Learn to Study Smart

While you are studying, surround yourself with the reference books you will need – any books that complement your text and notes or that you have used as a reference.  Maybe there aren’t any, but you do have an index, a glossary and a table of contents in your book.

Consider this:

Would it be better to come away from one hour of studying really knowing five things, or, vaguely recognizing that you probably read about the thing you are now being asked to give examples of on a test?  When you are studying, always look up words, ideas or connections that you don’t know, don’t understand, or don’t remember.  If you gloss over vocabulary that you don’t understand, you will not really understand the rest of the sentence, or possibly the paragraph.  Then you’ve really wasted the time it took for your eyes to look over those words, even if you’ve now checked it off the list as being completed.  It is much more valuable to truly understand some of the material than it is to just look it all over.  When you study in depth (look things up, go back to a previous chapter to remind yourself why this new fact is relevant or answer a question that comes up in your head, you are making solid connections that will last longer and make you stronger!!  (Sorry I couldn’t resist the rhyme there.)

Seriously, don’t cheat yourself.  Waving your eyeballs over the words in your textbook or notes will not help you on a test.  At the bottom of the page or end of a section, stop and ask yourself what you just read about.  If you can’t answer right after reading it, then you won’t be able to answer on a test.

Boost your interest in A&P: Motivation

Find your motivation.

Figure out why the heck you are in this class.  Are you here because you have to be or because you want to be.

If you want to be, then your job is a little easier as you are probably already interested or you have already decided that you want to be in A&P because it gets you closer to a goal.

If you are here because you have to be and think you hate it, then you have to find a way to tie in your goals in life to this class.  You want to be a nurse but hate A&P?  Try to tie what you are learning about being a nurse – or to wherever this class is going to lead you.  If you can acknowledge that you are in class because you chose to be there to reach a goal, you might even be able to find a way to enjoy it.

If you don’t know why you’re in it, are doing it for someone else, or have changed your mind, then consider it a challenge to find something about it that interests you.  Challenge yourself to think of at least one question a day that is A&P related that you want answered.  Then ask, or find the answer.  If you can make yourself interested in a topic, then you’ll be…. well… interested in the topic!

It’s a powerful thing to acknowledge that you choose to be where you are.  You chose to be there, now choose to participate at a deeper level.  Choose to give the class, the professor, the material the benefit of the doubt.  There truly is something for everyone in A&P because everyone has a body!  Choose to find how it interests you and to do well in it.

Boost your interest in A&P: Be Attentive

Be attentive:

It is important to pay attention in class. It is important not only for your scholarly success, but also for your relationship with your teacher. If you sit in class and listen actively, a teacher will remember you. A teacher will also realize that you are trying to learn and understand the material.

Before you go into the classroom, look over your notes from the previous session. If you have any questions, be ready to ask your teacher either before class or at the beginning of the class.

Try not to be distracted in class. Turn off your cell phone before walking into a classroom. Don’t sit near a window. If somebody comes in late, don’t watch them sit down and get ready for class. Don’t sit near your friends, if you know they will try to talk with you. Pay attention to the teacher and take notes. Sit correctly; don’t spread out all over the place. Sit straight; don’t put your head on the desk or the back of the chair. Wear proper clothing to class. Don’t wear your pajama bottoms or the clothes that you wore to bed. Treat your classroom like your workplace.

If an assignment is given, wait until the teacher is finished before asking questions. Usually all your questions will be answered before being asked. It helps to move around every ten or fifteen minutes, but do not fidget. Simply change your position. If you are taking notes and need clarification, ask the question at the appropriate moment.

StudyTips.org. http://www.studytips.org/attentiveness.htm, retrieved January 12, 2010

Boost your interest in A&P: Be Mindful

Be mindful and present.

What the heck does that mean?  Well, basically it means that when you study, make sure that you are really focused on studying and that you are thinking about what you are thinking about.  Some things in life are checklist.  Grocery shopping for instance.  You put each item on the list in your cart, pay and go home.  Checklist.

Studying is not a checklist activity.  It does not help you much unless you are really paying attention to what you are studying.  Sit down and make a plan for studying and then make sure you are asking yourself questions as you study, and that you are thinking about what you are reading and reviewing.

Invest your attention and your presence in studying.  You get back what you put in!

Boost your interest in A&P: Invest

Successful students organize information, ask internal questions about what they are hearing, reading or seeing, and are interested.

If you are going through the motions of school : attending class, taking notes and completing your reading and written assignments, you are only doing part of the job.  ESPECIALLY if you are not already interested in the subject, going through the motions is just that – the motion of moving info in and out of your head.

There is another possibility.

Invest in the material.  Think about what you are hearing, reading and seeing.  Ask questions : out loud, in your head or in the margins of your notes.  Think about the information.  That’s the key to becoming interested, making connections and keeping new info in your head for longer than it takes to get through the next quiz.   You’ve got to invest a little to get something back.  Good grades are only part of the reward.  Being interested, thoughtful and creative will serve you throughout your life!

Organize Information: Graphic Organizers

You can learn to organize information by using graphic organizers.  Graphic organizers are simply blank organizing formats that can be filled in or copied while relating information.  Using a graphic organizer helps you see connections between things and organize information.  The most basic and easiest to brainstorm with is probably the concept map. You can take a look at an example of using a concept map and find links to two other types of graphic organizer  here.

