Passive v active study strategies for students

Do you as a parent really understand the difference between passive v active study strategies for students?  If you answered no to this question you are not alone.  Unfortunately many of our children also don’t understand the difference and this needs to change.

When I meet with students, both in a school and home environment, I am astounded at how many of them actually often only use passive study strategies.

So what is the difference?

Passive study strategies

Passive studying is what the majority of students do when it comes to studying information for a test, SAC or exam.  This usually involves a student adopting strategies of:

  • reading over their notespassive v active study strategies for students - image of a student highlighting notes
  • re-reading information in a text book
  • highlighting large chunks of information
  • listening to information
  • watching a demonstration or documentary

A student usually thinks that if they do these things over and over that is all they need to do.

A passive approach, like that described above, creates an illusion of knowing for a student which means that by reading over information it is familiar to them and therefore they believe they know it.  Unfortunately, as an academic life coach, I see this happen way to often.  What actually happens is that when a student has a test, SAC or exam and needs to recall information they think they know, it is NOT stored in their long term memory and they struggle to provide the answers required.  Naturally they then do not receive the marks they think they should have as a result.  Passive studying is not effective for long term retention of information in any way!

Active study strategies

Active studying is adopting an approach whereby a student actively tests their knowledge of material learnt.  While rereading notes still has a role to play those students who take it a step further by actually engaging with the information and adopting active strategies (noted below) are more likely to achieve better results.quote learning to study smarter not harder - and how it is about adopting Passive v active study strategies for students

Active strategies include:

  • rewriting and revising notes into their ‘own words’
  • making outlines
  • using flashcards
  • teaching the material to someone
  • answering practice problems

By adopting the above approaches, a student is more likely to gain a greater understanding of the information and material, whilst strengthening their long term memory, and be able to respond better in test, SAC or exam situations.

As I regularly tell the students I work with it is all about studying smarter not harder and by adopting active study strategies you are giving yourself a much better chance of receiving the marks you want.  The more active the study method you use the more prepared you are likely to be able to respond and do well in a test, SAC or exam situation.

For more information on how I can support your child with their learning/studying and ensure they have the necessary tools & strategies to succeed please get in touch.