At the beginning of the year—and at the beginning of a new term—it’s natural for students to start thinking about how they might maintain or improve their success in college.
To hone their college success skills, students might ask their peers what they’re doing to “raise the bar” academically. It’s also instructive for students to consider some steps they could take, but haven’t yet implemented.
In an effort to understand students’ study habits—and with a desire to share these insights with you and your students—we recently sent out the latest version of our Student Engagement Insights survey. Among the many questions posed in the survey, we asked: “Beyond completing assigned coursework (e.g. readings and homework), what steps do you take to ensure that you succeed in a class?” Nearly twenty thousand students responded. Below, we talk about their answers and outline some tips that can help your students adopt some of these strategies for success.
The top three steps students take to ensure college success
1. Reviewing lecture notes. By far, the most students (83%) told us that reviewing lecture notes was a key strategy for college success—which shows the value that they place on your lectures!
Not only do lecture notes make excellent study tools, the very act of taking those notes can help students stay engaged in class. To help them make the most of the time they spend listening to your lectures, give them these note-taking tips, which foster active listening and help students become more proficient note takers.
2. Using online resources, such as ungraded practice quizzes. Of the responding students, 63% said that they use quizzes and other online tools as part of their overall study strategy. Tools like these allow them to refresh their memory before heading into a class session or test their knowledge before going into an exam.
Do online quizzes, study guides, flashcards, or other digital study tools accompany your course’s reading materials, or are they incorporated into your course’s digital learning solution? If so, make a point to draw students’ attention to those tools on your syllabus or course website. (Students can find online study tools for many Cengage Learning products on CengageBrain.) If your text is not accompanied by these types of materials, consider building your own quizzes or ask colleagues if they’ve created resources that they’re willing to share.
3. Creating and reviewing reading notes. Slightly more than half (56%) of the responding students said that they create and review reading notes to help ensure their success in their classes. If students take notes while reading, they can jot down important points from the text, while also reflecting on and thinking critically about the points that the authors are making.
Want to help your students take effective notes on their reading assignments? Offer these reading strategies. which will boost their understanding and retention of your course’s reading material.
Which success strategies were least prevalent among students?
The following three study strategies ranked the lowest on our survey. However, that doesn’t mean that they’re less valuable or effective!
If your students are in search of new strategies that will enable them to achieve their academic goals, ask them if they’ve considered any of the following:
1. Visiting a tutor. A quarter (25%) of students told us that they do visit a tutor. However, many more students may benefit from the personalized support, guidance, and training that a tutor can provide in a one-on-one or small-group setting.
In addition to training students on specific skills related to a particular course or subject area, tutors can show them how to develop a range of study skills that can be applied in future courses. Do you have students who could benefit from this kind of support? Direct them to your school’s academic support center, and provide them with these suggestions, which will help them make the most of the time they spend with a tutor.
2. Creating “self-tests” for personal use. Only 22% of our responding students said that they create self-tests as a means of reinforcing their understanding of course concepts. However, perhaps more of them would take the time to “test themselves” if they knew the difference it could make towards their grades: Research shows that self tests can play a strong role in students’ success in your class!
3. Asking the librarian for help finding more information. A mere 10% of students said that asking a librarian for assistance is among their set of college success strategies. However, academic librarians are ready and more than willing to share their expertise, guiding them to the information that will help them succeed in their classes.
Hoping to help your students see the value in this rich on-campus (and online!) resource? Read our post “Encouraging Use of the College Library for Academic Success” to discover some simple ways to prompt your students to take advantage of all the resources the library has to offer.
For additional tips to share with your class, read our post “Five Secrets of Successful College Students.” Then, tell us about your own strategies for student success in the comments section!