Why Teaching Study Skills is Important

November 10, 2010 at 12:26 pm 1 comment

I’m on my way to host a workshop at AMATYC on incorporating study skills into a developmental mathematics class. (The workshop is Thursday morning from 9-11 am.) I am also excited to be giving a similar talk at Bunker Hill Community College.

Sadly there are still instructors who feel that teaching study skills has no business in a developmental math class. They say “This is college, and college students need to figure these things out for themselves. When I was in college I was never taught how to be a student, and I turned out just fine. If a student can not figure out how to be a college student, they should not be a college student.” This strikes me as an elitist attitude. I view my job as helping students to learn and understand mathematics, and if my students do not know how to learn mathematics then I can not be successful.

Other instructors say that students know what to do in order to be successful. Although this may be true, my claim is that students do not know how to do these things. Or even why they do these things. On the first day of class, ask your students “What do you need to do in order to be a good math student?” Your students will generate a lengthy, though very general, list: come to class, take notes, do homework, study, ask for help, … If you ask follow up questions like “Why do you take notes?” or “What is an effective study plan?”, you will see nothing but blank stares. When pressed, a student will tell you that they take notes in class because everyone else does, that they blindly copy whatever is on the board without thinking about what is going on, and that they do not use their notes outside of class.

I incorporate math study skills into every developmental math class I teach. The skills I cover include note taking, time management, test preparation, test taking, test analysis, practice quizzes, note cards for memorization, study groups, learning styles, math anxiety, reading a math textbook, and doing homework. I am able to do this while still covering all of the material in the course outline through the use of short in-class activities and assignments. During my workshop I will be sharing many of the assignments and activities that I use. If you would like to these assignments and activities, or if you would like to view the PowerPoint slides I will be using, you can find the on the Presentations page on my website: georgewoodbury.com .

If we can teach our students the study skills that are needed to learn mathematics, we are increasing their chances for success. By success I am not just referring to their success in our class, but also in their future classes. And in college. And hopefully in life.

Wrap Up

How much time do you spend on study skills? Do you feel that we shouldn’t be teaching study skills? If you have any questions or feedback, let me know by posting a comment or reaching me through the contact page on my web site: georgewoodbury.com .


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

Intro to my 2010 AMATYC Study Skills Workshop AMATYC Wrap Up

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Larry  |  November 11, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    I agree – study skills are very necessary in today’s world – so much information, ideas, networking, etc. we have to use and tie together. Professionals still learn some study skills – memory, time management, quick math figures, estimates and probability, etc.

    I’ve created a Study System – including study skills with tools and resources for Middle School – High School – College. See http://www.yoursuccessinschool.com

    More student in High School and in College need to learn to study better, especially with math, to learn to comprehend ideas and concepts better and learn how to tie many types of ideas together for insights and advancements in the 21st Century.


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