College students transfer ineffective ‘paper-based’ study strategies to computer-based materials, study finds

CNN reports:

Despite the prevalence of technology on campuses, a new study indicates that computers alone can’t keep students from falling into their same weak study habits from their ink-and-paper days.”Our study showed that achievement really takes off when students are prompted to use more powerful strategies when studying computer materials,” said the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Ken Kiewra, an expert in study methods and one of the authors of the study.

The research, published this week in The Journal of Educational Psychology, found that students tend to study on computers as they would with traditional texts: They mindlessly over-copy long passages verbatim, take incomplete or linear notes, build lengthy outlines that make it difficult to connect related information, and rely on memory drills like re-reading text or recopying notes.

Meanwhile, undergraduates in the study scored 29 to 63 percentage points higher on tests when they used study techniques like recording complete notes, creating comparative charts, building associations, and crafting practice questions on their screens.

The article, by Jairam & Kiewra, is available here from the Journal of Educational Psychology (free preview of abstract; subscription required to read paper).

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