Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Value of Study Partners

“What can I do to make better grades?” When answering this often asked question, we first focus on study skills. If you are not already using the help of another person to study, finding a study partner may make a considerable difference. When students have to verbalize their answers to another person, the experience resembles the test taking experience much better than studying alone. The accountability provides a much better test practice scenario, and it gives the student a better assessment of their actual level of preparedness for the test.

Who is the best study partner? For many reasons, mom or dad do the best at getting the job done. You can read about the reasons why in "Why Parents Make the Best Study Partners," but the main reason involves the motivation parents have in making sure their children do well in school. If a parent is not available, siblings and friends can be effective study partners. As long as study partners are advanced enough to read the material and check their partners’ accuracy, they can help.

Study partners have to be responsible enough to thoroughly work together until the content is learned. For example, two students may be quizzing each other with their study guides for a history test. If a student misses a question, the partner needs to repeat the question periodically until it is answered correctly. If partners are helping each other with math problems, they need to be willing to stick with the task until each partner fully understands and works the problems alone. Study partners need to do more than give advise; they need to help each other until problems can be performed independently.

Students of all ages can benefit from partnerships, but younger children may require more instruction and supervision. For instance, third graders may need instructions like, “Quiz each other with multiplication flash cards; switch once someone has answered correctly ten times; both of you must complete six rounds each.” Older students who are already acquainted with rigorous, Christian school academics know how to study for the test, but they may need supervision to make sure time is used wisely.

Partners need to learn how to give clues before simply giving away an answer. They should help each other think of cues and mnemonics to help them remember difficult content. This is how the Guinness World Records holder, Chao Lu, memorized over 67,000 digits of pi. The sillier the association or cue, the better students will remember them.

Research reveals that students who study with a parent outperform those who study alone, but the research also reveals that students who perform the best study with a parent and a peer. Perhaps it’s time to increase your use of study partners.

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