Learn How to Study and SOAR to Success
You’ve heard it repeatedly throughout your academic life: “Study for the test.” Sure, that directive has taken many forms. Perhaps your biology teacher said, “Big quiz Tuesday. Be sure you study.” Maybe your history teacher said, “Know your names and dates for the midterm.” Or, your psychology instructor might have said, “Review your lecture notes for the test on cognitive development.” Whatever is said, you’ve been instructed or advised repeatedly to study for tests. But, who’s taught you how to study? Who’s taught you how to record a good set of notes and how to review the~? Probably no one. Schools teach content such as math and science but rarely teach students how to study that content. Isn’t it odd that you’ve been in school this long, been expected to study since elementary school, but never been taught how to study?
So, how have you studied all this time? If you’re like most students, you’ve studied using one or more of the RE-dundant study strategies such as RE-reading, RE-copying, RE-citing … , RE-diculous! You’ll learn here that redundant strategies don’t work very well. But you probably know this already. You’ve melodically recited the “Star Spangled Banner” with others hundreds of times. Try reciting it now, out loud, on your own. You’ve perhaps reread certain prayers hundreds of times. Try recalling them now from memory. You’ve certainly reviewed a dollar bill thousands of times. Try describing that bill now. Not so easy, huh? Redundant strategies are RE-diculous .
How should you study, then? This book, Learn How to Study and SOAR to Success, answers that question. It teaches you how to prepare an effective set of study notes and what to do with them. The SOAR acronym makes it easy to remember the steps:
S Select Information
0 Organize Information
A Associate Information
R Regulate Learning
The SOAR steps are also easy to follow. Selecting information means recording a complete set of notes. Organizing information means constructing representations that reveal at a glance relationships among ideas. Associating information means drawing relationships among the ideas being learned, and relating ideas being learned. to ideas ~ady in m~mory. And, regulating learning means generating and answenng practice test questions like those expected on the test.
Well, what makes SOAR so good or makes this study skills book better than other books? First, it provides a complete system for how to study-from note taking through test preparation. Other books provide you with an endless array of chapters and topics that never reveal a clear study process. This text teache. you how to study.
Second, this book is based on sound psychological theory and research. Many other books are not. Those familiar with educational psychology will recognize ideas such as constructivism, metacognition, structural knowledge, attribution theory, information processing, and self-regulated learning, even though those very terms might not appear in this book . You’ll notice the application of research on note talcing, knowledge representation, organization, elaboration, mnemonic s, selftesting, and intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.
Moreover, I often pull from my own experiences as a researcher who has investigated note taking, studying, and knowledge representations for 20 years, and from my experiences directing an academic support center and teaching study skills classes. Many other study skills books are written by folks who teach classes in this area but who lack a scientific foundation.
But don’t get the idea that you’ll be bombarded here with theory and overwhelmed with research citations. Neither is visible. Theory and research are seamlessly woven throughout the book’s ideas. A brief list of supplemental readings appears at the end of the book for those who wish to probe further.
Third, SOAR focuses on knowledge representations. My colleague Nelson DuBois and I developed and researched a simple system for representing inform ation.
Our representation system, covered in Chapter 3, helps you organize information and learn relationships within that information. Without such a system, students typically learn information in a disjointed, piecemeal fashion-one idea at a time-never noting how the ideas relate. The representation system is the cornerstone of the SOAR study system. Once you organize notes into representation s, you then use those representations to create associations and to generate and answer practice test questions. One reviewer wrote: “Chapter 3 is the heart of the book. This chapter alone is worth the price of admission.”
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