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Study Skills: Beyond Memorization

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Study Skills: Beyond Memorization. Studying for Memorization. When most students prepare for an exam, they focus on memory . They focus on the questions: How much can they remember? How accurately can they remember? They may use flashcards or test themselves on vocabulary terms.

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studying for memorization
Studying for Memorization
  • When most students prepare for an exam, they focus on memory. They focus on the questions:
    • How much can they remember?
    • How accurately can they remember?
  • They may use flashcards or test themselves on vocabulary terms.
  • If they do poorly on an exam, many students feel like they didn’t remember enough, or that they didn’t remember accurately.
a problem with studying for memorization
A Problem with Studying for Memorization
  • A key problem with studying for memorization is that most instructors don’t test for memorization.
  • They often ask more difficult questions that require students to apply terms to specific situation or compare and contrast different terms.
  • This means that a student who studied definitions is not well-prepared to answer the instructor’s test questions.
memorization isn t bad
Memorization Isn’t Bad
  • Memorization is not a bad skill; indeed, students do need to memorize some terms.
  • However, students do need to go beyond memorization in order to do well on college-level exams.
thinking skills
Thinking Skills

Below, you will see a scale of different thinking skills. They are ordered from least to most difficult

  • Remembering: Students can define a concept.
  • Understanding: Students can explain a concept to others.
  • Applying: Students can use the concept in a different situation.
  • Analyzing: Students can distinguish this concept from other, similar concepts.
  • Evaluating: Students are able to make good judgments about the concept.
  • Creating: Students can construct new information based on the concept.
sample apartheid
Sample: Apartheid
  • Step 1: Remembering
  • First, we must find the definition of “apartheid,” which is: “the former policy of the South African government designed to maintain the separation of Blacks and other non-Whites from the dominant Whites.”
  • Next, we must memorize this term. We might, for example, use a flashcard with the word “apartheid” on one side and the definition on the other.
  • Then, we might use our flashcards over several study sessions to make sure we’ve remembered the term.
step 2 understanding
Step 2: Understanding
  • Unfortunately, many student stop at the memorization step. To really have a command of the term, we must work our way through several steps.
  • In order to understand the information, students must be able to explain “apartheid” in their own words to someone else. They should also be able to answer “why” questions, such as “Why did the South African government institute apartheid?”
step 2 sample
Step 2 Sample
  • Apartheid is a system the South African government used to use. Its purpose was to separate whites from non-whites. Its purpose was to give the white population greater power by restricting the movement of people of color and preventing them from voting.
step 3 applying
Step 3: Applying
  • In order to apply information, students must be able to use their knowledge in a new situation.
step 3 sample
Step 3 Sample
  • Below, you will see a quote by Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black President and a major opponent of apartheid.
  • To apply our knowledge, we explain how Mandela’s quote relates to apartheid.

“I dream of an Africa which is in peace with itself.”

step 3 sample continued
Step 3 Sample (continued)
  • Mandela’s quote relates to apartheid because it discusses groups within one geographical location fighting one another. In the case of apartheid, we would think specifically about South Africa and the struggles between the white and non-white population.

“I dream of an Africa which is in peace with itself.”

step 4 analyzing
Step 4: Analyzing
  • To analyze, we must be able to distinguish between our concept and other, similar concepts.
  • We should also be able to break the concept into parts and explain what those parts mean.
step 4 sample
Step 4 Sample
  • Here, we might ask, “how is apartheid different from segregation in the U.S.?”
step 5 evaluating
Step 5: Evaluating
  • In order to evaluate, you must be able to make judgments about the concept.
  • You should be able to answer questions like, “Can I determine the best rationale, plan, solution, given the information?”
step 5 sample
Step 5: Sample
  • For our sample concept, “apartheid,” you’ll want to ask more challenging questions than “is apartheid bad?”
  • Instead, consider questions like, “how did apartheid damage interracial relations in South Africa?”
step 6 creating
Step 6: Creating
  • Students can blend the concept with other information, generating their own thoughts, ideas, viewpoints, and positions.
  • Creating is focused on originality.
  • Isn’t necessarily an art project, like “write a story about apartheid.”
step 6 sample
Step 6 Sample
  • You can create knowledge through a variety of questions or projects, such as:
    • Watch the film District 9. To what extent is the film a metaphor for apartheid?
    • Compare/contrast apartheid to another system of racial segregation. Which system was more damaging for oppressed groups?
    • What is the best way for healing racial tensions after the abolition of apartheid?
  • After completing all six steps, we have a much deeper understanding of apartheid. We’d have an easier time answering questions about apartheid on a test or writing an essay on the topic.
  • Memorization of the definition of apartheid is an important first step in learning about the concept, but we require further, deeper study to have significant comprehension.