And #11 Successful Students Learn Independently

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Successful students understand that doing well in college requires using all the learning strategies that they have used in the past and finding new strategies to adapt to new course demands. The most important difference between high school learning and college learning is that we expect you to take full responsibility for your learning. At college, you will find that there is less guidance than you may have experienced in the past. Professors may not remind you as often of upcoming tests and assignments because, as this is an adult learning environment, you are responsible for keeping track using your course outline and syllabus. You are expected to take initiative and approach your professor if you have questions. We use progressive assessment to test your knowledge and skills throughout the semester. This means focusing only on exams will not lead to success. Successful students use every quiz and assignment to demonstrate their learning. Professors will highlight important concepts in your course material but usually will not present everything you need to learn in depth.

This is why we say successful student learn independently using a four step cycle of Preparing, Absorbing, Capturing and Reviewing. In this module, we will review this cycle and explore some of the learning skills that can help you. For example, improving your reading skills will help you manage your textbook and other assigned readings. Even if your professor does not talk about the textbook in class, you are still expected to read it and learn from it. Reading the chapter before class is one way to prepare. Actively attending and participating in classes is part of the absorbing step. Better notetaking skills will help you get the most of your class and be a guide for your independent learning. This is part of the capturing step. Improving your written communication skills will help with assignment and tests and many assignments will involve authentic work related writing which prepares you for your field. We have sections for you on studying, part of the reviewing step as well as test taking and group work.

Our recommendation is that you scan all the sections. You may already have skills in some or even all of these areas. Confirming this can give you more confidence as you begin your study. If there are areas you can improve, the sections will give you an idea of strategies you can try. You may find out that you’re not as skilled as you need to be in test taking… yet! Trying a new approach is often all you need to do to get there.


Key Takeaways

  • At the college level, you must take full responsibility for your learning.
  • Although every student arrives at college with a variety of learning and study skills, you may need new strategies  to succeed at this advance level of education.


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A Guide for Successful Students Copyright © 2019 by St. Clair College is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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