Baylor School Psychologist Shares Four Study Tips to Maximize Learning

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    (iStockphoto)
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    Alex Beaujean, Ph.D., associate professor of educational psychology in Baylor University's School of Education (Meg Cullar/School of Education)
Nov. 4, 2015

Nov. 9-13 Marks School Psychology Awareness Week

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Media contact: Tonya B. Lewis, (254) 644-3301

WACO, Texas (Nov. 4, 2015) — Most people do not fully understand the role of a school psychologist, said Alex Beaujean, Ph.D., associate professor of educational psychology in Baylor University’s School of Education.

The profession is consistently ranked at the top of U.S. News’ list of social service careers, and is No. 1 for 2015, as well as being No. 6 on the STEM career list and No. 17 overall.

“School psychologists support students and teachers through their expertise in learning, mental health and behavior,” Beaujean said, adding that school psychologists are often employed in traditional P-12 educational settings, but training is so comprehensive that they might also work in a mental health agency, hospital or university.

In honor of School Psychology Awareness Week (Nov. 9-13), Beaujean provides some simple, inexpensive ways for parents, teachers and students to maximize learning.

1. Practice ‘study hygiene.’ Do a little bit every day.

It’s more effective to study frequently for short time periods than to cram, Beaujean said. For example, if the plan is to devote three hours to studying for a test, it is better to use that time in 15- or 30-minute study sessions over several days rather than study for three hours the night before the test.

“Such ‘study hygiene’ can make a big difference over the course of a semester. After all, you can’t expect a good report if you only brush your teeth on the night before you visit the dentist,” Beaujean explained. “Teachers can help students do this by giving students many low-stakes quizzes throughout the semester – over recent material as well as that taught in previous weeks. Likewise, parents can help their children do this by setting aside short periods of time throughout the week to study for their courses, whether or not there are homework assignments.”

2. Test yourself over and over – and then test some more.

“Research shows that taking practice tests is one of the best ways to study information,” Beaujean said. “Students can easily make flashcards as part of their process for reading course material.”

Likewise, he explained, parents can routinely quiz their children as part of their study routine and teachers can informally ask their students questions about course material when there is down time, such as before class starts or when students are lining up for lunch.

“No matter how the testing occurs, students should continue testing themselves, with feedback, until they can correctly recall the concept for each test item from memory at least once,” Beaujean said.

3. Take notes by hand.

“Highlighting passages in a textbook might help students find the information later, but it does not help with retention,” Beaujean said. “Taking notes by hand does help with retention – much more than taking notes on a laptop. This effect becomes even stronger if the students then use the notes as a type of practice test. Teachers can encourage note-taking by providing partial notes of the material for each class.”

4. Explain the ‘why’ behind the facts.

When a student explains why a fact is true or why an event might have significance – in history class, for example – the student is more likely to retain the information, Beaujean said.

“Explaining why ‘three times two’ is the same thing as ‘three plus three’ will help the young math learner understand multiplication better than just memorizing isolated multiplication facts,” Beaujean said. “Even if the explanations are not quite fully accurate, they can still help the student understand the material and retrieve the information later. While students can do this while they read, parents and teachers can ask students to explain why they think a fact is important to know.”

ABOUT ALEX BEAUJEAN, PH.D.

Beaujean, director of the Baylor school psychology graduate program, has earned both a teaching certification and a license to practice psychology. He has worked in both school and mental health facilities providing psychological services for children and their families. His advanced clinical competence was recognized by the American Board of Assessment Psychology in 2015 with the award of Diplomate in Assessment Psychology.

Beaujean's research interests include psychological and educational assessment, psychometrics and the history of psychology. He has published numerous articles and presented at conferences across the United States and Europe. In 2014, Beaujean wrote the book, “Latent Variable Modeling Using R: A Step-by-Step Guide.”

ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY

Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.

ABOUT BAYLOR SCHOOL OF EDUCATION

Founded in 1919, the Baylor School of Education is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. The School prepares leaders beginning in undergraduate programs, continuing through master’s-level work and culminating in both Ed.D. and Ph.D. programs; impacts the world as students participate in faculty-guided fieldwork, service learning and community-focused research in local and global contexts; and shapes the future by mentoring the whole person, developing an understanding of theory and practice and encouraging responsiveness to one’s calling.

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