In class

A partial list of references

"Some students attribute their academic failure to such factors as low aptitude, unavailability of resources, and bad luck. However, we can say that the most important factor playing a role in academic success is students’ little acquaintance with learning and study skills."

Fetemeh Shahidi, A study on the quality of study skills of newly-admitted students of Fasa University of Medical Sciences J Adv Med Educ Prof. Vol 2 No 1 (2014).

Here are some of the important references we used in building Study Swami. These are either insightful or wildly distracting.


  • Excellent information about learning, and lot of good stuff about teaching as well:
  • Mayer, Richard E. (2008) Learning and Instruction (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education Inc.
  • The Boston Globe brought this book to my attention when they said that Harvard had a special program that used it:
  • Luckie, William R. and Smethurst, Wood. (1998). Study Power. Brookline, MA: Brookline Books.
  • A lot of students have been inspired by this one (she also has a course on Coursera that is quite popular):
  • Oakley, Barbara (2014). A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even If You Flunked Algebra). New York, NY: Penguin Group.
  • A good update on the "why" of it all:
  • Brown, Peter C., Roediger III, Henry L., McDaniel, Mark A. (2014). Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • This guy's style resonates positively with many students:
  • Newport, Cal. (2007). How to Become a Straight-A Student: The Unconventional Strategies Real College Students Use to Score High While Studying Less. New York, NY: Broadway Books.
  • "Revise" is British for "Review", especially for monster tests like finals. Geared towards UK High School students, but nevertheless useful for college students who are new to the whole 'study thing':
  • Chapman, David. (2015). The Lazy Student's Revision Guide. Kesteven Media.
  • Of course, the ineffable classic:
  • Polya, G. (1957). How to Solve It (2nd ed.). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  • A couple on specific issues:
  • Ratey, Nancy A. (2008). The Disorganized Mind: Coaching Your ADHD Brain to Take Control of Your Time, Tasks, and Talents. New York, NY: St. Martin's Press.
  • Cooper-Kahn, Joyce, and Deitzel, Laurie C. (2008) Late, Lost, and Unprepared: A Parent's Guide to Helping Children with Executive Functioning. Bethesda, MD: Woodbine House.


  • So here's the bottom line: Study skills can help, but the student better be committed. If not, interventions produce short-lived results:
  • Stegers-Jager, Karen M., Cohen-Schotanus, Janke, Themmen, Axel P.N. (2013). The effect of a short integrated study skills programme for first-year medical students at risk of failure: A randomised controlled trial. Med. Teach., 35 pp. 120-126.
  • Interleaving and spacing effects. If you are trying to learn three things A, B, and C, should you study AAA, BBB, CCC or ABC, ABC, ABC? Also, how long should you wait before you come back to review? Note: A lot of these studies are done on young children.
  • Carvalho, Paulo F. and Goldstone, Robert. L. (2015). What you learn is more than what you see: what can sequencing effects tell us about inductive category learning? Front. Psychol. 6:505. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00505
  • Cepeda, Nicholas J., Vul, Edward, Rohrer, Doug, Wixted, John T. and Pashler, Harold. (2008). Spacing effects in learning: A temporal ridgeline of optimal retention. Psyc. Sci. 11, 1095-1102. (In press version).
  • Rorher, Doug, Dedrick, Robert F., Burgess, Kaleena. (2014). The benefit of interleaved mathematics practice is not limited to superficially similar kinds of problems. Psychon. Bull. Rev. DOI: 10.3758/s13423-014-0588-3
  • Zulkiply, Norehan, and Burt, Jennifer S. (2012). The exemplar interleaving effect in inductive learning: Moderation by the difficulty of category discriminations. Mem Cogn. DOI 10.3758/s13421-012-0238-9

"[Theories of learning agree] in their recognition that the journey toward competence or proficiency requires strategic tools.... Students do not come equipped with the cognitive and metacognitive/self-regulatory strategies they need. Such strategies must be aquired and practiced in [authentic] situations.... Further, students must be encouraged to modify and combine strategies in ways that [work]."

Patricia A. Alexander, The Development of Expertise: The Journey From Acclimation to Proficiency, Educational Researcher Vol. 32 No. 8 (2003).