Organize Information: Example of an Outline

Teachers and textbooks use outlines to present information in an organized fashion.  This is meant to help you understand which subjects / parts / items are related and how they fit together.  Whether it’s professor-supplied notes or straight lecture, usually a heading of what’s to come is followed by information that fits in that category.  Unfortunately your textbook is going to be much better at presenting an outline than some of your professors.  Sometimes there is a sub-heading with some information that is all related but only applies to one of the items in the original heading.  Outline format can help you but you have to understand it so you can catch it when your professor has jumbled the level of category he or she is using.  Arranging what you are learning, and understanding which items belong under the same heading will help you understand how things are related and which items you have to choose from to answer a question.  Your textbook will use an outline as described at the beginning of the book.  In other words, the textbook usually uses different sizes, fonts and colors to let you know at which level of organization the information you are reading belongs.

Below is an example of an outline and how you can use it to study.

If a professor is talking about tissue types, she might mention types of tissue : Epithelial, Connective, Muscle and Neural.  These are all at the same level of organization.  Each type has subtypes.  The material may be presented to you in outline form, but there is so much information added in between that you may lose sight of the original organization of the material.  Most textbooks also present information in outline format, but again, there is a lot in between, so an outline like the one below is not always readily visible.  Pay attention to the headings in your text book.  They will alter type, font size and color to let you know where you are in the outline.  Make an outline like the one below about topics you struggle with.  Understand how the items you are learning about are related to each other and in which category they belong.  Then you can look at the outline and ask further questions about the material.  As you look at it, give examples of each kind of tissue.  Use outlines you make or from your text to study.

A) Epithelial tissue:

1) Simple

a) squamous

b) cuboidal

c) columnar

2) Stratified

a) squamous

b) cuboidal

c) columnar

B) Connective tissue:

1) Connective Tissue Proper

a) loose connective tissue

i) areolar tissue

ii) adipose tissue

iii) reticular tissue

b) dense connective tissue

i) dense regular connective tissue

– tendons

– ligaments

– aponeurosis

ii) dense irregular connective tissue

– capsule

2) Fluid connective tissue

a) blood

b) lymph

3) Supportive connective tissue

a) cartilage

i) hyaline cartilage

ii) elastic cartilage

iii) fibrocartilage

b) bone

C) Muscle tissue:

1) Skeletal

2) Cardiac

3) Smooth

D) Neural tissue:

1) neurons

2) neuroglia

If your professor asks for an example of fluid connective tissue, you can look at this outline and see you have 2 choices : blood or lymph.  If she asks for an example of cartilage and wants to know what type of tissue cartilage is, you look at cartilage and go one level up to see that it is supportive connective tissue and that an example would be hyaline cartilage.

Organize Information: Overview

Some teachers give out notes, some make you start from scratch, but usually, in either situation, the notes are organized in a hierarchy of information.  A heading of what’s to come is followed by information that fits in that category.  Sometimes there is a sub-heading with some information that is all related but only applies to one of the items in the original heading.  Outline format.  Take a look at an outline and understand how things are arranged in it.  Arranging what you are learning, and understanding which items belong under the same heading will help you understand how things are related and which items you have to choose from to answer a question.

Deep Flash Cards

Okay, so get out your flashcards….  Nothing new, right?  Well, instead of memorizing the fronts and backs, try these ideas…

1) Place your cards into groups of related things or ideas.  Anything goes.  Find something, anything between a couple of cards and then add other cards that fit in as well.

2) If you are studying a physiological pathway (or any series of steps / chronology) place the cards in order.

3) Pick two cards and work at it until you think of a connection between them.

4) Show you know the card by answering the back but then ask yourself (or your study partner) a question about the word.

How to get the most out of your A & P textbook

Your textbook is your friend : )  Seriously.  And if you’re taking an A&P class it cost a humerus and a femur…. (get it – an arm and a leg?).  At any rate, get the most out of your textbook.  Below is some info from studytips.org on getting the most out of your textbook.

“Reading a textbook will be easier if you get organized before reading. Check out the title to see if you know anything about the topic. It may be a good idea to write down what you know or do not know about the topic. Talk to students and others about what you read. Ask questions about what you do not know and want answers to before you read the chapters. It is a good idea to share your knowledge with others to see what else you can learn.

It is a good idea to look at the graphics and pictures in a textbook and read underneath them to get an idea of the material. Include charts, graphs and tables in this category. Looking at these may spawn new ideas. If you do not know the words used in the textbook, keep a dictionary handy. Take a look at all the headings in the chapter for an idea as to what is important.

Taking notes from the textbook will help a student learn. Read over the material once, but don’t take any notes. Try to understand the material. If you take notes the first time you read, you will probably take too many.

After reading the information the first time, go back and find the main ideas. Once you do this, take the information and put it in your own words. Put this information in your notebook for future study. Add any details needed to understand the information.

Once you write it down, read over it and decide if you understand what you wrote. If not, go back and look over the textbook.”

http://www.studytips.org/textbookreading.htm   retrieved 9/23/10