Study environments affect efficiency

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With second semester just beginning, it is the prime time for students to throw out bad study habits and try out some new ones.

According to the National Survey of Student Engagement’s findings, the average high school student spends approximately 17 hours each week studying for classes. Although this number may vary from student to student, it is inherent that high school students put a lot of time towards school work outside of school hours. So, how do students study effectively and efficiently when not regulated by the school schedule?

“The best studying tactic for me is to just go sit in a library or a quiet coffee shop,” senior Aanya Khaira said. “I am someone that gets distracted easily so I can’t be in a loud environment but I also can’t focus when it’s too quiet. At my house there are a lot of distractions so I find it better for me to go somewhere I’m not used to, like a coffee shop or library.”

Environment has a huge affect on study habits. Studies show it is much better for students to learn in multiple locations, rather than simply one consistent room.
“In one classic 1978 experiment, psychologists found that college students who studied a list of 40 vocabulary words in two different rooms — one windowless and cluttered, the other modern, with a view on a courtyard — did far better on a test than students who studied the words twice, in the same room. Later studies have confirmed the finding, for a variety of topics,” a New York Times article, Forget What You Know About Good Study Habits, stated.

Along with rotating physical locations, it is important to eliminate distractors. Phones and electronics often get in the way of steady learning sessions, interfering with the brains learning process. With technology advancing and the use of iPads for most school work, more and more distractions are looming over studying students.

Recently growing in popularity, some apps claim to keep students in check, such as an app called “Forest” or the free version “Flora.” This app grows a tree while the user remains in the app, but as soon the app is exited, to check on social media or whatever else, the tree dies. There are many similar apps with the same underlying purpose: to keep students attentive while studying. These apps incentivize students to stay off their phone and put all their brain power towards focused studying.

“I normally use an app called ‘Workflow Timer,’ for finals to manage my extensive study time,” senior Jules Gist said. “I have a really hard time staying focused for longer periods of time so [the app] schedules 20 to 25 minute study windows with small breaks in between which really helps my brain stay focused and my studying more efficient.”
Leaving distractions in a different room or turning them off will prompt much more efficient study habits.

“I have a lot of competitions I do, for me, its best to study in the evening after I eat dinner
I have a specific table downstairs for studying,” sophomore Wenjun Hou said. “When I need to study really hard, I go downstairs without my iPad or computer so I don’t get distracted.”

Time of day is also a huge factor when it comes to productive studying, but this varies from student to student. Some find it much better to work at night versus others who swear by early bird mornings.

“I like to wake up and study at four in the morning,” senior McCall Delaney said. “None of my friends are able to distract me through social media because none of them are awake, working with a strict deadline of getting my stuff done by the time I have to get ready makes me work more efficiently, and I have a house of six people so at four [in the morning] I have a quiet house.”

Another habit that proves to be very advantageous for many students is the use of music. Listening to music has been studied for years in regards to the effect it can have on brain activity.

According to a 2010 study from the University of Wales, “listening to background music prior to studying increased cognitive processes, such as attention and memory, through the mechanism of increasing arousal and positive mood.”