Time to Reassess your Study Habits? Nine Points to Consider.
Are you beating yourself up after Block One? Saying, “should ‘a, could ‘a, would ‘a done better …BUT … if only _________(fill in the blank)”. What is your excuse?
Maybe it is time to reassess your study habits?
1. Time: “But I don’t have enough time!” Take the test and see where your time really goes? How much time do you spend on your cell phone, texting, and checking your email? How motivated are you to study? “Deep motive correlated with time on assignments. Students who were less certain they wanted to work as a doctor undertook less study activity and spent less time with patients.” Yet, more time studying is not better if your problem is inefficient study habits! (Wilkinson, 2007) Which leads to the next issue …
2. Focusing: "But there is so much going on, I have trouble blocking out the distractions?" Use ear plugs, try the study carrels in the library, close out Facebook, turn off you cell phone, do what it takes! To quote KevinMD from his blog article “9 Essential Tips for new Medical Students” ~ “When you study, focus on studying.”
3. Location: Research shows that studying a certain piece of information repeatedly is good, but that studying it repeatedly in different surroundings is even better (Sasanow, 2010). So review that lecture power point in the LRC , then read it over again while studying in the library, then of course learn it during the lecture, then review it again at home. The research shows that if you learn something in multiple settings it will stick with you better as your mind is not connecting that piece of information with only one particular location or environment (Carey, 2010).
4. Multitasking: “But I went to all the lectures!” That is very good because research has shown those who attend live lectures score 3% higher than those who rely on even recorded lectures. (Wenger, 2012) BUT what were you doing during the lectures? Research shows that only 5% of people can multitask effectively (Weimer, 2012). Do you honestly believe you are in that 5%? Note the following quotes: “…students who did not text (during the lecture) scored significantly higher (on a post-lecture quiz) (Ellis, 2010).” “Students who tried to listen to the lecture while using … distractive windows (on their laptops ~ such as games, pictures, email, instant messaging, and web surfing) had significantly lower scores … (Kraushaar, 2010).” “The level of laptop use negatively correlated with how much attention students paid to lectures, the clarity of the lectures and how well they understood the lecture material (Fried, 2008).” “Their multitasking was significantly related to lower GPA … (Barak. 2012).”
5. Practice Review: “But I read the textbook!” But you didn’t really get it did you? While you were reading did you periodically stop and think about what you just learned? How did it relate to what you already know? Write down the key points and concepts you managed to extract from what you just read and then try to explain them, teach them, to yourself. Then go back and re-read the section again, refine your notes then meditate some more on the points. “…high-achievers spent significantly more hours/week on self-study (…and) scored higher on 3 factors which measured aspects of deliberate practice – planning, study style and motivation.” (Moulaert, 2004) The Moulaert study also showed that high achieving students owned more books and read more articles! So make good use of our library resources and our online medical literature databases.
6. Concept mapping: “But I memorized all the facts!” So after you have done your reading, got your notes, got your points, try ‘concept mapping’. In other words draw a diagram of what you just learned. Generally speaking, most educators are big on this as they believe “…having students draw detailed diagrams documenting what they are learning …forces students to make connections among facts.” However according to recent research you need to take this a step further…
7. Practice questions: “I am sure I got that now, I will remember that!” Now you need to test yourself so you are sure you own the material! Research reports that students who stop at point #5 can harbor “the illusion that they know the material better than they do” (Belluck, 2011). It also shows a further significant benefit to learning through testing, and the use of practice questions, even when students get the questions wrong. Note this reader’s comments: “During medical school we were also encouraged to "do questions" to prepare for both our institutional exams, as well as for the national licensing exams. In fact, there are large on-line 'question banks' and 'question books' that are available for purchase and everyone knows you need to do those to pass. The conventional wisdom is that if you do all the questions from the past 5 years of books, you'll pass the exam. I don't know why it works, but it does. These are NOT questions that you will see again on the exam so it's not a case of just memorizing the right answer.“ “While students have many different ways to study, which includes reading the text book, students can perform well on examinations using high yield review books and practice exam questions as resources. Students who used practice clinical vignette-type questions on average scored 5 points higher than the class average.” (Wenger, 2012) Have you started using Exam Master yet, or the many review books available to you in the library?
