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Version 1 June ‘02 Geoff Petty This handout summarises what research tells us about the effectiveness of study skills teaching, it also compares different strategies and identifies the best. Indeed it identifies a vital aspect of excellent teaching of any kind. It is based on a definitive review of research in this area by Hattie iggs and Purdie!, who are the international experts on this topic, and indeed experts in learning more generally. They combined decades of research into a "meta study# $study of studies% to draw their conclusions, so in terms of "how to do it# it#s the best advice we have. They find that study skills can be taught, that it can add between one and two grades to students# academic performance depending on how it is done, and that it need not take a great deal of time. &ery few teachers will already be adopting the best practice described in this study, so there are opportunities here for almost everyone to improve their teaching. To summarise the findings' for best results, study skills needs to be integrated in with the sub(ect teaching, and taught in an active and reflective manner, using sub(ect specific material and tasks. Comparing different approaches Hattie et al use "effect si)es# to compare the effectiveness of hundreds of different study skills teaching programmes. In outline, the best way of telling how well a teaching strategy works is to try it out with real teachers and students, and to have a control group. *ou can then compare learning "with# and "without# the strategy being tested. How much more the experimental group learns than the control group is the "effect si)e#. • +n effect si)e of 1.0 is analogous to a two grade leap at G,-. • +n effect si)e of 0. is analogous to a one grade leap. There is more on effect si)es at the end of this handout. !he main findings of the study skills meta"study were# • /ost study skills teaching has a positive effect, but some works much better than others. The mean effect si)e of studies was about 0.12. -tudy skills teaching improved attitude more than it did the students# study skills $0.13%. Perhaps it makes students feel less stressed4 • +lthough other strategies can work well, the best strategy is to teach study skills in conte$t. 5nly exceptionally will students "transfer# strategies learned in one context, into another. -o if an economics teacher teaches essay planning, the students benefit and their essays get at least a grade better, but they need to be taught by their history teacher to transfer these skills to, say, history essay planning which otherwise will not improve4 It#s best to use tasks that are real, embedded, and sub(ect specific. ..g. Teach essay planning while they are writing a real essay for their course6 or teach note taking by looking at the notes they have made in a real lesson. Its best to integrate study skills teaching into the scheme of work. -tudents must be active while they are learning study skills. Giving notes on how best to study doesn#t work. /eta7cognition is a notable feature of all the successful $high effect si)e% studies that they found. /eta7cognition is students thinking about their learning, and self7regulating their own learning. 8or example, students reflecting about the way they work, and so setting themselves goals for improvement, then evaluating how this went.
• • •
Conventional study skills teaching -tudy skills have often been taught as a separate and discrete topic. This is not the best way, but it works pretty well, adding up to a grade to students# performance. Techni9ues such as skim
nearly twice as effective as that described above. mind7mapping etc are "orchestrated# to the demands of the particular task and context. sub(ect7specific context. The snowball approach would be' . without regard to context. all in context. plan and write essays. and ensures students get feedback on how well they have done on each sub7skill. • • . teacher assessment may also be helpful in many cases. This is also the best way for getting transfer between sub(ects. e. It involves using the "snowball approach#. what gains they were getting and so on. essay planning and so on are taught one at a time and independently. Pairs combine into fours. The teacher corrects any misconceptions or bad practice and summarises best practice >.ffect si)e 0. The students then reflect on how well they used the skills. but also why. and not at all well for adults. The teacher hears feedback from each group of four on what is best practice 2. and then they action plan for improvement. This is best explained by example.::% This is the best approach. !he characteristics of the most effective study skills programmes were# • • The teacher identifies the study skills re9uired for success in their sub(ect. The different skills such as skim reading. -tudents learn the skills actively. mind7mapping etc. It is based on the work of Graham Gibbs who#s study skills approach is well researched and exemplary . It is to integrate study skills teaching into the sub(ect teaching using sub(ect specific material and tasks. -uppose you were teaching note taking.g. $meta7cognition%. This does not need much extra time -tudents learn skills by using them in a realistic. but works best for younger ones too. &ou could use snow'alling as part of your relational approach I have a series of six activities to teach note taking. The purpose of the skills are stressed. note taking. students look at each other#s notes to find "good# and "bad# points =. and in a combined way. If you are interested I can send you the materials. The students then work on the study skills they find most difficult. or after the main instruction on study skills. and is probably more likely to ensure that the skills do not fade with time. In pairs. -tudents do some note taking <. reading. note taking. gives students time to practice these skills in class. students are taught not (ust what to do and how.. during. They actually do it. highlighting. The sub(ect teacher explains how to research. -tudents as individuals set themselves action plans for improvement. This approach works best for younger learners. This approach works particularly well for older and more able students. highlighting. The students self7assess how effectively they use these study skills. -o they might use other skills taught before such as note taking.reading. $/ean . !each %tudy skills in conte$t# the relational approach. they don#t (ust hear about how it should be done. essay writing etc using this metacognitive approach.. 1. 8or example essay planning is taught by the sub(ect teacher setting a task of doing an essay that is actually re9uired for the course. They are not (ust taught and used independently. This self7assessment can take place before. and each student explains the good and bad points of their original partner.
