Study & Organization

Tools to Build Student Text and Lecture Comprehension

A major challenge for teachers is to ensure that students truly comprehend the information that they read in textbooks or have presented in lectures.

Test Anxiety: Classroom Tips

It is very common for students to become nervous or anxious when they must take quizzes and tests.

Jim's Hints

Use Managing Test Anxiety as a Self-Study Reference. If you are pressed for time or teach older students who are fairly responsible and self-directed, you may decide just to pass out copies of the handout and have students read it on their own. (Remember, though, that you will probably see much better outcomes if you at least use the handout as a starting point for a classroom discussion about effective test-taking skills.)

Collect Classroom Ideas to Put Together Your Own Test-Tips Guide. If your students come up with lots of creative ideas about how to get ready for and take tests, consider giving the class a group assignment to type up the suggestions into their own handout. These ideas could then be shared with other classrooms!


  • Boyd, R.T.C. (1988).  Improving your test-taking skills. ERIC Digest Number 101.  Retrieved 9 May 02  from:
  • Hayes, J.R.,  (1989).  The complete problem solver.  Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  • Hopper, C.  (1998).  Practicing college study skills.  Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Study Skills Package

Steps in Implementing This Intervention:

Jim's Hints

Any child is likely to find the study and organization strategies outlined here to be useful. It is probably most cost-effective for you to set aside time at the start of the school year to teach the entire class how to use the Study-Skills package. You might also combine instruction in these organizational strategies with other key study skills (e.g., guided notes or text review techniques).

A couple of additional ideas to make the Study Skills package work for your class are to:

1. Use the Whole Package. While students may demonstrate improved study skills by adopting any one of the strategies outlined in this package, teachers and parents will see the greatest benefits if they incorporate all of the elements: assignment notebook, assignment calendar, and guidelines for formatting written work.

2. Introduce the Package to Parents. Because parents often play a very important role in getting their child to complete and turn in homework, you will probably want to introduce them to the package and point out how they can use. For example, you may suggest--in a note sent home with the student or at parent-teacher conferences-- that parents check the student's assignment folder nightlyfor papers sent home from school and sit down with their child at least once per week to review the school assignment calendar.

School-Wide Strategies for Managing... STUDY SKILLS / ORGANIZATION

As students transition to middle and high school, they are expected to depend less on the teacher to manage their instruction and to put increasing energy into becoming self-managing learners.

Jim's Hints

Dartmouth: Academic Skills. The Dartmouth Academic Skills Center offers no-nonsense tutorials in the basics of good study practices, including 'Managing Your Time', 'Reading Your Textbooks' and 'Where to Study/How to Study'

List of Calculators, Assessments, and Useful Tools. Although written for college students, this helpful page features links to math and science reference tables and calculators that middle and high school students will find useful!

Prentice Hall: Academic Skills. These tip-sheets cover the core areas of study skills, including effective reading, note-taking, and preparing for tests. They are well-written and to the point. This academic skills section is part of a larger website created by Prentice Hall Publishers with tips to help college students to achieve success.

Study Guides and Strategies. The Study Guides and Strategies web site is one of the most comprehensive of its kind on the web. The site contains brief tutorials in bullet format for easy and quick reading. It features a wide range of study- and learning-related topics such as reading, classroom participation, learning with others, and project management. The site is authored, maintained and supported by Joe Landsberger 'as an independent educational public service'

Virginia Tech: Study Skills Self-Help Information. Find tutorials on taking notes, managing the study environment, proofreading, writing papers and more. The site also features several self-guided 'online study skills workshops' on topics such as improving concentration and time management. The site is sponsored by the Cook Counseling Center at Virginia Polytechnic Institute.



