Psychology professor and students share science-based and personally effective study skills

Written by: 
Helam Lau

Methods and study skills were shared by psychology professor and students who said these personal tips have helped the course of their time in school.

Jess Kohlert, department chair of psychology, put an emphasis on the importance of diligence when studying. “There is no substitute for work. Whatever amount of effort you put in is what you are going to get out of something.”

Kohlert mentioned how cramming when studying is ineffective. “Could I cram and remember something for a short time and take that on the test? Absolutely! That doesn’t mean I learn them. Shortly after that, within a week, I don’t remember it. That’s not learning.

“Knowing it means you have to be exposed to it, repeat it, and understand it. Otherwise, it will be gone in a short period of time. Don’t cram, don’t study really late, and get up early.”

He advised how training your brain should be similar to how you train your body. “If you have a set time to study in a day like everyday at noon, your brain, body, and whole being are ready to study at that time. It is like when I exercise every morning, my body knows.”

Responding to people who claim to be able to multitask while studying, Kohlert said, “People think they can switch back and forth to check their text messages and study. That doesn’t happen. We are not good at that.

“When you study, you only study. Minimize all the distractions. You don’t listen to music. You turn off your phone and put away all your distractions.”

Commenting on people who claim to find themselves study more effectively while listening to music, he said, “They could be more effective if they try to train their body and brain. They just haven’t achieved their maximum potential in studying more productively.

“Some music does prepare your brain more effectively for study. That doesn’t say that listening to music while studying helps. If they focus on the music, they are not doing effective study. Some music like classical music can bring you to a mental state that helps you to focus. Some do the opposite.”

He asked, “If music was that important to learn, don’t you think we would have more music in the temple or during classes?”

Kailey Trussel, a senior from Seattle majoring in psychology, agreed with Kohlert on his advice of minimizing distractions.

“Out of sight, out of mind. I have to have my cell phone away. I don’t even have it out on the desk at all while I study. If the phone is here, you are consciously looking at the phone.”

Ryan Ng, a senior from Hong Kong majoring in psychology, suggested SQ3R, a reading comprehension method which stands for: survey, question, read, recite, and review.

“Survey means to scan through the structure, headings, and subheadings of the reading material fast. Ask questions constantly like what it is going to talk about, what I have read from it, or how I apply it. Read through the details and cover what you have not previously [read]. Recite and rephrase it. Speak it out or write it down. Review it all again.”

He said SQ3R has helped him study long essays for research and read tons of pages in textbooks more effectively. “As a non-native English speaker, this method has helped me to process information easier and saved me a lot of time.

It used to take Ng 2-3 hours to read 20 pages, but he said he can read that amount in an hour and a half with the SQ3R method.

Kolhert added, “When you read the first line, you start forming questions, and then you read and try to answer the questions. That is more effective than ‘I am going to read it.’ You have to get actively involved in it but not just passively read it.”

Trussel shared a study method that she has been using for five years. “I am a huge fan of Quizlet.com. You can create flashcards electronically instead of handwriting them.

“You put a definition. Press the space bar and then it will flip it for you. If I get one wrong, they would put it aside so I have to study it later. For those [questions] I do know, I don’t have to go through them again.”

Another benefit of Quizlet is it has you write, said Trussel. “They have questions of the topic I want to study. If you don’t know it or get it wrong, you have to type it again by yourself after the right answer is shown. It totally helps me to remember it better.

“I feel like it is really teaching me instead of just flipping around the flashcards because of the fact that I have to type it out.

“It has totally changed how well I do on tests. Another cool thing is you can study flashcards made by other people. If I didn’t have time to make my own flashcards, then I would just search the name of the chapter and textbook in the website.”

Date Published: 
Wednesday, November 1, 2017
Last Edited: 
Wednesday, November 1, 2017