The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped nearly every aspect of education in recent months, and students have continued navigating new challenges and adapting to changing circumstances as the school year resumes. With the shift to remote learning, independent study skills—including goal setting and time management—have become more important than ever before. Furthermore, students are spending more time independently reading textbooks and watching video lectures at home, which can make focus and retention more challenging than usual.
Read on for 10 tips students can follow when classes move online. (Download our one-page guide below.)
Reading the right way can improve your comprehension and retention while also saving you time.
- Peek at the spoilers. Before you begin reading a chapter, prime your brain by looking ahead at the comprehension questions and final summary that wrap up the chapter. Scan the headings, subheadings, and bolded terms throughout the chapter before circling back to the first page.
- Read actively. Highlight and underline key information while you read. Pause after each chunk of text to take notes and confirm you understand what you have just read.
Learning from video lectures
It's possible for video lectures to be active rather than passive learning experiences for students. Here are a few simple steps you can take to keep yourself engaged and maximize your learning.
- Avoid distractions. When watching a video lecture, put away other devices and close distracting tabs and apps.
- Actively listen. Pay attention to your teacher’s verbal cues. Listen for voice or volume changes, and write down important definitions, lists, and key phrases that are repeated. Pause recorded lectures every 5-10 minutes to summarize main ideas.
- Ask questions. Find out how you can ask questions (chat, discussion forum, email, etc.), and make a list of questions as you watch the lecture. Asking your questions immediately afterward, while the content is fresh in your mind, will put you in a better position to understand your teacher’s answers.
Learning how to help yourself stay focused when working independently at home can help you maximize your time and better understand what you're studying.
- Avoid multitasking. Focusing on one task at a time helps you to work more quickly and make fewer mistakes.
- Monitor your understanding. As you work, ask yourself, “Do I understand how the information is presented? Does this connect to anything I already know?” Make a list of any points of confusion and follow up with your teacher or tutor for clarification.
- Take regular breaks. Short breaks every 30-40 minutes can help you physically and mentally reset and recharge. Take a few minutes to stretch your legs and rest your eye muscles. After the break, refocus yourself by recalling the last step you completed and the next step you should work on.
Now that you know how to maximize your learning, it's helpful to think about how you'll make sure you remember what you've learned.
- Review sooner rather than later. Forgetting happens most rapidly immediately after learning. Spend 5 minutes at the end of a lesson or study session to review your major takeaways, and return to the material again within 24 hours.
- Rinse and repeat. Frequent repetition improves long-term memory and recall. Regularly returning to the material and spacing out your review sessions saves you time because you can avoid having to relearn forgotten concepts from scratch later on.
Navigating this new learning environment isn't easy, but we're here to help.
To fill the gaps of a school year that’s not operating at full power, we've developed a new, four-part Academic Mentorship program. The program focuses on the independent study skills that our experts know students need to succeed in online learning. To learn more, reach out to us here.
Need more individualized advice?
The recommendations above are general suggestions. If you have specific questions, reach out to our experts here. We’re happy to help in any way we can.
ArborBridge is the global leader in innovative, digital, one-on-one tutoring. With nearly a decade of experience teaching students online, ArborBridge supports students of all kinds: home schoolers, AP students, test preppers, and more. Our tutors specialize in creating personalized plans and in providing compassionate support for students and families.