Which study skills strategies can improve students’ academic performance?
Page 6: Materials Organization
No matter how much effort teachers spend organizing their rooms and creating places for items such as supplies and completed homework, some students—especially those with LD or ADHD—will struggle with keeping their desk, binders, lockers, and backpacks organized. Their inability to organize materials can be a major obstacle to academic success and often leads to frustration and panic. Although these students might think that they are organized, their systems are often flawed. For example, a student might put all returned papers into a single binder as soon as the teacher returns them. However, because this student has seven classes, the papers become jumbled and are difficult to access when studying for a test in a given subject. Or a student records the date of her next test on a post-it note and drops it into her overflowing purse. The act of recording the date of the test is a great start, but it is not useful if that note then goes missing and is not rediscovered until months later. Recall that Erin struggles with organization.
Listen as she discusses how this impeded her ability to turn in homework (time: 2:04).
Teachers can help students become more organized by teaching them strategies. One simple strategy is to teach students how to self-monitor their actions by using a checklist. As discussed previously, students can recall steps or a list of actions better if they are presented with a mnemonic (e.g., BAND). Initially, the teacher might want to provide the student with a cue card with the mnemonic and items listed (and possibly a checkbox beside each item), the use of which can gradually fade over time as the student becomes more fluent with the strategy.
- Thirty-seven fourth- through seventh-grade students with ADHD received an eight-week intervention targeting the organization of binders, book bags, and lockers. At the end of the period, the students demonstrated improved organizational skills in these areas.
(Langberg, Epstein, Urbanowicz, Simon, & Graham, 2008)
- Middle school students with ADHD who often were not prepared for class (i.e., being punctual, being ready for class [seated, eyes on teacher], and having supplies [paper, notebook, pen or pencil]) were taught how to self-monitor their actions by using a checklist and to self-evaluate how well they followed the behaviors on that checklist. On average these students were prepared for class less than 50% of the time prior to the intervention in comparison to an average of 100% after it.
(Gureasko-Moore, DuPaul, & White, 2007)
TipA checklist of what needs to be gathered for class or home or a to-do list of what work needs to be completed or turned in can help students to stay on track.
Because the inability to organize materials often is a stumbling block to academic success of some students and leads their frustration, it is often beneficial for the teacher to develop a mnemonic to help students remember the steps they should take to stay organized. Listed below are several areas in which students with weak organizational skills often struggle. Choose one area and develop a mnemonic to help the student improve their organizational strategies. Using this mnemonic, create a checklist for the student to use to make sure he or she has completed each step of the strategy.
- Desk or lockers
- Notebooks or binders (with the exception of BAND)
- Materials for class (e.g., homework, books)
- Materials for home