In a recent article in Faculty Focus by Dr. Maryellen Weimer, we are reminded to help our students discover how to study most effectively for higher education. Often we hear students complain about a low grade they received in a class and in the same breath assert that they “came to class” every time, made index cards, highlighted the textbook and “reviewed” their class notes. These are cues that they are relying on passive learning behaviors – or, what Weimer calls “surface” learning approaches. So, how do we encourage active learning behaviors that will lead to these kinds of “deep” learning approaches?
- I wrote my own study questions.
- I tried to figure out the answer before looking it up.
- I closed my notes and tested how much I remembered.
- I broke down complex processes step-by-step.
These activities can work very effectively in peer groups, especially if that group is diverse and motivated to excel. Some peer-led study groups for UK’s introductory courses are already set up at The Study here on campus, or you can recommend a study table of their own making. Another idea is to offer free and accessible groups online in international settings that will foster deep learning strategies:
- Open Study – http://openstudy.com/
see more about it here in the article “Make the World your Study Group“
- The Study Barn – http://www.studybarn.com/AboutUs/
Some other ideas are to join in the very large enrollment open course initiatives and find (or create your own) study groups there (read an article on how all this is currently happening). Some of the most innovative ones that encourage interactions between their learners are:
- Carnegie Mellon’s Open Learning Initiative – http://oli.cmu.edu/learn-with-oli/
- The Learning Space in the Open University (United Kingdom) – http://openlearn.open.ac.uk/
- UnCollege – http://www.uncollege.org/resources/
- An online community for math/science study groups using Khan Academy resources – http://tutorgroups.wordpress.com/
- Students who take Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) offered by such organizations as MITx, edX or Coursera will start their own study groups in Google+ or Facebook – here’s an example of a study group for a Gaming course: http://blog.coursera.org/post/31598778988/gamification-study-group-at-jaaga-in-bangalore
As Weimer put it: “It is terribly important that in explicit and concerted ways we make students aware of themselves as learners. We must regularly ask, not only ‘What are you learning?’ but ‘How are you learning?’ We must confront them with the effectiveness (more often ineffectiveness) of their approaches. We must offer alternatives and then challenge students to test the efficacy of those approaches. We can tell them the alternatives work better but they will be convinced if they discover that for themselves.”
The only limit is your students’ own imaginations. There are so many ways for them to learn how to study for deep learning. Have some good stories to share? Please add your own ideas in the comments area below.