If you’ve spent any time at all on YouTube
looking for study advice, then you’ve probably come across this video called Study Less,
Study Smart. This is a recorded lecture from Professor Dr. Marty Lobdell, who is a former
psychology professor at Pierce College, and wanted to give his thoughts on how to be an
effective student. The video came out when I was a sophomore in college, and I wanted
to watch it, but the problem was, it was an entire hour long. I could just never make
the time. I’ve seen a lot of students say the exact
same thing about the video, so what I want to do with this video is try to give you about
80-90% of the value packed within the lecture, in about 1/10th of the time. To do that, I
first watched the lecture myself, and took detailed notes on it. If you want those notes,
I’ve actually included them at the end of this video. But first, let’s get into the
tips. Tip number 1 is to break your studying into
chunked sessions. The reason for this is that the average student can only really pay attention
for about 25-30 minutes. This goes across the board, from lectures, to reading, to studying.
After about 25-30 minutes, your efficiency starts to really taper off, and that’s why
the advice to simply study more is not effective at all. Instead, you want to break your study
sessions into about 20-30 minute chunks, and after those are done, take 5 minute breaks
where you do something fun, or at least away from your studies.
Also, once your study sessions are done for the entire day, you want to give yourself
a real, tangible reward for doing it. As Dr. Lobdell says in the lecture, reinforcement
of positive things builds good study habits, and as an added benefit, you’re training yourself
to study. As you keep doing this, you’re going to able to study for longer and longer on
each session. Tip number 2 is to create a dedicated study
area. The reason for this is that our environment, the context that we’re in, largely determines
our behavior. Think about when you’re in class. When the professor presents a question to
the entire class, you instinctively raise your hand. But if he asks you specifically,
you’re going to give a verbal response. This is automatic. You’re conditioned to do it.
Well, your studying area is the exact same. If you do it in a place where you’re conditioned
to do other things, like sleep, or play video games, or hang out with friends, it’s going
to be really hard to get into your studying. What you want to do is find an area that is
specifically used for studying, so the context of the situation makes it easy for you to
get into your studies. Dr. Lobdell’s third tip is to study actively,
and it’s best summed up with this quote, straight from the lecture: The more active you are
in your learning, the more effective you’ll be. The best way to do this, rather than going
through rote memorization, or reading and rereading chapters from your book, is to first
ask yourself, before studying, what is it that I’m learning?
What you’re learning is going to fall into 1 of 2 categories, either facts or concepts.
A concept is something like, what does this particular bone in the human body do? You
have to understand it. A fact is just something you need to remember. What the name of this
bone is. Concepts are more important than facts, because once you learn a concept, once
you truly understand its inner workings, it’s with you forever. You’re going to remember
it. Facts, on the other hand, can sort of drift away over time, and the good thing about
that is that we have Google. We can look up facts very easily. Unfortunately, in a testing
situation in class, you have to remember both facts and concepts, and you don’t have access
to Google, usually, but still, concepts are going to be more important to learn first.
The best way to learn these concepts and to be sure you know them is to put them in your
own words. Test yourself and learn actively. There’s one thing he gives as an example,
which I think is one of the most important parts from the entire lecture, and it’s his
example about highlighting. Most students know not to highlight entire sections of the
book, because if you do that, you’re basically highlighting nothing at all. But if you highlight
really important terms, and then you go back after your first read and highlight session,
and study them, and just simply recognize the thing you highlighted before, and say,
“Oh, I know it,” then you’re getting into this dangerous territory where you don’t know
whether you’re actually recalling something, or simply recognizing it.
The human brain is very good at recognizing things. We can recognize people’s faces, even
if we haven’t seen them in a long time. But the difference between recognition and recollection
is that recognition requires an initial trigger, a cue. If you’re in a test, there is no trigger
or cue. You have to actually pull it forth from your memory. To test and make sure that
you’re actually recalling something, instead of just recognizing it, you need to quiz yourself.
You need to do active studying and active learning.
The 4th tip is to take more effective notes, and he’s really brief on this one. Basically,
he says, after class, as soon as possible, and truly as soon as possible, flesh out your
notes a bit. Add some more to them so you can actually solidify the concepts on your
mind. If you’re fuzzy on something, ask another classmate who also took good notes, or go
to office hours, or wait until the next lecture and ask the professor before he starts if
he can clarify something that you don’t really have a good grasp on.
The 5th tip is to summarize or teach what you learned. He says the best way to actually
learn something is to teach it. The reason for this is two fold. Number 1, it’s a great
form of active studying, because you’re forcing your brain to recall all the information so
you can basically summarize it for somebody. Number 2, you’re really making sure that you
fully understand the subject. If you’re explaining it to somebody who has absolutely no idea
about the the topic, and they’re coming at it from a beginner’s perspective, then you’re
really going to have an easy time of pinpointing gaps in your own understanding.
Tip number 6 is to use your textbooks correctly. In this part of the lecture, he goes over
the SQ3R method, which stand for survey, question, read, recite, and review. As I talked about
in my active reading video, I think overarching systems like this are actually kind of cumbersome
and time consuming. But I do think it’s important that you take individual portions of these
systems and see if they’re worth it for your studying methods. As an example, the survey
portion of SQ3R, surveying the chapter before you read it, and especially going to the end
and looking at the review questions and the vocabulary, can really prime your brain for
picking out the most important information when you actually do the reading.
Dr. Lobdell’s 7th and final tip is to use mnemonics when studying facts. Now, facts,
as opposed to concepts, are a lot harder to tie actual meaning to, and as a result, a
lot of students often turn to simple rote memorization to remember them, but a better
way to go about it is to use mnemonics. A mnemonic is really any system that facilitates
recall, but he goes over 3 specific types of mnemonics in the video. Those 3 are acronyms,
things like Roy G. Biv for remembering the color spectrum, coined sayings, things like,
in 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue, and the third one, which both I and Dr. Lobdell
think is the best one, image associations. Another way to think about image associations
are just interacting images, including the thing you’re trying to study, that create
a ridiculous picture or story in your head. The more emotionally evocative or weird it
is, the more easily you’re going to be able to recall that piece of information.
That is my summary of Dr. Lobdell’s lecture. If you want to see the entire hour long video,
I have it linked down in the description. Otherwise, you can get my notes and other
things in the end card. Thanks for watching this video, and I will see you in the next
one. Hey guys, thanks for sticking around to the
end of my video. If you want to get even more study tips, I made a video about advanced
study tips last week, and you can see those by clicking the thumbnail. Also, if you want
to get new study tips every single week, and ways to be an awesome college student, then
just click the big, red subscribe button, right there. As I said in this video, you
can get the detailed notes on the entire lecture by clicking the orange button to go to the
companion blog post for this video. Also, if you want to become an awesome study-er,
I wrote a hundred plus page book on how to get better grades, and you can get it for
free by clicking the picture of the book. Lastly, if you want to connect with me, or
have ideas for new videos, you can either connect with me on Twitter @Tom Frankly, or
just leave a comment on this video.