New study shows that traditional studying techniques are ineffective
February 22, 2013
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According to TIME, a recent study led by Kent State University in January suggests techniques such as highlighting, summarizing and rereading are all ineffective study techniques. Despite these findings, however, U.S. history teacher Angela Egger-Enzmann said she disagrees with this assessment and even advocates these techniques.
“I encourage students to discover what learning techniques work best for them. Every student is different,” Egger-Enzmann said.
Tracy Hadden, social studies department chairperson and teacher, said she also believes there is not just one correct way to learn information and often observes these techniques and finds them to be successful in the classroom.
“There are a thousand different ways to present information to students,” Hadden said. “Everybody is smart in different ways. If (a teacher) has the opportunity to present information creatively, a teacher should do that, although sometimes traditional techniques work just as well.”
Junior Kim Tiberi, who has Egger-Enzmann as a teacher, said she regularly uses these techniques, especially in her English and social studies classes, and they often work for her.
“I think highlighting really helps emphasize the important things we actually need to know,” Tiberi said. “Teachers have always told me to do it, too.”
The study concluded that highlighting may hinder a student’s ability to understand the whole topic and make connections within the reading. It also suggested that summarizing, a method Egger-Enzmann said she tries to teach, is a useless skill unless done properly.
“Summarizing actually really helps me when it comes to history. I like knowing what is most important,” Tiberi said.
Hadden said delivering information to 30 or more students that are all different learners can be a struggle for teachers. She promotes the use of any type of learning technique that has proven successful for a student.
“Teachers are being pushed to mix up the way that they teach to improve the student’s understanding of a topic,” Hadden said.
Egger-Enzmann said she is always looking for new methods of teaching. One technique she uses is to have students draw their vocabulary words. She said while some students can hear or read information and then remember it, most students need a unique way to recall information.
According to Kent State’s research, the most effective study techniques include practice testing and flashcards, techniques Egger-Enzmann said she also uses, though not exclusively.
Junior Corynn Parham, also a student of Egger-Enzmann, said she finds the “effective” study techniques more useful.
“Sometimes it’s really helpful and smart to limit the information by highlighting or summarizing, but other times you need the whole picture to understand a concept,” Parham said.
Both Parham and Egger-Enzmann said practice testing is a reliable technique that can benefit students when it comes to taking an actual test. Egger-Enzmann said she believes practice can only benefit students. She uses reading quizzes, practice Document Based Questions (DBQs) and free writes to prepare students for when they are actually tested.
The study also discovered that cramming information the night before a test only allows the information to be remembered short term. This finding came as no surprise to Egger-Enzmann.
Hadden said that the worst way to study is only re-reading the learned information. She, like Kent State University, described this as passive learning and ineffective overall.
Egger-Enzmann said, “At the end of the day, all that matters is what the student does and does not know. True understanding of a topic is all that is important.”