  • General study skills:
  • Alexander, Patricia A. (2003). The development of expertise: The journey from acclimation to proficiency. Ed. Resrch. 32:8, p. 10.
  • Dinsmore, Daniel I. and Alexander, Patricia. (2012). A Critical Discussion of Deep and Surface Processing: What It Means, How It Is Measured, the Role of Context, and Model Specification. Educ. Psychol. Rev. 24:499–567 DOI 10.1007/s10648-012-9198-7
  • Gross, Melissa, Latham, Don, Armstrong, Bonnie. (2012) Improving below-proficient information literacy skills: designing an evidence-based educational intervention. Coll. Teach. G: 60, pp. 104–111.
  • Murdoch-Eaton, Deborah, and Whittle, Sue. (2012). Generic skills in medical education: developing the tools for successful lifelong learning. Medical Education 46, pp. 120–128
  • Rahim, Nasrudin and Meon, Hasni. (2013). Relationships between study skills and academic performance. AIP Conf. Proc. 1522, 1176-1178 (2013); doi: 10.1063/1.4801264
  • Richardson, Judy S., Robnolt, Valerie J., Rhodes, Joan A. (2010). A history of study skills: Not hot, but not forgotten. Reading Improvement. 47:2 p. 111.
  • Shahidi, Fatemeh, Dowlatkhah, Hamid Reza, Avand, Abolghasem, Musavi, Seyed Reza, and Mohammadi, Elaheh. (2014). A study on the quality of study skills of newly-admitted students of Fasa University of Medical Sciences. J Adv Med Educ Prof. 2:1, p. 45.
  • Contrary to the tone of the Dinsmore and Alexander paper above, when learning some things for certain types of tests, you can get better grades if you take a surface approach (cue music from The Exorcist):
  • Stegers-Jager, Karen M., Cohen-Schotanus, Janke, Themmen, Axel P.N. (2012). Motivation, learning strategies, participaton and medical school performance. Medical Education. 46 pp. 678–688
  • "[For self-regulated learners] learning is viewed as an activity that students do for themselves in a proactive way rather than as a covert event that happens to them in reaction to teaching.

    Barry J. Zimmerman, Becoming a Self-Regulated Learner: An Overview, Theory Into Practice Vol. 41 No. 2 (2002).

  • A big difference between "expert" learners and "novice" learners is how much ownership they take of the learning process.
  • Zimmerman, Barry J. (2002). Becoming a Self-Regulated Learner: An Overview. Theory Into Practice. 41:2, pp. 64-70
  • Bjork, Robert A, Dunlosky, John, and Kornell, Nate. (2013). Self-Regulated Learning: Beliefs, Techniques, and Illusions. Annu. Rev. Psychol. 64, pp. 417-464
  • Schwartz, Michael Hunter. (2003). Teaching Law Students to be Self-Regulated Learners. Mich. St. DCL L. Rev. pp. 447-505.
    Available at SSRN:
  • Some based from teacher perspective and have to be inverted for the students to self-apply:
  • Deans for Impact (2015). The Science of Learning. Austin, TX: Deans for Impact
  • Lerner, Jennifer E. (2007). Teaching students to Learn: Developing metacognitive skills with a learning assessment. College Teaching. 55:1, p40
  • Tate, Simon, and Swords, Jon. (2013). Please mind the gap: students’ perspectives of the transition in academic skills between A-level and degree-level geography. J. Geog. in Higher Ed. 37:2, pp. 230–240
  • Australian Transportation Safety Board put out a manual on training. Notes on the importance of metacognition:
  • Thomas, Matthew J.W. (2004). Error Management Training: Defining Best Practice. ATSB Aviation Safety Research Grant Scheme Project 2004/0050

"[O]ne of the more important motivational beliefs for student achievement is self-efficacy, which concerns beliefs about capabilities...."

Elizabeth A. Linnenbrink and Paul R. Pintrich, Motivation as an Enabler for Academic Success, School Psychology Review Vol. 31 No. 3 (2002).

