View the movie below and then proceed to the Initial Thoughts section (time: 3:51).
Ms. Sano [narrating]: Like every week, there’s always so much to think and write about for these reflections in my master’s class. But today I want to focus on something new, a challenge that’s really got me reconsidering some of the things I’ve been doing in my classroom. It involves helping my students to improve their study skills.
I’ll be honest, for a long time I’ve thought of study skills strategies as something that high school students just know. I’m pretty sure that many of my fellow teachers feel the same way. By the time they reach high school, students should have learned how to study effectively. If they put forth effort, they’ll probably get good grades. If they don’t, they probably won’t. Simple, right?
Well, maybe it’s not so simple after all. A couple of weeks ago, one of my students, Gina, let me watch the “day in the life of the school” project she’d been working on. What an eye-opener that turned out to be! Two of Gina’s friends—Erin and Kyra, both of whom are also in my communications class—really struggle with their study skills in ways I never anticipated. Kyra, for example, has trouble remembering what’s she’s studied, even after she goes over it again and again. She often seems engaged and interested in class, too, so it’s easy to overlook the fact that she’s having trouble retaining the material.
Erin, on the other hand, has significant organizational issues. She studies and does her homework. And does it. And does it. That’s right. I’ve learned that Erin will sometimes complete the same homework numerous times because she loses track of where she’s put it and has to do it again. I admit that’s not something I ever thought about as a possibility.
And Kyra and Erin aren’t the only ones either. After thinking some more about Gina’s project, I started looking more closely at my students. It appears that a good number of them struggle in one way or another with studying.
Of course, many students learn these skills in the earlier grades. I’m thinking of students like Hannah, one of my high-achievers. Some of them might even have been explicitly taught study skills, but I’m willing to bet that most just kind of “picked them up” somehow. But for one reason or another quite a few of them never did, and after speaking to Ms. Flemming, who teaches geography, I’m beginning to understand that all students, even students like Hannah, can benefit from some instruction on specific strategies.
When students perform poorly, we teachers often believe that it’s because they haven’t been studying hard enough. And maybe in the past, I did believe that, but not anymore. I want to help all of my students—especially those with learning difficulties like Erin and Kyra—to study and work more effectively. The only problem is, I’m not sure yet how to go about doing that. They’re all so different.
Here’s your Challenge:
Is it the responsibility of teachers to teach study skills strategies? Explain your response.
Which study skills strategies can improve students’ academic performance?