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VII. Building Student Success

Building Good Study Habits

A critical factor in effective teaching is related to the teachers’ ability to build student confidence. Students who lack confidence have a problem in the classroom setting because of the acquisition of poor study habits. By the time students arrive at the secondary level of instruction, they have had years of classroom instruction and past instruction has resulted in shaping their ability to learn. Perhaps as many as fifty to sixty percent of your students may believe that they will have trouble succeeding in your class even before the school term begins.

This then begged the question” What can a teacher do to foster student’s confidence in their ability to achieve learning success in your classroom? There is an old adage that states: success builds success and failure builds failure. Some students at some point in their schooling simply give up and no longer try to succeed. One of the most important elements contributing to this problem is that many students do not know how to study and many do not have a clear understanding of what is expected of them. This recognition on behalf of the teacher is a beginning for development of strategies that are aimed at helping students to gain a new sense of confidence by building toward a higher level of student success.

The first step in this process is for the teacher to take time to help students learn how to study through a specific plan of study that is based on motivating students to improve their study time. This approach might begin by interviewing each student on a one-on-one exchange of ideas. This one-on-one exchange could become a routine time of sharing between the teacher and each student. For all students, this time is an opportunity to learn about individual study habits, but for low achieving students this exchange is critical to helping them improve their study habits. During this time, for example, one might discover that most low achieving students do not do a good job in reading their assignments. (The cause of this problem might be that some students have trouble reading at grade level.) Students not reading at grade level may need supplementary materials that parallel regular course materials.

All students would benefit from a teacher/student cooperative sharing program aimed at monitoring student study time. The goal of this program is to help students to learn how to improve their study habits and to help all students learn more about your specific expectations. (Many students are reluctant to ask questions related to how to study for your course.) For low achieving students, the transition from failure to success requires a planned instructional program that is dedicated to improving their study habits. Some students may not want this help, but most students are willing to change their study habits.

The following three strategies are designed to help students change or improve their study habits, which, in turn, are aimed at building student success. The three-strategy approach include: a strategy aimed at helping students implement reading the textbook on a day-by-day basis; a strategy aimed at taking better class notes; and, a strategy aimed at improving study habits for test taking. All three strategies are based on the following sequences:

Reading the Textbook (sequence)
1. Read the chapter
2. Read and highlight the chapter
3. Read and take notes on the chapter
4. Read and review notes on the chapter at least three to five times.

Building Good Note Taking Habits (sequence)
1. Ask for clarification in class each day
2. Type notes on each teacher presentation – rewrite notes
3. Check your notes for misunderstanding and ask for clarification
4. Combine lecture notes with reading notes into a general study outline

Building Test Taking Habits (sequence)
1. Allow ample study time for study – cramming is a bad habit
2. Study in isolation - NO distractions (music, phone, etc)
3. Expand the hours of study – at least ten hours
4. Partner with another student for clarification session
5. Over prepare - it reduces test anxiety

Over time the three-strategy approach is designed to build good study habits. Success using the three-strategy approach is designed to help all students to build a higher level of success and learning achievement.
1. Student confidence is a critically important factor in student learning and achievement.
2. Many students arrive at the secondary level of instruction with poor study habits, which must be changed through a planned program of instruction.
3. Teacher awareness of student study habits is critical to effective instruction, and this awareness is best determined through a one-on-one interview with individual students.
4. Students unable to read at grade level do not have access to course materials, and these students may need special attention and special parallel course materials.
5. All students can benefit from a cooperative teacher/student approach that is designed to monitor student study habits.
6. The three-strategy approach is one approach to addressing student study habits and can be used as a means to building student success.
7. The development of good study habits, such as the three-strategy approach described above, is a good basis for working with students cooperatively in the achievement of a greater self-confidence.
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