Study habits vary on subject, strategy - Purdue Exponent: Campus

Study habits vary on subject, strategy

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Posted: Wednesday, December 7, 2011 10:00 am

Many have heard the rule of thumb for studying in college: study for two hours for every hour spent in class. Research conducted from a Purdue professor has shown that this is a myth, but some professors still implement this general rule in their classes.

Some Purdue students are studying 30 to 40 hours a week and when Jeff Karpicke, assistant professor of psychological sciences, heard, he said he absolutely believes there is such a thing as spending too much time studying.

“It is possible that students can be spending a lot of time studying,” Karpicke said, “but whether that actually translates into good learning is a separate matter.”

Karpicke said time is not the key factor in effective study habits. Students can spend a lot of time studying and learn a little but can also spend little time studying and learn a lot.

“I think many students have an idea of how much time they should be spending, and some professors will tell students how much time they should spend studying,” he said. “Where a lot of students falter is, they don’t know what strategies to engage in, or they just don’t engage in the most effective strategies.”

Professor of civil engineering Roberto Jacko said he still expects students to put in a significant amount of study time and goes by the rule of thumb for how many hours students should be studying out of class.

“For students in a class that would meet on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I would expect them to study two hours for every hour spent in the class room, this would mean 6 hours a week,” he said.

Kinsey Rabourn, a sophomore in the College of Agriculture, said her chemistry professor gave her class a specific amount of hours expected out of the students to study every week.

“I don’t see how people find the time to study that much every week, especially with other classes and jobs,” she said.

Many of the students in the sample said they like studying alone better then when in groups. Karpicke said he doesn’t know what is the most effective strategy is. He said it depends on what the students are doing while studying.

Casey Cromer, a sophomore in the College of Agriculture, said her material depends on if she likes studying alone or with groups better.

“If it is a hard science I like to study alone, but if it is a liberal arts course, I think it is better to discuss the information,” she said.

According to Karpicke, there are many strategies that can improve people’s deep learning, the desired state for studying material. He said these strategies involve organizing knowledge and making meaningful connections.

“If you were to engage in an effective study strategy that took you basically 30 minutes a week for a particular course, then I wouldn’t see a reason to spend another two, three or four hours studying, if you have done everything that you really need to do in 30 minutes.”

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