Studying is essential for college students to remember facts, understand material, and get the most out of their education, yet there aren’t courses in studying. Fortunately, there are ways you can help if students are exhibiting poor study skills.

Within lesson plans, before or after class and in office visits, teachers can encourage student engagement in study sessions. If you’re considering creating a new study session for students in your class, here are some classroom ideas to develop essential study skills and strategies on how to study for a test.

Importance of study sessions

Students may be stressing over their preparedness for class and worrying about attending a study session. Study sessions can relieve such stress by providing students a time and place where they can study together. Sessions take various forms but often allow students to:

  • review material together
  • read over difficult material
  • work with a tutor or instructor
  • review and compare notes
  • prepare for tests and test each other
  • practice in-class material
  • and generally help each other succeed.

Organize a study session

Make sure the location is conducive to studying, like the library, a classroom, or a lounge. A local public café may not be a good choice. Ask students to sign up for a study session for a particular time or times each week. This creates a sense of obligation so the student is more likely to show up and can schedule it around other events during the week. Provide a list of items students should bring, such as textbooks and class material, and make sure there is lab equipment, Internet access, audio/visual equipment, and anything else they will need to study with.

Create structure

Create a structure for the study session with concrete goals to achieve for each session, and stick to the structure to avoid distractions. For maximum recall, employ memory tricks so students grasp difficult concepts. “Encourage students to review previous course material as a part of a study session. Help students note patterns, connections, and relationships among ideas and concepts, not only to reinforce recall of important concepts, but also to highlight areas where comprehension and recall may be faulty,” wrote a contributor to All Kinds of Minds in “Being Active and Strategic: Impact of Attention, Memory, Sequential Ordering, and Higher Order Cognition.”

Encourage time management

If not properly supervised, study sessions can often devolve into hang outs for students. With electronics and social media, students can be easily distracted from the study portion of the study session. Time management and establishment of concrete goals can keep students on track. Students with successful time management skills have an edge up. “They use specific blocks of time to complete assignments, and they use the guidelines to schedule sufficient study blocks to meet the requirements of their courses. They get a sense of comfort, control, and confidence knowing that they have control of their time,” wrote author Linda Wong in her book Essential Study Skills, 8th ed.

Summarize material

At the end of the study session, summarize key points and concepts discussed. Make a schedule, an outline or plan, and create assignments for the next session.

Reference: Reference: Wong, Linda. 2015. Essential Study Skills, 8th ed.  Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.

What are some creative ways you’ve engaged students in a study session?