Professor says cramming doesn’t work

Ryne DiPerna

Rawson advises KSU students to review

A cram session is as much a part of college life as the keg stand. Most Kent State students can relate to long nights imprisoned in the library, fueled by super-human quantities of coffee.

“I usually study two days before the test for maybe three to four hours,” said Staci Moeller, sophomore middle childhood education major.

“I study for a test for two hours or until I feel comfortable,” freshman exploratory major Kristyn Berger said. “It all depends on how the professor grades.”

Sometimes, however, those cram sessions don’t ork.

“Where students go wrong is not because they have a bad memory,” assistant psychology professor Katherine Rawson said, “but because they’re not evaluating their memory well enough.

“It’s common that students remember something, but they don’t realize what they retrieved from their memory is wrong”

Rawson’s research specifically focuses on the process of metacognition.

“The short definition of metacognition is ‘thinking about thinking,'” Rawson said.

Metacognition can be dissected into three parts: beliefs, monitoring and control.

The belief aspect of metacognition refers to a student’s belief of whether it’s better to study in long or short sessions, Rawson said. Monitoring refers to a student’s ability to monitor their progress or “when you have read enough.” And finally, control refers to the strategies students use to control their cognitive systems.

Rawson said an essential part to successful studying is using key term definitions. This process involves taking the whole definition and breaking it into core pieces. Once the definition is broken up into “core conceptual parts,” learning becomes easier.

“It approves your ability to evaluate,” Rawson said.

So how long should students study?

“It’s not the actual amount of time studying per se,” Rawson said. “But rather what you’re doing as (you’re) studying.”

Rawson suggests studying for four hours on four different days, with the last session coming a day before the test.

Rawson said researchers don’t completely agree why the spacing method for studying is the most effective, but they all agree that it is the most beneficial.

There is a slight benefit to cramming, though.

Rawson said cramming is beneficial “if you’re tested immediately.” But students’ long-term comprehension of the material is much lower than if the studying were spread out.

Contact student life reporter Ryne DiPerna at [email protected].