  • Beyda, S. D., Zentall, S. S., & Ferko, D. J. K. (2002). The  relationship between teacher practices and the task-appropriate and  social behavior of students with behavioral disorders. Behavioral  Disorders, 27, 236-255.
  • Gleason, M.M., Colvin, G., & Archer, A.L. (1991).  Interventions for improving study skills. In G. Stoner, M.R. Shinn,  & H.M. Walker (Eds.) Interventions for achievement and behavior  problems. National Association of School Psychologists: Silver Springs,  MD.
  • Pauk, W. (1989). How to study in college (4th ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
  • Sirotowitz, S., Davis, L., & Parker, H. C. (2003). Study  strategies for early school success: Seven steps to improve your  learning. Plantation, FL: Specialty Press.
  • Sprick, R. S., Borgmeier, C., & Nolet, V. (2002). Prevention  and management of behavior problems in secondary schools. In M. A.  Shinn, H. M. Walker & G. Stoner (Eds.), Interventions for academic  and behavior problems II: Preventive and remedial approaches  (pp.373-401). Bethesda, MD: National Association of School  Psychologists.
  • U.S. Department of Education (2004). Teaching children with  attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: Instructional strategies and  practices. Retrieved August 20, 2005, from
  • University of North Dakota Learning Center (n.d.). Making notes  instead of taking notes. Retrieved September 25, 2006, from
  • Wright, J. (2002) Managing test anxiety: Ideas for students.  Retrieved September 23, 2006, from
  • Homework Contracts: Tapping the Power of Parents

    Students who regularly complete and turn in homework assignments perform significantly better in school than those of similar ability who do not do homework (Olympia et al., 1994).

    Jim's Hints

    Identify Other People To Help the Parent With the Homework Contract . If the student attends an afterschool program where he or she completes homework, personnel from that program may be willing to set up and use the homework contract with the child. Or if there is a responsible older sibling in the home, he or she may be willing to administer a homework contract system. The parent would still be expected to deliver any rewards that the student may have earned.


    • Miller, D.L. & Kelly, M.L. (1994). The use of goal setting  and contingency contracting for improving children's homework  performance. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis,27, 73-84.
    • Olympia, D.E., Sheridan, S.M., Jenson, W.R., & Andrews, D.  (1994). Using student-managed interventions to increase homework  completion and accuracy. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis,27, 85-99.

    Guided Notes: Increasing Student Engagement During Lecture and Assigned Readings

    Description: The student is given a copy of notes summarizing content from a class lecture or assigned reading.

    Jim's Hints

    Accommodating Diverse Learners. Students who have difficulty keeping up with even the modest writing requirements of guided notes may benefit from being assigned a peer helper from the class with whom they can meet at the end of the lecture. The peer helper reviews the student's notes to ensure that each section contains complete and accurate information about the day's lecture content.

    As another accommodation for students of diverse abilities, the instructor might prepare several versions of guided notes. Students who find note-taking most challenging would be given a version of guided-notes that requires relatively little writing, while more skilled note-takers could have a version of notes that call for the student to record and synthesize a greater amount of lecture information.


    • Heward, W.L. (1996). Three low-tech strategies for increasing  the frequency of active student response during group instruction. In  R.Gardner III, D.M. Sainato, J.O. Cooper, T.E. Heron, W.L. Heward, J.W.  Eshleman, & T.A.Grossi (Eds.) Behavior analysis in education: Focus on measurably superior instruction (pp.283-320). Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.
    • Heward, W. L. (2001). Guided notes: Improving the effectiveness of your lectures.  Columbus, OH: The Ohio State University Partnership Grant for Improving  the Quality of Education for Students with Disabilities. Retrieved from
    • Konrad, M., Joseph, L. M., &  Eveleigh, E. (2009). A meta-analytic review of guided notes. Education and Treatment of Children, 32, 421-444.
    • Lazarus, B.D. (1996, Spring). Flexible skeletons: Guided notes for adolescents with mild disabilities. Teaching Exceptional Children, 28(3), 36-40.

    Student Problems

    1. The student does not get to class on time

    • Provide an incentive for arriving promptly (e.g., points toward earning a reward or privilege).
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