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Active Learning Strategies. Or, how to study when you have a lot to learn and remember in a short period of time. What is memory?. Learning that sticks!. How quickly we forget . Review, Review, Review. Many Students Learn by Rote. Involves verbatim memorization

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active learning strategies

Active Learning Strategies

Or, how to study when you have a lot to learn and remember in a short period of time

what is memory
What is memory?

Learning that sticks!

many students learn by rote
Many Students Learn by Rote
  • Involves verbatim memorization

(which is easily forgotten)

  • Cannot be manipulated or applied to novel situations

(e.g. remembering phone numbers, dates, names, etc.)

many students do not accurately judge their learning
Many Students Do Not Accurately Judge their Learning
  • They base their learning on what’s in short term memory
  • They don’t test their learning
  • They’ve never engaged in an activity that would show them that they are overestimating their learning
what s active learning
What’s active learning?

Activities and strategies that we use to improve our memory so we can retrieve what we’ve learned.

learning sticks better when you make a mental map
Learning Sticks Better When You Make a Mental Map
  • These mental maps- also known as schema –are actual electro-chemical connections that you grow in your brain.
  • When you think and organize the information you are trying to learn you
    • Make it easier to learn
    • Faster to learn it
    • Give yourself a way self test that you’ve learned it.
textbooks and lectures are organized around thought patterns
Textbooks and lectures are organized around thought patterns
  • Understanding this can help you improve your:

reading comprehension

selection of study strategy

ability to predict what will be on a test

  • Basic Active Learning Strategy – Always figure out the thought pattern underlying what you are learning.
academic thought patterns
Academic Thought Patterns
  • Order or Sequence
  • Comparison and contrast
  • Cause and Effect
  • Classification
  • Problem-Solution
  • Definition
  • Listing
  • Mixed

This pyramid depicts the different levels of thinking we use when learning. Notice how each level builds on the foundation that precedes it. It is required that we learn the lower levels before we can effectively use the skills above.

Bloom’s Taxonomy


Graduate School

Making decisions and supporting views; requires understanding of values.

Combining information to form a unique product; requires creativity and originality.


Identifying components; determining arrangement, logic, and semantics.



Using information to solve problems; transferring abstract or theoretical ideas to practical situations. Identifying connections and relationships and how they apply.


Restating in your own words; paraphrasing, summarizing, translating.


High School

Memorizing verbatim information. Being able to remember, but not necessarily fully understanding the material.


Louisiana State University  Center for Academic Success  B-31 Coates Hall  225-578-2872 

study strategies gold nugget
Study Strategies Gold Nugget
  • The Study Cycle with

Intense Study Sessions*

*Adapted from method developed by Frank L. Christ


The Study Cycle . . .

Learning System

Phase One: Preview chapters to be covered in class… before class (Create note structure).

Phase Two: Attend Class. Listen actively, take notes, participate in class.

Phase Three: Review and process class notes as soon possible after class.

Phase Four: Incorporate Intense Study Sessions.



Intense Study Sessions

  • 2 - 5 minutes: Set goals for next 40 minutes.
  • 30 - 40 minutes: Accomplish the goals.

Read text more selectively/highlight.

  • Make doodles/notes in margins.
  • Create mnemonics, work examples.
  • Create concept maps.
  • 10 minutes Review what you have just studied.
  • 10 minutes Take a break.
  • Repeat
get the most out of homework
Get the Most Out of Homework
  • Start the problems early--the day they are assigned
  • Do not flip back to see example problems; work them yourself!
  • Don’t give up too soon (<15 min.)
  • Don’t spend too much time (>30 min.)
what is an active learning cycle
What is an active learning cycle?
  • Decide what’s important to learn
  • Condense this information so you can learn it
  • Practice rehearsing the information
  • Self-test
  • Review and self-test regularly.
study first
Study First...
  • Remember, the best way to prepare for tests (reduce any anxiety) is to practice in the same way you will have to perform.
  • BUT, first you have to study the material.
  • This means you might want to study far enough ahead to allow yourself the time to practice.
practice second
Practice Second
  • After you’ve studied the material and know it, practice it like you’re taking the test.
    • Ask yourself the same types of questions as the test you will take (multiple choice, essay, concept learning)
    • Time yourself
  • As you practice, look for any information you are missing or that is weak for you.
critical thinkers evaluate own their learning
Critical thinkers evaluate own their learning

To do this, you must:

  • Realistically evaluate what you’ve learned and what you haven’t learned
  • Devise strategies to test your learning (e.g. write about the topic, give a “lecture about the topic”, etc.)
  • Use strategies to deepen your learning
self test
Self Test
  • By yourself or with a study group
  • Review chapters and lecture notes
  • With flashcards
  • Write and take your own test
practice a little more 1
Practice a Little More #1
  • After you’ve identified weak areas, study more then practice again.
  • If you’re unsure that you have studied everything you need to know, get an appointment with your instructor a few days before the exam.
  • Take a list of the things you know. Ask if the list is complete. Do not ask...
practice a little more 2
Practice a Little More #2
  • “What’s on the test?” Instead, get the facts about the test to practice efficiently.
  • So, study and practice.

Find your weak points.

Study and practice.

practice practice practice 1
Practice, practice, practice #1
  • See if this is true for you -
    • The more experience you have doing something, the better you tend to be at it.
    • The less experience you have doing something, the more difficult and overwhelming it may seem.
  • Most people report that new things are more difficult than familiar things.
practice practice practice 2
Practice, practice, practice #2
  • Here’s the basic rule:
  • The more you practice something just the way you will have to “perform” it, the easier it will become to perform it.
  • Many people report anxiety when they have to perform without adequate practice…
practice practice practice 3
Practice, practice, practice #3
  • A true story:
  • A student goes to a math class and is taught a+b=c. She studies at home over and over again, a+b=c, a+b=c, a+b=c.
  • She gets to the test and sees the following equation: a=b-c.
  • She panics because she was not taught this in class and has never seen this before.
practice practice practice 4
Practice, practice, practice #4
  • There are 3 basic kinds of tests:
    • 1. Multiple choice
    • 2. Essay
    • 3. Concept learning (story problems)
  • Each test requires different kinds of practice.
practice for objective tests
Practice for Objective Tests
  • Objective tests (like multiple choice, true-false, short answer, and matching) ask you to know how discrete bits of information are connected.
    • Like: a) 1492 connects to b) Columbus sailed the ocean blue.
  • Practice for these by some method approximating flash cards usually is best.
practice for essay tests
Practice for Essay Tests
  • Essay tests ask you to tell how things are related or not related to each other or ask you to show you know content.
    • Compare/contrast
    • Describe/discuss
  • Outlining and understanding main points and how they are connected works best.
practice for concept learning
Practice for Concept Learning
  • Concept learning asks you to show you know the concept by being able to use it.
    • Math story problems
    • Using a concept in a different way than was discussed.
  • Studying the concepts from different angles and views to see how they connect to each other works best.
visual mapping
Visual Mapping


  • consolidate information visually
  • emphasize particular thought pattern:
  • effective for visual and spatial learners
  • Fun form of elaborative rehearsal
chapter map
Chapter Map

Title of Chapter

Primary Headings


Secondary Subheadings

cornell note taking format
Cornell Note Taking Format*

Notes on Taking Notes, 05/18/06



Uses of notes

  • identify major points
  • identify minor points

There are 4 Kinds of Notes:

  • Running Text
  • Formal Outline
  • Informal Outline
  • Cornell Note system

Reduce ideas and facts to concise summaries and cues for reciting, reviewing and reflecting over here.

*Developed by Walter Pauk