In a recent poll conducted by AlphaStudent to determine the study approach used by students, 72% of students say they study using the reading-highlighting-rereading approach.
I know that doing something again and again the same way is comforting. But the standard reading-highlighting-rereading approach to studying and learning is almost a complete waste of time. There are a few problems with this study approach. To list just some of its problems:
Though you feel as if you’re busy “studying,” passing your eyes over the text repeatedly, you’re not really doing anything; that is, you’re not doing any thinking. Trying to learn this way is about as active as watching television. If you ever have trouble concentrating while studying, it’s because you’re not doing any active thinking that engages your mind with the material.
Reading and rereading is by definition monotonous. And if you repeat information often enough, chances are that not only will you fail to understand it but it will become meaningless.
The standard approach to learning – reading and rereading – isn’t an efficient way to memorize facts, much less to understand them. Studying this way ignores the way your mind works. For instance, try saying a word over and over—eventually it becomes meaningless!
It’s Not Practicing Anything Important.
If you want to improve at football, practice football. If you want to improve your piano playing, practice playing the piano. You aren’t practicing understanding when you highlight your textbook mechanically and reread your notes endlessly. What you are practicing is highlighting and reading; unfortunately, you will not be tested on how well you do these things.
The problem isn’t you, it’s your approach. The challenge is finding a learning method that puts you in control of the process, keeps you interested and engaged in the material you’re studying, and produces genuine understanding!
Do you agree? What other study methods do you employ that has worked for you in the past? Tell me about it in the comments below.