An Effective Study Cycle

Saundra Yancy McGuire advises students to consider a Study Cycle of intense study sessions. (If you have consulted with the Office of Teaching & Learning, you’ve been introduced to the concept of self-testing as study.)

The five steps to the study cycle include:

  1. Preview
  2. Attend Class
  3. Review
  4. Intense Study Sessions
  5. Assess
Previewing involves reviewing learning outcomes for a lecture or module that allows you to see the big picture and figure out how what you will learn fits together. Attending class is critical because you can transform that into study time, engaging with the material in a number of different ways instead of passively listening. “As soon as possible after class, (you) should undertake … review of (your) notes, recalling what happened in class and explaining it to (yourself) (a phenomenon called elaborative rehearsal) ….”

“Intense study sessions can be as short as 15-20 minutes … or as long as 75-90 minutes though 50-60 minutes is a typical duration.”

During those sessions:

  1. Set specific goals.
  2. Do active learning tasks. (Need help with this? Contact the Office of Teaching & Learning.)
  3. Take a break/have a reward.
  4. Review.
Then track your progress and determine how to adjust the approach to best serve you as a learner.

McGuire, S.Y. (2015). Teach Students How to Learn: Strategies You Can Incorporate into Any Course to Improve Student Metacognition, Study Skills, and Motivation. Stylus: Sterling, Va.

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