What’s the best way to learn in this age of iPads and smart phones?

Now that the academic year has started, a good set of “studying skills” will come in handy for students about to face a deluge of requirements, deadlines, and exams.

Studying skills refer to strategies vital in improving the learning process and, ultimately, getting good grades..

Cecille Ann Pilapil, a psychology professor from the College of Science, said reading is a fundamental ability because most students are visual learners. In this respect, media and internet and the latest gadgets can help improve the learning process.

“You have an iPad, iPod, music, and thinner laptops. Tools like these become accessible to people so you learn faster,” Pilapil said.

Read and understand

Although gadgets are effective tools in studying, a student must be able to understand the reading materials to check whether he or she has learned.

While reading is a cognitive process in which the brain decodes symbols the eyes perceive in order to derive the meaning of a text, understanding is the ability to grasp the meaning of a text and apply the acquired knowledge.

Pilapil said if a student reads a book but does not understand the material, then that student does not really study, prompting educators to resort into class recitations.

“You get into recitations to know if a student understands the lesson based on the examples presented by the student,” she said. “If the students give good examples, then you would know that they read and understand the topic very well.”

Pilapil said the use of highlighters is a useful technique for better learning and recall.

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Bob Kizlik, an education professor from the Florida Atlantic University, cited note-taking as an effective way of studying a student must develop.

“Almost invariably, note taking, or the lack of it, is a constant deficiency in the study methods of many high school and college students,” he said in his online article.

In note taking, a student extracts only the essential information and details from reading materials.

“The more important details you can identify, the easier it will be to review for examinations because you have made a link between an idea and information that supports it,” Kizlik said.

Students often lack focus in their studies resulting in procrastination and of course, cramming. “There are some students who study an hour before taking a quiz. For some [students], they study ‘one time, big time’ and it works for them. However, educational psychology says that you can really learn fast but it will not stay in your head,” Pilapil said.

She added that a student’s focus diminishes as he or she procrastinates and starts to cram. In effect, the academic performance and the grade of the student will not improve.

However, Pilapil said there is a method for students to stay focused.

“If you study [your lessons] diligently two hours every day, [for example] 10 minutes per notebook, then you call that distributed massed learning.”

“Distributed massed learning” suggests that if a student reviews a reading material every day within a specific period of time, the chances of learning and having long-term memory retention is high.

This method is ideal compared to studying lessons from different subjects without completely understanding the review materials.

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Holistic and value oriented

The holistic development of every student remains to be important. This is why college students are exposed to various subjects such as humanities, arts, sciences, mathematics, and even to physical education.

According to Pilapil, college students have to acquire different learning styles to achieve higher learning.

“You have to learn the basic general knowledge so that when you are exposed to things you’re not used to, [then] you already know what to do,” she said. “You obtain a general aptitude that gives you the ability to adapt to the things you think you do not know.”

Pilapil added that one must not hate a subject no matter how boring it is.

“[Maybe] not now, but someday you’ll use it,” she said.

The students’ values and interests are very essential for these are the “cores of studying” and the study skills just follow, Pilapil noted.

She emphasized that value orientation is an internal motivation for a student to improve his or her studies while the goals of the student are just part of the external motivation.

“Techniques and strategies go back to values,” Pilapil said. “Even if you have many study skills and techniques but you don’t study diligently, then you will still lack focus on your studies.”

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