Study is the wrong word

You are probably already wondering what I mean by ‘Study is the wrong word’?  I can give you many reasons why I think this word is not the right word to use when talking to students about their learning and the information they are required to remember.

Organising Students - Study is the wrong word - image of a girl doing some studyStudy often gets interchanged or added with the word revision, and whilst I and you might understand what both words really mean, many students don’t.   I regularly hear parents tell their children if they don’t have homework they should be making time for study or revision too.  As well as this, so often students are told by their teachers to study or revise throughout the school year on top of completing their homework.  Some schools even go as far as quantifying how long they should spend depending upon the year level they are in ie Year 11 & 12 should be doing 3 hours a night and so on.   In my experience I usually put quality over quantity and a blog I wrote about this will give you more information on this specifically.

The word I like to use when working with my students is the term ‘Practice’.  Practice is a much better way to describe what a student should be doing when it comes to improving and consolidating their learning.  I usually find that students understand the word Practice as they have usually:

  • learnt to ride a bike which involved lots of practice at the time to be able to do it
  • played a sport that has regular training and by attending this one can continue to learn and improve their skills
  • played a musical instrument that requires practice in order to learn to play a particular piece of music better
  • and the list goes on and on …… where students are usually doing something to improve their skills.

By using the term Practice instead of study and revision a student tends to know what that means ie I need to practice what I have learnt to make sure I know it or I need to practice in order to get better at knowing it.  It is a much more of a familiar concept to them and one that they usually understand and grasp much easier.

One of my colleagues in the USA, Leslie Josel, taught me the idea of changing this term with my students many years ago.  Some other ways she has also explained it include:

  • it means to get better at something
  • there’s a process to follow or another way of putting it is that you need to follow steps to get where you want to go
  • it is results oriented – a student can see progression and if they do they are more likely to be motivated and succeed
  • there is a beginning, middle and an end to practice where as study seems so open ended
  • it can become a habit when you learn to do something and then you often just do it without even having to think about it.

Organising Students - Study is the wrong word - a student completing a multiple choice practice testI also believe that the term practice can be broken down more specifically towards tasks better than the term study or revision too.  For example one could say to a student you need to study for your exam but what does that really mean?  Where as a better way to put it would be, in order to prepare for your exam it would be a good idea to do practice questions.  This way they know exactly what it is that they need to do and funny enough are more likely to do it!

So the next time you go to use the term study or revision with your child, think again and replace it with the term Practice and see if that makes more sense to them!

To discuss this or something else that I might be able to assist your child with please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me via email – amanda@organisingstudents.com.au or give me a call on 0409 967 166.