8. Test Taking Strategies: Learn key test-taking strategies and the anatomy of multiple choice exams, by attending the study skills lecture to be given by Sue Simon, in the UMHS Auditorium on Wednesday, October 24, 2012 at 12:30 pm . Also take note of these “Tips for Success: Mastering Multiple-Choice Tests”.
9. Manage Stress: “But I am feeling so tired!” Research demonstrates that “stress symptoms, such as fatigue, sleeping problems, anxiety, irritability and depression, were common (during undergraduate medical training).” Some other common symptoms of stress to watch out for are abdominal pain, nervousness, headache, dizziness, and pain in the neck, shoulders, or lower back. (Niemi, 2006) Learning to manage your stress early on will prevent more serious problems later, such as possible burnout. “Burnout is a psychological syndrome of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and impaired personal accomplishment induced by repeated workplace stressors. Current research suggests that physician burnout may have its origins in medical school.” (Mazurkiewicz, 2012) Don’t hold back from availing yourself of our campus counseling service for any extra support you may need to help get your stress level under control!
I hope you have been able to take something away from your read of these 9 points ~ and ‘all the best’ for an improved block 2 and your continued success at UMHS-St. Kitts! To quote Dean Camacho’s motto, “Never give up, never give up!”
Barak, L. (2012). Multitasking in the university classroom. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 6 (2) http://academics.georgiasouthern.edu/ijsotl/v6n2.html.
Belluck, Pam. (2011). To really learn, quit studying and take a test. The New York Times- Science, January 20, 2011. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/21/science/21memory.html
Carey, B. (2010). Forget what you know about good study habits. The New York Times – Health – Mind Column, September 6, 2010. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/07/health/views/07mind.html?pagewanted=all
Ellis, Y., Daniels, W. and Jauregui, A. (2010). The effect of multitasking on the grade performance of business students. Research in Higher Education Journal, 8 http://www.aabri.com/manuscripts/10498.pdf
Fried, C. B. (2008). In-class laptop use and its effects on student learning. Computers and Education, 50 (3), 906-914.
Karpicke, J.D., Blunt, J.R. (2011). Retrieval practice produces more learning than elaborative studying with concept mapping. Science, 11 February 2011: 331 (6018), 772-775.Published online 20 January 2011 [DOI:10.1126/science.1199327].
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Niemi, P.,Vainiomäki, P. (2006). Medical students' distress--quality, continuity and gender differences during a six-year medical programme. Medical Teacher, 28(2), 136-141.
Mazurkiewicz, R., Korenstein, D., Fallar, R., & Ripp, J. (2012). The prevalence and correlations of medical student burnout in the pre-clinical years: a cross-sectional study. Psychology, Health & Medicine, 17(2), 188-195.
Moulaert, V., Verwijnen, M. M., Rikers, R., & Scherpbier, A. A. (2004). The effects of deliberate practice in undergraduate medical education. Medical Education, 38(10), 1044-1052. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2929.2004.01954.x
Pugsley, L. (2009). Study effectively. Education for Primary Care, 20(3), 195-197.
Sasanow, A. (2010). Varying study locations could improve content retention, psychologists say. The Tufts Daily, October 7, 2010. http://www.tuftsdaily.com/features/varying-study-locations-could-improve-content-retention-psychologists-say-1.2358170
Weimer, M. (2012). Students think they can multitask. Here’s proof they can’t. The Teaching Professor Blog, Faculty Focus, September 20, 2012, http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-professor-blog/multitasking-confronting-students-with-the-facts/
Wenger, S.L., Hobbs, G.R., [et al]. (2012). Medical students study habits: Practice questions help exam scores. Journal of the International Association of Medical Science Educators, No. 4, n.d. Retrieved from the association’s website. http://www.iamse.org/artman/publish/printer_500.shtml .
Wilkinson, T. J., Wells, J., & Bushnell, J. A. (2007). Medical student characteristics associated with time in study: Is spending more time always a good thing?. Medical Teacher, 29(2/3), 106-110. doi:10.1080/01421590601175317