Simple and Outsize: The Study Plan

Submitted By:
Stephanie Lipkowitz, Albuquerque Academy, Albuquerque, NM

In this incisive article on metacognition, Jenny Anderson describes research done at Stanford by post-doctoral research fellow Patricia Chen, which concludes that there is an outsize impact when students create a study plan in advance of taking exams. In the study, half the students were alerted that they would sit for an exam the next week; the other half were asked to create a study plan, write out the resources they intended to consult, and explain how exactly they intended to use those resources. Additionally, the second set of students were coached by their teachers with prompting questions: Is there something that does not seem to be helping you learn/retain/understand the material? Is there another strategy that might serve you better? The students who engaged in intentional planning not only had higher grades than the control group, but also reported lower levels of stress. Chen urges parents and teachers (1) to support students in thinking about their study methods and (2) to help students in creating study plans in advance of assessments and then following through on them. Near the end of each school year, Chen's is an easy, inexpensive change that any teacher could make right away.

Teaching Practice
Science of Learning