Advice from your Professors
"Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember, involve me and I'll understand." Jean Piaget
Time management and self-discipline.
Dr. Dean Amadio: Students should consider their academic responsibilities as a full-time job. In other words, if they're spending roughly 15 hours a week in class, the other 25 hours should be devoted to reading assigned readings, reviewing class notes as soon as possible after class, and generally making sure they understand the material before their instructor moves on to something new. Consistently putting in this effort each week will pay off when it comes time to study for exams.
Dr. Robert Woll: There are 168 hours in a week. Use them wisely. From a psychological perspective on learning, it is known that cramming is NOT efficient. If you are a serious student, then manage your time and priorities in a regular fashion. Many small bites on a big project work much more efficiently. It also reduces your stress level.
Read....read....read. Outside of class assignments, read the professional literature in fields that interest you. Keep track of what you have read. If an assignment comes up where you have some choice about the topic, then you are in a better position to pick something that interests you. Even if you are not that lucky, by the time you consider you future career goals, you will be in a much better position to make a wise selection. It might be an author you read, a topic you understand or an institution which regularly researches a topic; these can all be deciding factors in career choices.
Talk to Professors: Seek out other students AND faculty that you find intellectually stimulating. Creatively go the extra mile to make good things happen.
Dr. Max Levine: Make sure to make good use of your professors. We're here to help you. It's always a great idea to visit your professors during office hours, even if there aren't any serious issues to be discussed. The value of reviewing material in a more personal meeting cannot be overemphasized. Not only will you understand the science of psychology better as it applies to each particular course, you'll show the professor you truly care, and you'll enjoy the learning process even more.
Take advantage of learning opportunities outside the classroom.
Dr. Karen Boswell: One of the great benefits of the college environment is the abundance of programming available on campus. Go to talks (about all sorts of topics, not just psychology-related). Get involved in Psychology Club and participate in its activities. In particular, try to attend the programs offered by the Psychology department on careers and applying to graduate school. Each opportunity is a chance to expand your horizons and get ideas about what interests you—this is particularly important during your early years in college when you don’t yet know what you want to do with your life. Participating in service activities is valuable and is also another way to gain insight into fields that you might want to pursue.
Talk with your advisor throughout the school year:
Students visit their advisors only when it’s time to register for the next semester’s classes. This is not ideal because (a) your advisor is busy trying to meet with all of his or her advisees in a brief period and does not have a lot of time to devote to you thenAdvisors welcome the opportunity to have informal chats with their students; it helps them to get to know you (especially if they don’t have you as a student in any of their classes). It’s perfectly fine to stop in and just talk about how classes are going, what you find interesting and what you don’t like. The better your advisor knows you, the better able he or she will be to offer suggestions about courses that may appeal to you, career paths to think about, graduate programs that could be a good fit for you, research or other opportunities that might interest you.
Dr. Kristen Miller: Use Lectures to Reinforce Your Learning: reading the material before going to class! Your learning will be enhanced if you’re not exposed to the content for the first time during lecture. Use your class to reinforce the concepts you learned during reading and/or clarify those that gave you trouble.
Do a Brief Review of Material After Each Class. Remember the Ebbinghaus forgetting curve? We forget the majority of what we learn within the same day of learning it. Try to minimize what you forget by reviewing your material or perhaps organizing your notes (or study cards) for later studying on the same day that you learned it.
Distribute Your Practice: Your preparation for exams starts when you read the chapter, continues during class, and is greatly enhanced if you work with that material the same day. When exam week rolls around, space your heavy studying across a few days so that the night before an exam you’re only reviewing material.
Get Good Sleep. Getting a full night’s rest every night and operating without a sleep debt has amazing physical and psychological benefits. However, when life intrudes and you can’t get consistent sleep, at the very least review your notes before bed and then get a good night’s rest on the eve of exams Sleep is necessary to solidify your learning; you’ll continue to learn the material while you sleep and be able to better recollect it in the morning.
Live and Love State Dependent Learning. State dependent learning means that people recall information better where and how they initially learned it. Therefore, you want as many internal and external cues to be the same when you’re taking an exam as when you learned the information for the exam. Things that you can do to maximize the effects of state-dependent learning include sitting in the same seat for the exam as you do in class, studying or reviewing your notes in the same classroom as you’ll take the exam (classrooms aren’t locked at night), and matching your physiological state at the time of the exam. This means that if you’re typically well-rested and not hyped-up on caffeine when you learned the information, then you should be in the same state when you take the exam.