The Study Habits of 80 Students


Ranked from highest ( 1 being the highest choice) to lowest choices – 80 students chose their top three guidelines for becoming a successful student.


Numbers 5 and 8 = ranked 1 – (24 responses)

Numbers 19 and 21 = ranked 2 – (20 responses)

Number 28 = ranked 3 – (16 responses)

Number 13 = ranked 4 – (15 responses)

Number 22 = ranked 5 – (13 responses)

Numbers 1 and 26 = ranked 6 – (12 responses)

Number 20 = ranked 7 – (11 responses)

Numbers 6 and 12 = ranked 8 – (10 responses)

Numbers 7 and 23 = ranked 9 – (7 responses)

Number 24 = ranked 10 – (6 responses)

Numbers 2, 9, 11, and 17 = ranked 11- (5 responses)

Number 27 = ranked 12 – (3 responses)

Numbers 4, 10, and 15 = ranked 13 – (2 responses)

Number 3 = ranked 14 – (1 response)

Numbers 14, 16, 18, and 25 = ranked 15 – (0 responses)


Becoming a Masterful/Successful Student

Part I:   Numbers 2, 5, 6, and 8 had the most responses for the first class while 2, 5, 8, 19, and 21 had the most responses by the second class; and for the combined classes the high number chosen were 5, 8, 19, and 21. Whereas, reading the (text book), writing, perceiving the underlying key concepts and interconnections of knowledge among various disciplines, reviewing material, and using intellectual benchmarks ( the essence of critical thinking ) had the fewest responses for both classes, and thus, were not perceived as effective ways of learning.

  1. Make sure you thoroughly understand the requirements of each class, how it will be taught, and what will be expected of you. Ask questions about the grading policies and for advice on how best to prepare for class. Two students— Three students—Five student = 10 students total


  1. Become an active learner. Be prepared to work into your thinking by active reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Four students—Five students — Four students = 13 students total


  1. Seek to find the key concepts of the course during the first couple of class meetings. Fundamental ideas are the basis for all other ideas. Observation: one wonders if the students miss understanding the essential objectives and goals of the course.   No students – One student – No students = 1 student total


  1. Think of each subject you study as a form of thinking, for example, in your various classes think in terms of trends and issues and causes and effect, and how they impact you and society in general; and how your courses are interrelated. One student – One student- No students = 2 students total


  1. Become a questioner. Engage yourself in lectures and discussions by asking questions. If you do not ask questions, you will probably not discover what you do and do not know. Overcome the fear or anxiety of what will others think. One good question is worth a thousand answers. The question you ask may well be the question which is on the minds of others. Five students- Ten students-Nine students = 24 students


  1. Routinely ask questions to fill in the missing pieces in your learning. Can you elaborate further on this idea? Can you give an example? If you don’t have examples, you are not connecting what you are learning to your personal and/or professional life. Four students – Three students- Three students = 10 students total


  1. Look for interconnections. The content in every class is always a system of interconnected ideas, never a random and isolated list of material to memorize. Don’t memorize like a parrot. Study like a detective, relating new learning to previous learning. No students – One student—Six students = 7 students total


  1. Relate content whenever possible to issues and problems and especially practical situations in your life. If you can’t relate it to your personal and/ or professional life, then you don’t understand the content. You may know about it or of it, but not know and understand it in your own words. Five students – Seven students – Twelve students = 24 students total.    Observation – one would think numbers 7 and 8 would reinforce one another – do we learn in silos as number 7 might suggest? –


  1. Think of your instructor as a coach. Think of yourself as a team member trying to practice the thinking and articulation exemplified by your instructor. One student – Three students-One student = 5 students total


10. Think about the textbook as the thinking of the author. Your challenge is to critique the thinking of the author who might have a conservative or liberal bias. You do not have to accept everything the author states; you may detect the biases of the author either openly or discreetly. What are the main points of the paragraph? Read with an understanding heart and a critical mind. Iron sharpens iron. No students – One student – One student = 2 students total.  Observation – one wonders if this reflects students’ tendencies to not like to read all that much


 11. Consider class time as a time in which you practice thinking using the fundamental concepts and principles of the course. Don’t sit back passively, waiting for knowledge to fall into your head like water into a glass. No students – Two students – One student – Two students = 5 students total. Observation – one wonders if students have been conditioned over the years to be passive learners while listening to lectures?


