In the ﬁrst two articles in this series we’ve brieﬂy covered the ﬁrst two steps to help our students study smarter, not harder. The ﬁrst step, “Where are you now?” invites students to identify their learning strengths and study habits, having a clear understanding of their current reality in the realm of study. The second step, “Where do you want to be?” invites students to craft a mission statement and identify their goals, or priorities.
This article addresses the third and ﬁnal step, “How do you get there?” which involves closing that gap between where the student is now and where they want to be. In the ﬁrst two steps, the student should be experiencing what’s called creative tension. This occurs when a level of dissatisfaction arises because we see a gap between our current reality—where we are now— and our vision and goals—where we want to be. We want to close that gap.
When the student sees his grade in Math is a C and he wants an A, or when he wants to play in the recital or in the upcoming game but knows he isn’t prepared, a level of dissatisfaction occurs.
This third step teaches the student how to get there: how to move from the current reality to achieving the goal. W. Edwards Deming, a very wise man, said the results come from the process. Students need to understand there is an effective process for each thing they do and this effective process will yield good results.
For example, many students believe that if they read and reread a chapter, they will be more likely to retain the information. The PQRST method is just one of many methods that teaches a better way. This acronym helps students remember the following steps: First, students preview the material, then develop questions about the preview, then read to answer the questions, state the answers to the questions, and ﬁnally, test themselves by repeating the state step.
The PQRST method causes the student to be motivated to look for answers and remember them because she knows she will have to state answers to questions about what she has read. This method helps to close the gap between the inability to comprehend or retain information, and the desire to comprehend and retain it.
The “how to get there” step is designed to offer an effective process so that good results might occur. Reading is just one area of studying where students need to develop effective skills. Other areas include test taking, listening, taking notes, and managing time.
Once students learn these three basic concepts—being honest about where they are now, developing a vision with a mission and goals describing where they want to be, and lastly, having good solid processes to close the gap of creative tension in the how do I get there step— then they have learned concepts that will help them succeed in academics and in life.
Victus means way of life, and we are all striving to give students skills they can use today and for the rest of their lives.