Grow your brain: back to school tips for effective study time!

Grow your brain

Grow your brain

As summer winds down, another semester is just heating up! It’s time again to gear up for fall semester and Questia can help you make it a breeze. You’ll want to want to make sure you stay organized, grow your brain to retain what you learn and adapt new study skills such as the concept of “active study.”

A few simple strategies are all you need to get yourself supercharged and ready to go back to school for fall classes, and the new and improved can help you on your way.

Stay organized by getting into the work flow

When it comes to organizing your study time more efficiently, you’ll need to have some solid skills in place. The book, “How to Be a Student: 100 Great Ideas and Practical Habits for Students Everywhere,” by Sarah Moore and Maura Murphy offers some ideas on how to develop those skills. Moore and Murphy draw from many experts in the field of learning and memory such as Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a psychologist who studies how people can work and learn more effectively.

Csikszentmihalyi calls this state of effectiveness “flow.” How do you get into the flow? Moore and Murphy list tips including:

  • Concentrate: get rid of anything in your environment that could distract you from focusing on your studies.
  • Challenge yourself: push yourself to the next level and get help with any skills gap that you discover.
  • Schedule your time: use a calendar to map out the weeks and months ahead. Pace yourself so that you’ll work more efficiently and with less anxiety. Otherwise, those research assignment due dates can sneak up on you unexpectedly.

Questia helps you to stay organized throughout your research and writing process. Questia Senior Product Manager Gary Jeppsen reveals that the website’s recent redesign includes “a larger library, intuitive navigation and search filters for finding research faster, and a slick new interactive reader that makes it easy to read, create citations, take notes and organize your work.” Organization from start to finish!

Grow your brain and retain what you learn

You should also check out the book, “Research-Based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning: Insights from a Neurologist and Classroom Teacher,” by Judy Willis, M.D. This book is chock full of information to supercharge your brain. For instance, did you know that you could grow new pathways in your brain by learning skills such as juggling or a foreign language? It’s true. Researchers have found that learning these skills will actually increase the gray matter in the visual memory area of the brain.

Once you learn the skill, you have to keep at it or the newly acquired brain matter will vanish. “It is the ‘use it or lose’ phenomenon. The process is called ‘pruning’ because the brain pathways and connections that are used regularly are maintained and ‘hard-wired,’ while others are eliminated, or pruned,” Willis said. It sounds like this could sure come in handy when it comes to preventing writers’ block!

Still need a little help to get your creative juices flowing when it comes to research papers and creative assignments, though? Questia Content Manager Nancy Buchanan recommends heading to Questia’s collection of research topic pages for help in selecting your topic and sources. “Our topic pages provide students and researchers alike with great resources categorized by subject. These topics link users directly to high-quality sources that were all hand-selected by librarians,” said Buchanan. This means you can be sure that everything you’re linked to is relevant to your assignment’s topic!

Build new study skills

If you’ve been in college for any amount of time, you’ve probably figured out that the same tactics that got you the good grades in high school may not be working so well for you now in college. That’s because the papers, tests and assignments ask you to demonstrate a deeper level of knowledge and to show your ability to use what you’ve learned in new and different settings.

In other words, simple memorization won’t be good enough. You’ll need to develop new study skills. You’ll get an idea of how to study successfully at the Dartmouth Academic Skills Center where they recommend study habits such as:

  • Study in chunks
  • Use daylight hours
  • Study actively
  • Find the right place to study

What is “active study”? It’s when you involve as many senses as you can to see, hear and feel the information you’re learning. It’s developing tools such as mnemonic devices to help you memorize new concepts. For example, use your favorite song to help you remember a long list of items or use the first letter of each item to create a word or name. Active study also includes using note cards. Reading them aloud will keep you more actively engaged in learning the content.

With a little planning and practice, you can make sure that your attitude is primed and ready to start when the fall semester begins. Instead of floundering around trying to organize your deadlines, you’ll have your plan of attack all mapped out. And, who would have ever guessed that learning to juggle might help you improve those creative thinking skills? Following these tips and looking to the new and improved this semester will see you rising to the challenge of your greatest academic goals this semester!


For a chance to win one of three $50 Visa gift cards, weigh in on college research paper writing and offer some advice to new students.
Click here and answer for a chance to win 1 of 3 $50 VISA gift cards!

1 reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.