Study Skills for Criminal Justice Lectures Part 2


In Part 1 of our Study Skills blog, we looked at tips for active listening and note taking during criminal justice lectures.

Today we’re going to talk about recommendations for reviewing your notes after class, as well as advice on absorbing information while reading text books and preparing for tests/exams.

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  • Reviewing Notes AFTER Class: Cornell University’s Learning Strategies Center states whether you take tons of notes or hardly any at all, what you do with them after class is what makes them useful. Since it gives you immediate review, it saves you from cramming, or re-learning, all of the information before test time.
    • Take about 10-15 minutes to review your notes (preferably right after the lecture).
    • Use a different color ink (or on a computer you can use a different font or even comments on the sidebar).
    • What do you add to your notes? Anything that helps you clarify what you just learned. You could add particular details or key examples that you didn’t have time to write down. You can also formulate questions (i.e. think of Jeopardy or the questions that might appear on a test) to coincide with each section. You can identify concepts you may have not understood to follow up on. It is also a good idea to ask yourself, what is the significance of this concept and how does it connect to the particular lesson. Finally either in your head or with a classmate, recite the main points of the lecture as if you were teaching the lesson to someone else.
  • Reading Textbooks: While this may not work for all students, one effective reading strategy is referred to as SQ3R (which was developed by Ohio State University psychologist, Francis P. Robinson).
    • S=Survey: Take a couple minutes to read each of the chapter’s headings and the final summary.
    • Q=Question: Turn the first heading into a question.
    • R=Read: Read the section under that first heading with the question you formulated in mind.
    • Recite: Look away from the book, and in your own words, answer the question you formulated (based on the section you just read).
  • Repeat Question, Read & Recite for each Section
    • Review: Go over each section and recite or write down (if you haven’t already) the key points of each, noting the questions you asked. It’s a good idea to Review the Chapter more than once (i.e. take a few minutes to do so for several days).

Note: In addition to SQ3R, the UNM Valencia Learning Center also suggests the P2R System and the S-RUN System.

  • Studying for Texts, Exams and in General: While everyone has their own study style, here are some tips that may help.
    • Use visual tools, such as concept maps or graphic organizers, to organize related information. This can help with both understanding and remembering. You can draw these by hand, use templates or even download software. (You might even want to incorporate these into note taking).
    • Make flash cards for hard-to-remember concepts, such as definitions and dates.
    • Try to set a regular study schedule (specifying what you will study, when) and in a regular, productive spot.
    • Don’t spend more than two hours in a row on the same subject, states Cornell University’s Learning Strategies Center, adding “Taking a break and then studying another course will provide the change necessary to keep up your efficiency.”
    • When you estimate how long a study task or assignment will take, expect that it will take double the time. Most of us underestimate the time such tasks actually take.
    • Take care of your physical and mental health by eating well, getting proper sleep, exercising, socializing, joining an extracurricular activity, engaging in creative pursuits, etc.

Do not get discouraged if you feel like you’ve had an unsuccessful study day. It’s a process, and if you start each day determined, over time you will become more and more…and more… successful!