Rehearsal Strategies

This week we are looking at "Rehearsal Strategies." Next week we will be furthering the discussion by looking at "Review Strategies."  You may be asking yourself if we will ever be discussing "Study Strategies?"   What people typically refer to as "Study Strategies" are really only one part of Student Strategies for Success.  While they are an important part they are not the only part.  However, since they are so important we will spend time looking at them and how they relate to college success.

Rehearsal skills are not different from the "Rehearsal" skills that actors employ when learning lines for a play or movie.  First the actor is given the lines (usually in the form of a script), they then recognize their lines and rehearse them regularly until they can present them on stage with ease.  This is similar to what I mean by "Rehearsal" in that you have been presented with information (either in a text-book or via lecture) and are now expected to learn the information so well that you can present it on cue (typically through an exam).  We will develop associations and connections as well as interpretations as we learn about "Review Strategies" in a week or so.  For now, we want to make sure that we are learning the information, remembering the information, keeping the information organized and able to present the information (hopefully in our own words) when needed.

A student can rehearse by means of Writing Strategies or Oral Strategies.  Both have their strengths and appropriate place.  Written strategies (such Index Cards-click on the link to see an entry on the
Index Card Method) allow an individual to have the information in their hands and regularly rehearse the needed information, wherever the student happens to be (this is particularly true about Index Cards). Written strategies allow a student to access Visual and Kinesthetic Learning Strategies while rehearsing the information.  Oral Strategies allow a student to access auditory and kinesthetic (as long as your moving while verbally rehearsing).  Oral strategies also lend themselves to group study (which I will talk about later).  So, you can see that both options present some advantages.

Good rehearsal strategies should have the following four characteristics:

1) They Should Allow for Self-Testing.  Are you able to examine your learning using your given strategy?  OR are you simply re-reading the same material over with no means of assessing whether you have learned or remembered the information.  A good strategy allows you to assess, accurately, your retention and memory.  

2) They Include Complete and Precise Information.  Whether you are writing or speaking the information, you should be accurate and precise.  This is not time for "kindof like" or anything similar. 

3) They Are Organized.  Have you ever heard of "garbage in garbage out?"  This is true in rehearsing information.  If you put information into your memory in a disorganized fashion, it will stay disorganized even when you attempt to retrieve the information.  Organize it well at the front end (think about active listening and good note-taking) and you will be much better off.

4) They State the Ideas In Your Own Words.  You will always comprehend, or understand, more if you can state it in your own words and not simply repeat the words of others.  The process of taking information into your brain and attempting to organize and re-state that information into your own words is an active process.  This process leads to better retention and retrieval in the long-run

A few words about groups. Group study is great, but you should be careful.  Most studies have demonstrated that groups do not promote learning as well as independent study.  That being said, some studies have noted that well-organized groups do lend themselves to better results.  Therefore, if you are going to rehearse in groups make sure a few things are straight. First, Groups should be limited in number to 5 or less.  Second, Everyone in the group should have an equal responsibility (no leeches or slackers). Third, Everyone in the group should agree to some ground rules (usually about off-topic conversations) and stick to the rules.

Next week we will discuss Reviewing and attempt to bring in-class and out-of-class activities together to help us better manage our courses and improve our learning.  Good luck.