As a student body, we at BYU-Idaho are very diverse. We come from many backgrounds: at least 10 different ethnicities, 13 religious affiliations, 50 home states, 103 countries and various age levels, according to enrollment statistics. With all this diversity also comes many different learning styles, preferences and methods. It is important to find what works best for you in order to be successful in your academic career — and so you can make the most of your time here.
One useful method BYU-Idaho provides is the Learning Model. The Learning Model has three steps: Prepare, Teach One Another, and Ponder and Prove.
By preparing before class, you can be more able to engage during class. By teaching others, you can measure and fine-tune your own understanding of concepts and the subject matter. By reflecting and applying, you can better internalize what you learn.
D. J. Teichert, Study Skills Center Director for the Academic Support Centers, said teaching the material you learn helps you retain it.
“If you can’t teach a concept in your own words, then you probably shouldn’t feel comfortable going in to take a test,” Teichert said.
He suggests reviewing after class as soon as possible and doing periodic reviews during your study time leading up to your test.
“Within one hour of leaving class you only remember about 44 percent of the material,” Teichert said. “Within 24 hours it‘s down to about 21 to 23 percent. So, if you haven’t reviewed within that time frame you’re going to have to reteach yourself 80 percent of the material.”
This way, you actually end up doing less studying and better remember the material.
“You end up doing less studying if you’ll do the spaced reviews, and it doesn’t have to be long reviews,” Teichert said. “It can be 10–minute reviews, but you do it through self-testing; don’t reread. Retention is one of the biggest problems students have in terms of the the process of learning.”
Regarding studying, Teichert said just rereading over your notes is not an effective way to study; students need to engage in self-testing regularly, not just when it’s test time.
“I always recommend the Cornell method, and it is more of a review method,” he said. “You formulate questions based on your notes and then you cover the notes and quiz yourself using the questions.”
Testing and Assessment Services has a whole page on test and study tips. According to the page, “Brigham Young University-Idaho Study Skills Center helps you how to learn to Study Smarter — Not Longer. The Study Skills lab is located in the Library Commons (McKay 140) on the first floor of the McKay Library’s east-wing.”
The BYU-I website has resources for students who want to improve or evaluate their studying habits through the Academic Support Centers page as well. There you can assess your study practices; view study skills videos, study tips and study skills handouts; and take study skills courses and lessons.
Stephanie Coder, an alumna who graduated in child development, shared what works best for her. Coder was the Relief Society president in the Rexburg YSA 41st Ward for about six semesters and had to balance that with other aspects of her social life as well as with school.
“My day is packed, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.,” Coder said. “I feel like I run 1,000 miles everyday, but I’ve been amazed I get so much done in my day because I have prioritized my time. I have a strict schedule. I dedicate time to school and also have my ‘me time.'”
The school also has both non-credit and credit courses one can take to improve their learning experience. Some non-credit courses available include organizing your life, note taking, and concentration and avoiding procrastination. Some credit courses include GS 105 Study and Life Skills, GS 103D Textbook Study, GS 103E Time Management, GS 103C Thinking Skills, and GS 103F Test Skills.
Teichert teaches GS 105 Study and Life Skills. According to the website, it’s a class “designed to help students develop the inner qualities that support making wise choices in their personal and academic lives. Emphasis (is) … placed on personal responsibility, self-management… and self-motivation. Students … also learn and apply basic study skills that facilitate becoming engaged lifelong learners.”
Teichert said the class teaches students how to succeed in college. He believes a student can succeed in anything they want to. Teichert mentioned three rules of success: show up, turn in (quality) work on time and participate, be engaged.
He said students need to prioritize — “be where you’re supposed to be when you’re supposed to be there. If you miss more than three classes you put yourself in serious academic peril.”
Specifically, Teichert suggested following a fixed schedule and not letting anything interfere. Generally, students should spend at least two hours outside of class for every hour in class. Some courses may require more.
“If you’re taking 15 credits, that’s 15 hours a week and there’s another 30 hours on top of it that should be dedicated to your studies — that’s 45 hours a week you’re dedicating to your school work, so treat your school work like a full-time job,” he said.
Coder dedicates much of her time to school and study before her other duties. To keep track of it all she does use a schedule as Teichert suggested.
“Keeping a planner helps me organize my time and my tasks and my stress loads, especially my goals for the week,” Coder said. “I only took on all I could do though; I took less credits sometimes if I had to. Take your time in college, and be accountable for yourself. And if you don’t get something done that day, it’s OK, there’s going to be another day.”
Teichert said much of students’ academic struggles come from playing before doing homework because it can lead to lack of sleep and missing classes.
“Just do the fundamentals,” he said. “You can know all the study skills in the world, but if you’re not doing the fundamentals of showing up, going to bed at a decent hour, getting adequate rest, eating properly, study skills won’t do you any good. Do the fundamentals and participate actively. When you go to class, be engaged. It just reduces the stress of one’s life.”
Coder said in the child development major they look at the physical, the mental and the emotional.
“You need to make sure you’re OK in all three of those areas to succeed,” she said.
For more specific and interactive help, students can visit the Tutoring, Writing, Reading and Math Study Centers.
You may learn best through visual means, or maybe you are more of an auditory learner. You may even prefer learning by means of application. Whatever it is, resources are available to assist in furthering your takeaway from your learning experience here. Prioritize, manage your time well, find out what works best for you and help someone do the same along the way.
“Accept responsibility for your learning,” Teichert said. “Your success is a choice, you can chose to succeed. Don’t give up, don’t quit, don’t make important decisions when you experience strong emotions. There has to be balance, you got to have fun, but you got to do things in the proper order — focus on the things that are important and not urgent, and hopefully you don’t have any things arise that are urgent. Then, if you do those, you can go reward yourself.”