12. Figure out what study and learning skills you are not good at. Practice those skills whenever possible. Recognizing and correcting your weakness is a strength and gives you an advantage in the learning process. Go to the skills lab and ask for a study skills’ workbook — very helpful. – Two students- Four students- Four students = 10 students


13. Frequently ask yourself, “Can I explain this idea to someone not in class?” From time to time, do you share with others something you have learned in class? Two students – Five students- Eight students = 15 students total


 14. Test yourself before you come to class by trying to summarize, orally, or in writing, the main points of the previous class meeting; if you cannot summarize, you have not learned the main ideas; student e-mails should help in this matter. No students – No students – No students = 0 students;  Observation – I notice students who come to class 15 minutes before are focusing on their phones and not reviewing a chapter that might have been assigned.


15. Learn to test your thinking using intellectual benchmarks: “Am I being clear? Accurate? Precise? Relevant? Logical? Am I looking for what is most significant?” One student- No students – One student = 2 students.    Observation – these intellectual benchmarks are fundamental to critical thinking


 16. Using writing as a way to learn by writing summaries in your own words of important points from the text or other reading materials. Make up questions. Write out answers to your own questions. – No students – No students; No students = 0 students total.  Observation – one wonders if writing is becoming a lost art?


17. Frequently evaluate your listening. Are you actively listening for main points? Can you summarize what your instructor is saying in your own words? Can you elaborate what is meant by key terms? Two students – Two students – One student = 5 students total


18.  Frequently evaluate your reading. Are you reading the text actively or mindlessly? Are you asking questions as you read? Can you distinguish what you understand from what you don’t? No students – No students – No students = 0 students total.     Observation: again, this may reflect the students’ lack of interest in reading, especially when it comes to a text book


19. Make an effort maintain a regular sleep pattern of 8 hours or so. Three students – Six students – Eleven students = 20 students total


20. Make an effort to eat a balanced diet, to exercise at least three times a week to mend the mind and mind the body, otherwise, numbers 1 through 18 may suffer as a consequence. Two students – Two students – Seven students = 11 students total


An adaptation from The Foundation for Critical Thinking — Dr. Linda Elder and Dr. Richard Paul.



Part 2 –   Numbers 1, 6, and 8 – most responses- here, the responses were more favorable as related to their psychological well-being; for the second class, numbers 1,2 and 8 were similar to class one, however, numbers 4, 5, and 7 had no responses.


21. Successful students accept personal responsibility, seeing themselves as the primary cause of their outcomes and experiences; Three students – Six students- Eleven students = 20 students total


22. Successful students discover self-motivation, finding purpose in their lives by discovering personally meaningful goals and dreams; Two students – Four students – Seven students = 13 students total


23. Successful students master self-management, consistently planning and taking purposeful actions in pursuit of their goals and dreams; One student – Two students- Four students = 7 students total


24. Successful students employ interdependence, building mutually supportive relationships that help them achieve their goals and dreams; One student – No students- Five students = 6 students total


25. Successful students gain self-awareness, consciously employing behaviors, beliefs, and attitudes that keep them on course; No students – No students – No students= 0 students total


26. Successful students adopt lifelong learning, finding valuable lessons and wisdom in nearly every experience they have; Five students – Two students – Five students = 12 students total


27. Successful students develop emotional intelligence, effectively managing their emotions in support of their goals and dreams; One student- No students – Two students = 3 students total


28. Successful students believe in themselves, seeing themselves as capable, lovable, and worthy human beings; Four studentsThree students – Nine students = 16 students total




Roger J. Vanden Busch — April 14,2014


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