Lesson 3: Going Deeper With the Study Cycle

Welcome back! As soon as I teach the STudy Cycle, the very next question is, “But how?! How do I encode in new ways? How do I retrieve and test myself?”

That, my friend, will be answered in this section.

Feel free to skim along, or watch the video.

You’re back for more! Good on you. 🙂 

Today we’ll start with a pop quiz:

What are the three steps of the Study Cycle?

Grab a piece of paper and see if you can draw it out now. Let’s see how accurately you remembered it… 

Did you notice, btw, that I am using one of the steps of the Study Cycle — retrieval practice! — to have you practice studying the Study Cycle? 😉 How very meta of me.

Also notice: Did you choose to quiz yourself? Or did you choose to skip this crucial skip in the learning process? If you didn’t quiz yourself, please ask yourself why you chose to skip this oh-so-crucial part of the learning process. After all… all the science proves that testing yourself is the best learning technique there is! So please don’t skip it. Please.

— Dramatic Pause while you practice drawing out the Study Cycle, if you haven’t yet —

Alrighty, in this lesson I’m going to give you a quick refresher in the Study Cycle (after all, repetition is a key to learning, but so is variation, so it’s helpful to hear it again in a slightly different way), and then we’re going to look at how to apply it to study for your next test. 

When I present about the Study Cycle to large groups of students and parents, I like to ask people to reflect: Which part of the Study Cycle am I the best at (I have a lot of tools for doing this, and I feel confident in using them)? Which part of the Study Cycle am I worst at (I have very few tools for doing this step of the Study Cycle, and I lack confidence at this stage)? 

I want you to think about these questions as I re-teach — and help you re-encode — the Study Cycle, and as we go a little deeper with it. 

Step one of the Study Cycle is to Encode, right? That means you are learning something for the first time? It’s your first exposure to the information and skills you are learning. What are ways that students encode information? Here are three ideas:

  • Listening to a lecture or participating in a lesson in class
  • Taking notes while the teacher is lecturing
  • Reading the textbook prior to a lecture
  • What else?

Step two of the Study Cycle is to practice retrieval. Most students are used to teachers giving quizzes or asking them to do warm up activities at the beginning of class that are a form of testing. However, students often think that teachers are the only ones who have the power to test them, and don’t realize that they can wield this power themselves! Why wait for the teacher to test you? Why not beat your teacher to it by quizzing yourself? Here are a few ideas for ways that students can 

  • Instead of being annoyed or scared by the quizzes your teacher gives, get curious about how you performed on the quiz, and notice with interest what you got wrong
  • Before filling out a worksheet for homework, get curious about what you do and don’t know. REad over the worksheet pretending it’s a quiz and see whether you have any guesses about what the answers might be. Then look up all the answers in the textbook to confirm or correct what you do and don’t know.
  • When the teacher hands out a study guide several days before the test, take a moment to quiz yourself on each of the items on the study guide. Prove to yourself what you do and don’t know.
  • What else?

Step three of the Study Cycle is to encode what you don’t know in new ways.

Most people tell me this is their weakest step in the Study Cycle. They really need and want new tools for encoding in new ways. Encoding in the same way (by rereading the text, for example) is so super boring. In my course the Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying, I teach a number of different “encoding in a new way strategies”. Here are three things you might do:

  • Have a study group and teach each other the information you don’t know well
  • Summarize your notes. Make them more condensed (I call this ‘honing your notes” and I teach multiple strategies for doing this in the Anti-Boring Approach course)
  • Draw pictures. 
  • What else can you think of?

Alrighty. Remember that question I asked above? I’ll repeat it again for you:

Which part of the Study Cycle am I the best at (I have a lot of tools for doing this, and I feel confident in using them)? Which part of the Study Cycle am I worst at (I have very few tools for doing this step of the Study Cycle, and I lack confidence at this stage)? 

Most people say that they’re best at the initial encoding, when they first learn the information by paying attention in class or by reading a book. Most people say that they’re worst at encoding in new ways. In fact, they have no idea what I mean about “new” ways? Their toolbox is completely empty for how to make learning varied and anti-boring.

Usually, everyone can benefit by adding to their Strategic Study toolbox — students, parents and teachers. 

Toolbox. There. I said that word again. Would you like to know what tools I recommend every study have in their toolbox? 

  • Toolkit #1 – Understand the Brain Science Behind Learning
  • Toolkit #2 – Encode Info Using All the Study Senses 
  • Toolkit #3 – Encode Info By Taking Powerful Notes 
  • Toolkit #4 – Retrieve Info With Quizzabile Study Tools
  • Toolkit #5 – Make Rock Solid Study Plans
  • Toolkit #6 – Overcome Procrastination (so you follow through on your plans)

Together, these six toolkits make up The Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying. If you’ve got a bunch of your own tools in each of these categories, awesome! Take the Study Cycle and run with it!! 

Some of you might be thinking, right about now:

Wow. Yeah. My toolbox is really empty. I need some help. 

If that’s you, students, I’d like to encourage you to work through my online course The Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying. Here’s a picture of all the tools you will learn.

Can you imagine what it would be like if your own toolbox were overflowing with all these tools? No matter what your educational life throws at you, you’d have a tool to handle it.

In my experiences, students who learn the Anti-Boring Approach toolkit experience the following awesome benefits.

Students, are you ready to be more confident? Less anxious? More able to handle whatever teachers throw your way? More independent?

    Do you want to struggle less with homework? Have more time for your personal life? Advocate better with your teachers and parents? 

    If so, the Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying may be exactly what you need. 

    Click here to find out more about the Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying. 

    Students and parents, this is the end of your journey inside this free course. 

    Note: Add a story about a student who tried the Study Cycle and it works for them. 

    Educators, I’ve got one more lesson for you (parents, you might also find this interesting). Many of you hve students who aren’t yet self motivated, and need a little encouragement to learn how to study strategically. In the next lesson, I’ll talk directly to you about how to share the Study Cycle 

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