Cutting out on the distractions or setting a specific time every day that is designated for studying helps the students to effectively manage time. Additionally, research has revealed that incorporating short breaks into any study session goes a long way to fully maximizing the learning that is accomplished. These breaks need to be short and fairly frequent. However, care should be observed so as to be sure they do not turn into long breaks that cut into actual study time too much or cause too much distraction. The success of a study strategy heavily relies on how properly a student would manage time and in such a way that best fits their lifestyles and needs in order to increase their chances of achieving educational goals. In time management, one thing stands out; organization. And it is through this systemic and organized way of doing things that time is accounted for and well spent. Students can learn proper time management through the following ways; making a to-do-list on which the students record the most important tasks. Students can also evaluate themselves to find the right time that they can work best, e.g. a student who can handle math better in the afternoon should create time and make the best out the time. Proper time management also involves compromises, for instance, a student might opt not say ‘no’ to a movie invitation and rather read for an exam or do something else constructive. Reading an article while commuting on a train or bus could be regarded as utilizing spare minutes wisely. Another important tip in time management, is reviewing notes on a daily basis as a way of reinforcing the brain with the lessons learnt. When this is practiced over a period of time, it becomes easier for the student to recall information and less time is spent on studying before a test. Finally, a good night sleep is important especially for the brain to rest in order to perform at its peak (The College Board, n.d.).
In spite of all the strategies that have been put forward to improve studying skills, one thing remains equally important and determines the successes of these strategies; the individual ability of the students. Different student have different capabilities coupled with talents, skills and weaknesses. Some students in the course of learning study skills and time management, realize that they have additional educational problems such as examination anxiety or problems interrelated to poor stress management. Still, other students find out that they have a variety of problems that get in the way of their ability to concentrate academically and manage their time effectively. Again, such discoveries can be maddening in the short run, but in the long run they are good news, in the sense that once a problem has been defined; then it is well on the way to being resolved.
The students’ personality can also be a contributing aspect in the learning of the study skills. Two personality types that can be recognized are extraversion and introversion. It is important to discern that these types have nothing to do with intelligence or ability; these terms simply portray the way that different people function. And this has basically fostered greater understanding of the differences based on the individual abilities of students and how to improve on some of the underlying problems in order to streamline the process of learning study skills.
Gladen, N. (2008). College Student Study Distractions. Retrieved from http://www.suite101.com/content/college-student-study-distractions-a40475
Fleming, G. (n.d.). Noise Distraction. Retrieved from http://homeworktips.about.com/od/studymethods/a/noise.htm
Parker, R. (2006). Brain Performance. Retrieved from http://www.futurepundit.com/archives/003599.html
The College Board (n.d.). Time Management Tips for Students. Retrieved from http://www.collegeboard.com/student/plan/college-success/116.html