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This is a topic of great interest to me. I hope the input and discussion
continues. Barbara Kirkwood brings up an excellent point in that students
freely admit they are not "good" at math or are not "good" writers and yet
have difficulty admitting they do not know how to read well or think
critically. Nic Voge points out the fact that students seeking help often
incorrectly present the issue. I particularly appreciate Lucy McDonald's
discipline-specific approach to reading assistance. I would, however,
suggest we consider an additional factor: students, in general, do not
understand the meaning of STUDY,  the attached variables (study skills
strategies), or that there are different ways to approach studying
(course-specific ways). For example, math study skills strategies are
different than history study skills strategies. 

At the beginning of each term, we survey students enrolled in classes
supported with SI and tutoring. The survey is a brief questionnaire (6
questions) asking students to explain how they study and how much time
(hours per week) they put into their studies. The last 2 survey questions
ask students what grade they want and what grade they expect for the course.


Over the years, our survey analyses never cease to amaze me. Nearly 100% of
those surveyed say they want to get an A or B and they expect to get an A or
B in the course. (I believe they are sincere-all want to do well). The red
flags come with their answers to the other questions, as these same students
indicate they devote only 1 or 2 hours of study per week to each course and
utilize very few study skills strategies. The majority of students respond
as such-
*	They rarely take notes during class
*	Even if they take notes during class, they don't read/review their
notes (certainly not within 24 hours of the lecture)
*	When taking notes, most simply copy what's on the board or in ppt-no
one listens to what the instructor is saying
*	Those attentive during lectures assume they will simply remember
everything (and then are surprised when they don't test well)
*	Very few compare their lecture notes with notes from their textbook
reading
*	No one attempts to develop potential test questions, based on
readings and lecture-that's just too hard when you don't know the subject
material
*	Discussion of course material outside of class is nil
*	Only students with multiple heads develop study activities such as
flash cards and matrices
*	Few review or consult the course syllabus after the first day of
classes
*	Some still skip the first day because the can't be concerned with
the course logistics 
*	Many don't want to "bother" the instructor during office hours to
ask questions or get advice
*	Too many do not read the assigned chapers before class because it's
too difficult to read 80+ text pages in one hour's time
*	Rarely do students put together a time management/study schedule
*	Cramming still appears to be the popular mode of study-many, many
students do not even crack the text until days before an exam

We use the same survey when conducting course-specific Study Skills
Workshops. These workshps offer us an opportunity to talk to students and
get a more indepth look at their study habits, as well as their true
feelings about studying.  

Spring 2009, we will add one last survey question, a rhetorical question
which follows those regarding grade expections: How do you plan to do this?
We don't expect students to answer this question outright, but rather hope
it will help them set the stage, so to speak, formulating a plan for
success.

sal 

		
		



 

Sara L. Weertz
Director, Supplemental Instruction
Contact Information <http://www.angelo.edu/dept/si/contacts.html> 



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