Finding time and making the best use of that time is often an early obstacle to distance education learning. Developing good study habits from the onset will play a significant role in the successful pursuit of your educational goal.
Organize your time. If you have a limited amount of time to study, set smaller goals. Focus on learning one new piece of information at a time instead of whole chapters. Learning several new pieces of information throughout the day will be more productive than rushing through an entire chapter and forgetting large portions of it. Consider studying in 50-minute increments. Studies show that studying for a maximum of 50 minutes at a time is optimal for recall and retention of material.
Recognize the important information. Familiarize yourself with key terms and their definitions. A working vocabulary is essential to understanding the material. Also, know the headings and section titles. This will help you to build a framework for storing details and act as a quick-reference guide when referring back to previously covered topics.
Know your learning style. To maximize your efforts, it is important to understand how you, as the learner, most efficiently retain information. Generally speaking, there are three different learning styles: tactile, auditory, and visual.
- Tactile learners will find the most success by rewriting previously read information. Consider keeping a separate notebook of key terms, concepts, and definitions. For best results, write the information in your own words.
- Auditory learners will benefit most by hearing the material out loud. Auditory learners may want to consider reading the module to a recorder and playing it back during their daily commute.
- Visual learners succeed most when using pictures, graphs, flowcharts, etc. The use of color-coding information in combination with flashcards usually helps to stimulate the brain, providing maximum benefit.
Conceptualize what you have read. It is important that you are able to look at a broad concept and be able to apply it to a specific circumstance.
Think in ways that will ensure exam success. In addition to having a solid foundation of raw data, successful students are also able to apply critical-thinking skills when taking an exam. Using pieces of information to draw conclusions or generate additional observations is key to truly understanding what you have read.