  • Looking at motivation as having four subfactors (academic self-efficacy, attributions, intrinsic motivation, and achievement goals):
  • Linnenbrink, Elizabeth A. and Pintrich, Paul R. (2002). Motivation as an enabler for academic success. School Psyc. Rev. 31:3, p. 313.
  • From the point of view of what the instructor can do:
  • Williams, Kaylene C. and Williams, Caroline C. (2011) Five key ingredients for improving student motivation. Res. High. Ed. Journ. (Aug.) p. 104.
  • From our "doesn't play well with the other kids" department, evidence that the ability to store and retrieve memory is more closely linked to fluid intelligence than working memory:
  • Mogle, Jacqueline A., Lovett, Benjamin J., Stawski, Robert S., Sliwinski, Martin J. (2008). What's so special about working memory? A examination of the relationships among working memory, secondary memory, and fluid intelligence. Psyc. Sci. 19:11 p.1071.
  • More correlation than tested causation, but those with stronger study skills do better:
  • DeZoysa, Anura, Chandrakumara, Palli Mulla K.A., Rudkin, Kathleen. (2014). Learning and study strategies affecting the performance of undergraduate management accounting students in an Australian university. AFAANZ Conference (pp. 1-9). Australia: AFAANZ
  • Intriguing title, but note that this is about motor learning. Does it generalize?
  • Wulf, Gabriele, and Shea, Charles H. (2002). Principles derived from the study of simple skills do not generalize to complex skill learning. Psychonomic Bull. & Rev. 9: 2, pp. 185-211
  • Note-taking is a complex skill and is seldom explicity taught:
  • Boch, Françoise and Piolat, Annie. (2005). Note taking and learning: A summary of research. The WAC Journal, 16, p. 101.
  • Group work often fails to achieve its goals. Here's to trying to make it worthwhile:
  • Khosa, Deep K. and Volet, Simone E. (2013). Promoting effective collaborative case-based learning at university: a metacognitive intervention. 38: 6, pp.870–889.
  • Shukor, N. A, Tasir, Z., Van der Meijden, H., & Harun, J. (2014). Exploring Students’ Knowledge Construction Strategies in Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning Discussions Using Sequential Analysis. Educational Technology & Society, 17:4, pp. 216–228.
  • Delucchi, Michael. (2007). Assessing the impact of group projects on examination performance in social statistics. Teach. Higher Ed., 12:4, pp. 447-460
  • van Schalkwyk, Gertina J. (2015). Doing Outcomes-Based Collaborative Teaching and Learning in Asia. New Directions for Teaching and Learning. 142, p. 41.
  • Lee, Hye-Jung and Lim, Cheolil. (2012). Peer Evaluation in Blended Team Project-Based Learning: What Do Students Find Important?. Ed. Tech. & Society, 15:4, pp. 214–224.
  • Graham, Jeanine. (1999). Individual effort: Collective outcome: A case study of group teaching strategies in history. Innov. Ed. & Training International, 36:3, p205.
  • Hajra, Sayonita Ghosh, and Das, Ujjaini. (2015). Undergraduate students' perceptions of collaborative learning in a differential equations mathematics course. College Student Journal, 49:4, pp. 610-618.
  • A fun read on student evals from the professor's point of view:
  • Raimi, Ralph A. (1989). A misdirected lesson: Student evaluations and learning how to learn. Academic Questions, 2:3, p69.

"Many high-achieving students do not question their academic success. They do well and are content with the study skills they have developed to ensure that they achieve their goals. However, these students, whose high schools considered them achievers, experience difficulties and sometimes failure in situations where they had previously experienced success."

Megan Balduf, Underachievement Among College Students, Journal of Advanced Academics, Vol. 20, No. 2, Winter (2009).

  • Gifted high school students are at risk:
  • Balduf, Megan. (2009). Underachievement among college students. J. Adv. Academics 20:2 pp.274-294.

"Apart from academic self-concept, effective learning strategies also play a critical part in students' academic achievement. Research has shown that the learning strategies a student adopts for learning an academic task influence the quality of learning outcomes achieved."

Dennis M. McInerney, Rebecca Wing-yi Cheng, Magdalena Mo Ching Mok, and Amy Kwok Hap Lam, Academic Self-Concept and Learning Strategies: Direction of Effect on Student Academic Achievement, Journal of Advanced Academics, Vol. 23, No. 3, (2012).

  • The attitudes of the student play a role in how they approach their work and which strategies they adopt, which in turn plays a role in how well they do. In turn, skilled study techniques lead to confidence and motivation:
  • Donche, Vincent, De Maeyer, Sven, Coertjens, Liesje, Van Daal, Tine, and Van Petegem, Peter. (2013). Differential use of learning strategies in first-year higher education: The impact of personality, academic motivation, and teaching strategies. Brit. J. Ed. Psych., 83, pp. 238–251.
  • Job, Veronika, Walton, Gregory M., Bernecker, Katharina, and Dweck, Carol S. (2015). Implicit Theories About Willpower Predict Self-Regulation and Grades in Everyday Life. J. Personality and Soc. Psyc. 108: 4, 637– 647.
  • McInerney, Dennis M., Cheng, Rebecca Wing-yi, Mok, Magdalena Mo Ching, and Lam, Amy Kwok Hap. (2012). Academic Self-Concept and Learning Strategies: Direction of Effect on Student Academic Achievement, J. Adv. Acad., 23:3, p.249.
  • Putwain, Dave, Sander, Paul, and Larkin, Derek. (2013). Academic self-efficacy in study-related skills and behaviours: Relations with learning-related emotions and academic success. Brit. J. Ed. Psyc., 83, pp. 633–650
  • Vermunt, Jan D. and Vermetten, Yvonne J. (2004). Patterns in Student Learning: Relationships Between Learning Strategies, Conceptions of Learning, and Learning Orientations. Ed. Psych. Rev., 16:4, p.359.
  • More from our "doesn't play well with the other kids" department. The mindset theory (Dweck) is not without its critics (study of 10-12 year olds):
  • Li, Yu and Bates, Timothy. (2017). Does mindset affect children’s ability, school achievement, or response to challenge? Three failures to replicate. Retrieved from
    Link to paper