Patricia Chen says students must spend 15 minutes focusing on ‘study strategy’
Chen has created a survey that gets students to think about how they revise
Students that did the survey outperformed others by one-third of a letter grade
Those who did the survey twice did twice as well as those that did it just once
Parents will spend hard-earned cash and precious time to help their children succeed at school.
Now one Stanford researcher claims she has a 15-minute trick that could quickly help students improve their grades.
Professor Patricia Chen, a postdoctoral researcher social psychology researcher at Stanford, has created a survey that focuses revision time.
Students that did the survey before revising for an exam outperformed other students by one-third of a letter grade.
‘All too often, students just jump mindlessly into studying before they have even strategized what to use, without understanding why they are using each resource, and without planning out how they would use the resource to learn effectively’, Chen told Quartz.
In a new study between a week and ten days before a test, half a class of students took a 15-minute survey asking them to think about the grade they wanted to get and if they thought they could get it.
Those that took the survey outperformed the control group by one-third of a letter grade.
They were also asked to score how important they thought it was to get that grade.
The survey asked the universities students to think about what resources would help them achieve their goals – from lecture notes to practice exam questions to reading textbooks.
They were also asked about what they were doing that was not working at the moment and how they could improve on this.
Meanwhile the control group were just told they had an exam in a week.
The study was carried out on two classes – in the first class 84 students did the survey and 87 did not and in the second class 96 did the survey and 95 were in the control.
Both groups were academically the same before yet the group that did the 15-minute survey outperformed the control group by one-third of a letter grade.
Those who did the survey twice did twice as well as those that did it just once.
In two studies, students who strategized their resource use before studying outperformed comparable classmates.
‘Blind effort alone, without directing that effort in an effective manner, doesn’t always get you to where you want to go,’ Dr Chen said.
‘It’s not merely about using a greater number of resources for studying. The important point here is using resources more effectively’, she said.
Researchers suggest that this shows self-regulation and meta-cognition (which is awareness of one’s thought processes) is the secret to success.
‘We hypothesized that making students more self-reflective about how they should approach their learning with the resources available to them would improve their class performance’, researchers said in the paper, which is published in Psychological Science.
‘Students randomly assigned to the treatment condition reported being more self-reflective about their learning throughout the class, used their resources more effectively, and outperformed students in the control condition’, researchers said.
As well as doing better, researchers said students who took the test also felt less stressed about the exam.
The survey encouraged students to think about how they work. Here are some key questions to ask –
What grade do you want to achieve?
Do you think you can get it?
How important to you is it that you get this grade?
What is not working in your work at the moment?
How could you do it better?
Think about something you have done recently – how could you have done it better?
What resources do you have that might help you work better? (for example lecture notes, practice exam questions and textbooks)