How Teachers Can Teach Study Skills

Teaching Study Skills

Teachers, especially at the higher grade levels, often assume their students learned effective study skills in prior school years. As a result, students often make it to the college and university level with few study skills and poor study habits, leaving them unprepared for the more rigorous coursework. There are simple, effective techniques, however, that teachers can use at any grade level to teach their students to study.

Two Major Study Skills Areas

There are two major areas necessary for students to learn, but that are often overlooked in teaching.The first is reading for information, which is essential not only for studying but also for reading portions of standardized exams. The second area is effective note taking skills, which are essential throughout a student’s educational career.

An excellent way of teaching both skills to students is to use the following set of activities, which build on each other:

Activity 1 – Reading for Information.

Teaching students how to read for information, as well as improve their reading comprehension, requires short articles and highlighters. Give each student a short informative article, which should be suited to the grade level. It may make it easier for the teacher if all of the students have the same article. Tell the students to highlight the important information in the article. Remind them that important information can include vocabulary words/key words and definitions, numbers that tell sizes or dates, and important people and places.

  • Check their work after they are finished highlighting. If students are having trouble highlighting important information, help them recognize what the important ideas are. Discuss what makes certain information important and worth highlighting.
  • This exercise helps students learn to look for the important information in a reading passage. It also helps the student learn how to study key information without reading the entire article again.
  • See also – Better Textbook Reading Skills and Strategies for Textbook Studies

Activity 2 – Taking Notes

This activity requires the highlighted articles from Activity 1 and lined index cards.

  • Students should write the title and author of the article on the first card.Instruct them to put a number on this card, and explain that the number will be put on every other card that goes with the article.The number is a method of keeping the note cards organized by grouping key points together under one master index card.
  • Instruct students to write the highlighted information from their article on the index cards, putting one fact on each card.
  • Teachers can check to make sure students are writing down the main points without copying every word. Discuss writing only key points as a way of remembering the entire statement.
  • Ask students to tell you what they learned from the article, using only their note cards.
  • Explain that students can do this for every class. Note cards can be used to review for tests, and reviewing can include flash cards, card games, or basic shuffling. Encourage students to keep index cards with them in other classes.
  • More information on taking notes – Cornell Method, Split Page Method and Tips for taking better notes

Activity 3: Outlining Notes.

  • Outlining notes, or taking notes in outline form, is a step up from taking notes on index cards. Once students have had time to practice and become comfortable with the index cards, begin teaching outlining.
    • Provide students with an outline and discuss it with them. Make sure they understand headings and subheadings.
    • Going back to the highlighted article, or using a new, longer article, instruct students to outline the key points of the article. Check to make sure they are following outline format.
      • Another option is to outline an article together, as a class, then assign a second article to be outlined by each student.
    • Pace your lectures so students will be able to practice making outlines. Encourage them to use the outlines in other classes.
    • More on Outlining Note Taking

Knowing how to read for information and take effective notes are necessary skills at every level of education. Reading comprehension is necessary not only for standardized assessments, but also for general reading and studying. With a few simple activities, teachers can help ensure their students have those skills.


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Written by:
Modified: August 23rd, 2017
Published: February 27th, 2008

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