You can get a lot of homework in Exeter Summer. It’s a place where you are expected to work hard but still enjoy the various activities. How do you study efficiently? We first interviewed some of the students of their study strategies, then interviewed the teachers about how students should ideally prepare for Harkness discussions. Let’s hear some students’ and teachers’ opinions and great study tips which include the most efficient strategies that you can continue using!
Four questions for the Summer students:
1) Do you think that there is too much homework sometimes and you cannot finish all of it?
2) So far, how do you feel about the Harkness table discussion method?
3) What are some study methods you use? Do you have any tips to share?
4) Do you hang out with your friends during your free time?
1) “Not really”
2) “I am able to handle Harkness”
3) “ Definitely take notes and write down the main points first when you write a summary. This helps me expand my thoughts. Actually I don’t review my notes, it is just a way for me to concentrate more. And definitely take breaks. For example, if you have 3 hours of homework, take breaks between the 3 hours.”
4) “Yes, but most of the time I do my homework.”
2) “I like Harkness a lot and I am able to handle that. It is very different from my own school.”
3) “Study tips? I don’t really use any tips, just spend some of your free time doing homework. I use my E and F format.”
4) “I spend my free time both doing my homework and hanging out with my friends.”
1) “No, not really, it uses up about three hours a day.”
2) “At first, I thought the Harkness method was a little awkward because I was more used to raising my hand, and I didn’t know the cue to voice my opinion.”
3) “Sleep a lot and concentrate hard when you’re working especially during class time. You don’t have to speak too much but listening carefully is definitely important. If you think that there is an important sentence highlight it or put a star next to it, then you can talk about it in class. You can also listen to classical music to relax.”
4) “I usually hang out with my friends if I finish homework.”
2) “ I like the Harkness discussion, and I’m able to handle that.”
3) “I don’t really take notes when I am reading because I feel like it would distract me, so I just concentrate very hard. Definitely take breaks.”
4) “I spend my free time for both doing my homework and hanging out with my friends.”
1) “I think there is a lot of homework because I have a lot of additional classes that I need to deal with, like SSAT prep and my cello lessons. They take up a lot of my free time.
2) “I am able to handle that.”
3) “If you can’t finish your homework, it is better to wake up early than stay up late. Also when there is suddenly a sentence that strikes me very strongly I put a star beside it. When a question pops up in my head, I jot it down so I can clarify in class. Putting down the page number is very useful for referencing later. These notes help me during the discussion because I can introduce a new topic whenever there is an awkward silence.”
Study tips: “Do some research before the Harkness discussion. For example for the topic of ocean acidification, one good strategy is to break the topic down to several detailed questions and do research to answer them. What is it? How does it form? What are its effects? What are they doing about it? I find this strategy help prevent doing research blindly, it improves both the quality, which it’s more organized, and the quantity. It helps me in the Harkness discussion tremendously.”
We also asked the teachers for their opinion on the questions below.
1) What is your expectation of your students?
2) Do you think that your students are prepared for Harkness discussions?
3) Do you have some study tips for students, like how they can do their homework more efficiently?
1) “I expect that my homework would take about 45 to 60 minutes”
2) I think the first day when they do the Harkness, they are still not very familiar with it. But over time, they practice and they watched the Harkness demo, they learn and improve. Harkness is a very gradual thing.”
1) “I expect my students to take notes and reread the assignment also they can get a better picture of it”
2) “Pretty well. This year’s Harkness is strong. After a Harkness discussion, You might change your opinion completely, or you might strengthen your point even more.”
3) For study tips, I think you should take notes both at home and during the discussion. And I recommend my students to jot down 5 ideas or questions before class to focus on your thoughts because sometimes simply underlining doesn’t help you focus on your ideas that much. And that’s also why I give my students 3 to 4 minutes in the very beginning of class to review their ideas.”
Now let’s move on to some study tips that we can suggest!
1) Reading and Note taking
This was mentioned before in some of the interviews, but here are some facts to boost your study efficiency even more!
Albert Einstein once said, “education isn’t the learning of the facts, but the training of the mind to think.” When we’re doing research/reading, we’re not only absorbing the writer’s thoughts, but more in making connections and drawing conclusions that can be applied to real life. In many schools, the method of A-C-T-I-V-E reading is commonly used, which stand for ask, connect, think, infer, visualize, eureka (synthesize), respectively (in my school it does). It engages us more during reading.
We read many books, but we can only remember little of them after we finish. One way to prevent it is to record an appropriate amount of notes when reading. According to Ao Ye Xuan Zhi, a popular Japanese publisher and writer, his book How to Effectively Read a Book demonstrates innovative ways to effectively “pick books”, “buy books”, “read books”, “record”, and “apply”, and every step involves note-taking, for example to create a book list for the first step. The one that I find the most significant is taking notes while reading. Not only Ao Ye Xuan Zhi is an advocator of note-taking while reading, but also Shigeru Kashima, a French literature specialist. He says “We should always strive to leave an impression of the books we read. Even if we only write down the book’s name, author, or copy down some dialogues, as long as we persevere and constantly note-take, this is the most efficient strategy of reading.”
2) Listening to classical music
There’s always that moment when we feel just not in the right mood to do Homework but we don’t have a choice as forced by life. At that time, one tip is to listen to classical music. When you listen to classical music, multiple areas of your brain are lighting up at once as they process the sound, take it apart to understand elements like melody and rhythm and then put it all back together into unified musical experience. And our brains do all this work in a split second between when we first hear the music and when our feet start to tap along. A number of academic studies recently zeroed in on classical music, showing that listening benefits the brain, sleep patterns, the immune system and stress levels — all helpful when facing those all-important end-of-semester tests. (Novak Djokovic Foundation)
3) recommended reliable sources that can be used to do research
1) The CIA World Factbook http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/. Info about every nation.
2) United Nations http://www.un.org/english/ “one of the largest intergovernmental Internet sources available”. There are the news center, publications, peace and security, economic and social development,etc.
3) www.facingthefuture.org provides examples of the numerous nonprofit and nongovernmentll organizations of all types and sizes that provide essential services and information around global issue.