The SchoolWorks Lab EdSpeak: Research-based Studying Skills

Research-based Studying Skills

Daniel T. Willingham’s article in the New York Times (April 23, 2023), “There are Better Ways to Study That Will Last You a Lifetime,” shows us why well-trained teachers who use well-researched strategies are needed in K-12 schools.

Many students guess at those ways to study and choose a more general way, rather than a well-researched way, to study. The author cites an example where “over-studying” does not work as well as trying to recall what you have studied. Or another example where listening to speakers with the larger conclusions in mind helps students acquire a deeper learning of the material. These are all deeper learning strategies that are beginning to be used by teachers everywhere, but unfortunately, not uniformly. Deeper learning is not more uniformly used because for the last forty years of standardized testing, more shallow coverage of material is what testing has taught us to value.

GPT Experiment

So I thought we should run a quick experiment. I want to ask the GPT bot, which provides an Artificial Intelligence response, what it thinks of studying. When I asked GPT what are the best ways to study, this is what it said:

“There are various ways to study, and the most effective method will depend on your learning style and personal preferences. However, here are some general tips that may help:

  1. Set clear goals: Before you start studying, define what you want to achieve. Having clear goals will help you stay motivated and focused.
  2. Create a study schedule: Plan your study sessions in advance and try to stick to a consistent schedule. This will help you develop good study habits and make studying a regular part of your routine.
  3. Take breaks: It’s essential to take breaks regularly to avoid burnout and improve your ability to retain information. Try the Pomodoro technique, which involves working for 25 minutes, then taking a 5-minute break.
  4. Practice active recall: Don’t just read or listen to information; actively try to recall it. Quiz yourself or write down what you remember to help reinforce the information in your memory.
  5. Use different study techniques: Mix up your study methods to keep things interesting and engage different parts of your brain. Try taking notes, creating flashcards, watching videos, or explaining concepts to a friend.
  6. Get enough sleep: Adequate sleep is essential for learning and memory consolidation. Make sure to get enough rest so that your brain can process and retain the information you’re studying.
  7. Stay organized: Keep your study materials organized and tidy. This will help you stay focused and reduce distractions.

Remember that everyone’s learning style is different, so don’t be afraid to experiment with different techniques until you find what works best for you.”

CHAT GPT, Monday, April 24, 2023

So, the answers given above are very well organized at a more general level, but are not specific enough to be valued at a research level. For example, learning styles is under attack in academia, partially because it suggests that there might not be more uniform ways to study, but also because learning styles is more about the student and less about the deep learning that is needed.


So, the answers above made me refine my question to the ChatBot: What are the skills for lifelong learning?

“Lifelong learning is a continuous process of gaining knowledge and skills throughout one’s life. Some essential skills that can help individuals to succeed in lifelong learning are:

  1. Self-motivation: Being self-motivated is crucial to maintain the interest and drive to learn new things. This requires setting clear goals, being disciplined, and having a growth mindset.
  2. Time management: Effective time management skills are necessary to balance the demands of learning with other responsibilities and commitments. This includes setting priorities, creating a schedule, and avoiding procrastination.
  3. Critical thinking: Critical thinking skills involve analyzing information, evaluating arguments, and solving problems. It helps individuals to evaluate the validity and reliability of information and make informed decisions.
  4. Communication: Strong communication skills are necessary to articulate ideas and collaborate with others. This includes written and verbal communication skills, active listening, and the ability to express oneself clearly.
  5. Adaptability: The ability to adapt to new situations and environments is essential in lifelong learning. It involves being open to new experiences, being flexible, and being willing to learn from mistakes.
  6. Technology literacy: Technology is increasingly important in today’s world, and having basic technology skills is necessary for lifelong learning. This includes using computers, the internet, and other digital tools to access information, communicate, and collaborate with others.
  7. Resilience: Lifelong learning can be challenging, and setbacks are inevitable. Having resilience allows individuals to bounce back from setbacks, learn from failures, and stay motivated to achieve their goals.

These skills can help individuals to learn and grow throughout their lives and adapt to changing circumstances in their personal and professional lives.”

CHAT GPT, Monday, April 24, 2023

The ChatBot does better with the more refined question, but it still remains at a general level of skill definition, and I think we can see the real need for a research-based set of studying skills that are needed to be taught to teachers of K-12 students.

Dr. Robert A. Southworth, Jr.

Dr. Robert A. Southworth, Jr.

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