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The what, how much, and when of study strategies: comparing intended versus actual study behaviour

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The study behaviours of students can be assessed from several perspectives, such as what study strategies are used, the total number of hours of study, and the distribution of studying over time. Here, we present the results of a survey study that considered each of these perspectives by asking students to report the what, how much, and when of their study behaviours over the course of a semester. As important, to better understand students’ use of study strategies, we also had students report at the beginning of the semester how they intended to study and their beliefs about the effectiveness of a variety of common strategies. Our results indicate that during the semester, students rely on relatively ineffective strategies and mass their studying the day or two before an exam. However, students intended to begin studying earlier and to use a mix of effective and ineffective study habits. Despite their use of some ineffective strategies, they did have a relatively accurate assessment of which strategies were less versus more effective. Taken together, our results suggest that students have some excellent intentions but may falter because massing study the evening before an exam limits their use of more effective study strategies.
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Keywords: Study strategies; distributed practice; intended strategy use; strategy effectiveness

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Psychological Sciences, Kent State University, Kent, OH, USA

Publication date: July 3, 2017

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