Every student will define the “ideal study space” in a different manner. Some may appreciate the solitude of a carrel desk on the top floor of your campus library; some may know of a cafe that offers an undisturbed nook (and free refills); others may enjoy a peaceful park setting (weather permitting). Regardless of where, precisely, that study space is, it needs to offer an environment that presents minimal distractions and allows them to concentrate on their studies.
Though many of your students may already have a favorite study space, others may have trouble identifying the place that best suits their needs and their temperaments. To help your students decide upon their ideal study space, encourage them to think through these questions, which are based on an exercise found in Carolyn H. Hopper’s Practicing College Learning Strategies, Sixth Edition. Using these questions, they can evaluate and compare two different spaces. Suggest that students discuss their observations with their fellow students. You might also offer your own experiences and recommendations: perhaps you know of places on campus that offer a quiet spot for studying, or you have your own list of “do’s and don’ts” that might guide your students towards finding a suitable space of their own. If you teach an online class, you might want to open a discussion thread that gives students the opportunity to chat about how and where they choose to study.
How to spot an ideal study space
1. Note the place and time you studied today.
2. Did you observe any visual distractions (e.g. a television turned to a sports game or news program; people engaging in other activities; a significant amount of foot traffic)?
3. Did you encounter any auditory distractions (e.g., conversation from nearby study groups; sound from others’ headphones; a noisy elevator or vending machine; a person on his or her cell phone…)?
4. Were you distracted by anything else in that space (e.g., the space was too hot or too cold; the light was too dim or bright…)?
5. List the reasons you believe this would make a good place to study. (Hopper, 171-172)
Reference: Hopper, Carolyn H. 2013. Practicing College Learning Strategies, 6th Ed. Boston, MA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
What kind of recommendations would you make to students who are seeking an ideal study space? Any other recommendations for exam time? Share and discuss your ideas below.