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Lifelong learners

Posted on 29 January 2021

The Churchie Research Centre is continuing world-leading research into the study skills of high school students and the science of learning, working with leading universities to empower students to be lifelong learners.
The initial project, Making Effective Learning Strategies Stick, saw the development of learning strategies based on cognitive and educational psychological principles pertaining to information retention and memory. The learner’s toolkit was developed and taught to provide students with effective study techniques for revision and exam preparation.
Commencing last year, the Academic Skills and Mentoring (ASM) programme has broadened the School’s study skills curriculum. With regular mentoring, explicit scaffolding and guided planning, ASM targets Years 7 to 12 students, helping students to develop effective study strategies at different stages of the learning cycle in each subject—a coherent programme promoting excellence in learning across the Senior School.
Visualisation techniques help students with knowledge retention and allow them to connect ideas more effectively. Flashcards, particularly for science and languages, are also highly effective, especially when used over a stretch of time, helping to develop long-term memory and better enabling higher-order thinking.
The project continues to partner with the UQ Science of Learning Research Centre and has added UQ’s School of Education and the Psychological and Brain Sciences department at Washington University.
The focus of the research continues to be the development and evaluation of learning behaviours and study skills. The aim is to produce lifelong learners who move from high school into the tertiary environment and beyond, in a motivated, self‑efficacious and resilient way.
Year 11 students Thomas Rosengren and William Harris were the leading scholars of the IB and QCE cohorts respectively. In Year 9, they completed the effective study skills programme and were introduced to the toolkit of learning strategies that continue to help them today.
Thomas and William share the lessons they have learned and their tips for successful study.


William Harris

What has had the most significant impact on your success this year?
My success has been due to organising my co‑curricular and academic commitments with a day-by-day study planner.
Describe your weekly planning process balancing study with your other commitments.
On Sunday afternoons, I use a Microsoft Word template to insert training times, social commitments and appointments. By reading through my lesson timetable and exam schedules, I identify where larger study sessions or homework tasks will be needed for particular nights. By doing so, I can prepare myself early in the week to fill in any spare time-periods where academic and sporting commitments clash.
What is your best study strategy?
I use the quick review method throughout the term as it allows me to quickly retrieve information from previous weeks and, hence, refreshes me on older content to gain a more solid understanding of the topic. I believe the strength of this strategy is its ability to spread work evenly throughout the term. It then becomes easier to focus on my weaknesses and harder questions prior to an exam.
When have you ‘failed’ at something, and what did you learn from the experience?
A recent injury prevented me from participating in a lot of sport this year; I failed at being able to compete at my best. The experience did give me a lot more time and, with this, I learned how to effectively manage my study, while allocating time for rest and recovery.
What is the ‘one thing’ that you have learned about study that you wish you knew earlier?
It may be difficult but starting assignments or revision as early as possible allows me to break these things into manageable pieces to avoid cramming near due dates.
How do you motivate yourself to study?
I remind myself that if I don’t do the work now, my workloads will only increase later.

Thomas Rosengren

Describe your weekly planning process balancing study with your other commitments.
At the beginning of every week, I write out all my co-curricular commitments to visualise the week and plan when I’m going to study. I list subjects and rank them in order of importance. I then allocate time for each subject accordingly.
What is your best study strategy?
The main strategy I use across multiple subjects is identifying and focusing on my weaknesses. I do practice questions on those topics. This helps me cover the content efficiently, as I focus on a topic until I fully understand it and feel confident about it.
When have you ‘failed’ at something, and what did you learn from the experience?
I failed a diagnostic chemistry test in Term 3 because I didn’t take it seriously enough. While it didn’t count towards a final mark, it was still disappointing, and I realised I should be taking study more seriously. I learned that it is in my best interest to study from the beginning rather than wait until the important exams.
What is the ‘one thing’ that you have learned about study that you wish you knew earlier?
I wish I knew earlier the importance of studying throughout the course. In the younger grades, cramming got me through my exams. However, this was not the case in Year 11, particularly in the IB, where there is two years’ worth of content to cover. It is important to stay on top of it all and not leave it until the week before the exam.
How do you motivate yourself to study?
I am easily distracted. So, to motivate myself, I give myself something to look forward to, such as a social event. This means that I know there is something fun to do afterwards. It also helps to put away all sources of distractions, such as phones.