• The student takes control and chooses which techni9ue to use when and why. -tudents are re9uired to self7monitor. In the very best programmes students are asked to generalise what they have learned about study skills to other aspects of their study. ability. . spider diagrams etc%6 "advanced organisers# where students are told in advance what they will learn in a lesson or . -ee Geoff for his paper called “How to get a 100% pass rate with 90% grades A to C” (hich study skills should we teach) +s mentioned before. they send a "hidden message# 777 that improvement is within the students capability.moonfruit.oncept mapping# $or mind mapping. self7assess. The use of skills is directed towards the sub(ect specific task$s%. and self7regulate their use of these skills. 8or example ?Its always important to keep in mind what the key points are when studying a topic@ ?*ou forget if you don#t review and it its best to review often for short periods than rarely for long periods@ etc. However.23% These are strategies that show the structure of what is being learned. -tructural +ids' $/ean effect si)e 0.B> is for "transfer# between programmes. courses combine study skills and the learning of high order thinking skills re9uired in their sub(ect. Dweck found that about half of all students at all academic levels believe their performance is determined largely by fixed attributes such as IC.. while maintaining a clear sense of purpose. and not to attribute the 9uality of their work to fixed attributes over which they have no control such as talent. or IC. 8or example if a teacher asks students to reflect on their performance and to set themselves goals for improvement.. .g. +ttribution $/ean effect si)e 0.B> to . -tudents can#t help but learn the sub(ect specific content while they are learning the study skills. The effect si)es of strategies that re9uire meta7cognition are nearly twice as high as those that do not. It involves interacting with content to develop ideas on its meaning. for example extracting the key points from the content being studied. 5r read the Dweck action research proposal at http'EEgeoffpetty. However. prior learning.com on the +ction Fesearch page. +ttribution can be taught very indirectly. the 0. "+ttribution# and "structural aids# are worth including in any study skills programme as they have the largest effect si)es of all study skills topics.onse9uently they withdraw effort instead of increasing it when they encounter difficulties. . -tudy skills programmes of only = to 3 hours duration were found to be effective. -uch strategies include' ". and the use of appropriate strategies.1< effect si)e is enormous. then they may actually do something about it4 The .. • • This is not as time consuming as it sounds. you can teach it more directly too. -ome 8. If they attribute their weaknesses to lack of effort. you need to identify the study skills and sub7skills crucial for success in your sub(ect. writing an essay. setting themselves targets for experimentation and improvement. and is for within sub(ect specific programmes. perhaps with an assessment profroma. and dedicate <0A of the teaching time to this. Indeed some study skills activities such as making a summary mindmap are excellent methods for learning the content. -ee my handout on Dweck for strategies and more detail. and that performance is not simply due to talent.1<44% This involves teaching students to attribute the 9uality of their work to factors over which they have control such as' effort. -mall studies have demonstrated remarkable success. if a struggling student attributes their weakness to IC then they are likely to despair and withdraw effort.learly. study time. This is called "meta7 cognition# and is given a heavy emphasis in this review.
+s a comparison.. Averaged effect si%es give us the best evidence of whether strategies work or not.B3. and ask them to try the technique in a forthcoming lecture.ducational Fesearch -ummer . and essay planning etc. skimming. a tutor could do "note taking with students. +. !owever. but not using all these skills together. Teaching students to work up the iggs -5G5 heirarchy may also help. This would considerably improve on the effect si%e of &. the very large effect si)es for these strategies show that there is plenty of opportunity to improve student learning.1 is above average for educational research and means the strategy is very effective. the best way of telling whether a strategy works or not is to try it out with real teachers and real students. • +n effect si)e of 0. how much better the students did in their academic study due to learning study skills. It involves teaching directively. >>. How much more the experimental group learns than the control group is the "effect si)e#. The effect si%es quoted in this paper are those for "performance unless otherwise stated.0 is enormous and puts the strategy amongst the most powerful discovered by research. they are much better evidence than correlations. The one with the highest effect si%e being "best . (hat are effect si*es) +s mentioned earlier.BB>% “Effects of Learning Skills Inter entions on St!dent Learning" A #eta Anal$sis%” Feview of .'( which is already above average for educational research. a range of skills such as underlining. so if students learned "attribution# and "structural aids# effectively this would add three grades to each student#s academic performance4 In practice it is hard to implement strategies as rigorously as on educational research programmes. and reflect on their experience of using them. $or example. Ho <. showing that study skills teaching works.. *ou can then compare learning "with# and "without# the strategy. The high effect si)e is partly due to the limited measure of success $rote recall%. They could then offer opportunities for students to review their note taking experiences at the next tutorial and set themselves targets and so on. and to have a control group. • +n effect si)e of 1. Students are not taught how to integrate their use of the different skills or techniques.BB> &ol. pp BB7. +n average effect si)e of .. and is important.-. +n effect si)e greater than 0.=> ?Teaching -tudents To Gearn@ Graham Gibbs Published by 5pen Iniversity Press in .<2. However. that is. Some of the weaknesses of this approach may be overcome if students are required to use the skills and techniques they are being taught within their sub#ect learning. or learning how to choose the skill that is most appropriate on a given task.0B% 8or example Fichard of *ork Gained attle In &ain to remember the colours of the rainbow' Fed 5range etc. -eferences# Hattie iggs and Purdie $. a teacher in front of a class has an effect si)e of 0.ffect si)es are additive. +lso see my "+nalysis# handout. As you can see this strategy doesn t work as well as the relational approach described earlier.unit6 note taking skills6 summary writing etc. /emory +ids such as /nemonics $/ean effect si)e . . A Coda on Conventional Study Skills Teaching $/ean effect si)e 0. They are not taught to work with a sense of purpose choosing the most appropriate skill depending on context.0 is analogous to a two grade leap at G. -ee separate handout on this. it is "considerably better than nothing adding nearly a grade to students academic performance. .12% This is common but is not the best way. and crucially they allow us to compare one strategy with another. is analogous to a one grade leap.
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