We had the privilege of teaching two sold-out (and then some!) study skills courses this summer in conjunction with the Wade Edwards Learning Lab in Raleigh. We thought we’d share some of the insights we gleaned from those fantastic students. As it turns out, our students weren’t the only ones learning that week.
1. Students want to make a difference
Every time I teach this study skills course, I’m once again amazed at the positive response students give when talking about their ability to make a difference. Without fail we have students who have never really thought about why they are getting an education. They just know that they have to.
But one of the clearest and most consistent indicators of student success is student motivation. Motivated students tend to succeed; unmotivated students tend to experience significantly lower levels of success. Consistently in our study skills courses, the students who bring the most energy to the class and who get the most out of it are also the students who most want to make a difference.
Students, this summer confirmed for me more than ever before the importance of having a unique, personal, intrinsic motivation to make a difference in the world in a specific way. That kind of motivation will provides all the necessary energy to push through the night when you are 3 hours into a calculus review session.
2. The Myth of the Victim is alive and well
We teach students to recognize several prominent myths about student success that produce student failure. As you may have guessed, this is important because so many of the beliefs students have about their own success are only half-true. And a half-truth is a whole-myth.
It never ceases to amaze me how much the Myth of the Victim resonates with our students. I only have to explain it once, and a hush falls over the room. Not one student moves. Not one student talks. The jokers quit joking, and the cell phones quit tweeting. It’s an incredible experience – I imagine a bit like a child tasting his first bite of chocolate. It’s kind of that, “How have I not known about this before now!?” experience.
Students get this myth. Basically, it’s the belief that my success or failure is dependent on someone else. Sure, I understand completely that outside factors influence student success. Students’ teachers, family background, household income, IQ, school quality, and even things like a student’s general level of health all play a role in student success. But at the baseline, each student in the American public school system has enough opportunity to succeed. Many need extra help, better tools, or some investment from the right people. But those resources are available for those students who have decided that they will succeed.
Unfortunately, too many students have been pulled off the course because of this myth. They’ve resigned themselves to the fact that they’ve come from the wrong family, that they aren’t smart enough, or they just aren’t meant for school. Students, if this is you, before you give up, call us. We’ll help get you the right tools to succeed. It’s our firm belief that every student has the capability of graduating high school, and we’re committed to providing resources so that every student also has the tools to do so.
3. Study skills empower students
Putting our cards on the table, we believed this before we taught our study skills courses this summer. We are a bit biased.
But we also saw students leave our course after four days with excitement. I had one student in particular who was a football player a local high school who left talking excitedly about the skills he learned. He saw the massive benefit having the right tools to study effectively and quickly provided him.
In general, we would summarize this as empowerment. Knowing what you are doing, why you are doing it, how you are doing it, and how to stay organized in the midst of it provides a sense of confidence for students. Sure, many students knew a number of the skills we teach before coming in. But what they didn’t know was how to put all of these skills together.
When they left StudyRight, they left with the complete package. They know 80% of all they’ll ever need to know to study well.
How about you – maybe you haven’t taught a study skills course, but do you have a particular study skill that you’ve seen provide students with confidence. I’d love to hear about it in the comments at the bottom.