Math Study Skills – Time Management

March 1, 2009 at 8:40 pm Leave a comment

The second study skill I introduced this semester was time management. Time management is a skill that any student who hopes to graduate from college must master at some point. Under ideal circumstances, students who needed to improve their time management would know that this was an area of weekness for them, but alas, those who need help rarely know it.

I start by talking about the college rule – each hour in the classroom should produce 2-3 hours of work outside the classroom. Many students are simply unaware about the amount of time required to be a college student. (By the way, I stole this trick from my friend Alan Bass: Tell your students that these are the guidelines that your state or college has devised, this is not something you’ve come up with out of thin air. They will be less upset with you this way!) So, for a 4 unit class, students should be spending between 8 and 12 hours weekly. Add in another 8-12 for each class they’re taking, hours for work, family, sleep, and other committments. For the typical student, this will quickly be approaching 168 hours.

At the end of class, I gave my students a weekly calendar broken down into 24 one-hour blocks. For homework I asked them to pencil in class times, work hours, family committments, travel time, other committments (volunteer work, …), and sleep. I collected these from my students throughout the next class period. I’d put a problem on the board, then walk around and pick up a few. As I looked them over I was able to talk to the students about overextending themselves, or which times might be best for studying math.

At the end of class I asked the students if they would have trouble fitting in 2-3 hours of study time for each hour of class time. For many it would be impossible. It was a great opportunity to talk about the dangers of overextending yourself, especially at the beginning of your college career.

Stage two was to ask my students to keep track of their study time, for all of their classes, for an entire week. Once students turned these logs in, I compared the time spent to their grades. It gave me a chance to talk to students who might not be giving their fullest effort, and try to find ways to get more math into their daily schedule. I also compared the students’ logs to their weekly schedules they had already turned in. It clearly showed some students were not taking full advantage of their open times.

The last thing I did was to point them in the direction of an online video, and a computer generated animation, that offered advice on the subject of time management.

This study skill did not use up a lot of class time, pointed out which students needed the help, and gave everyone valuable suggestions. To me, that was time well spent.

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Entry filed under: Math. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , .

NADE 2009 – Study Skills ICTCM 2009

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