Have you ever wondered 'what is active study at uni?' I know I have, so I've put together some examples and active learning tips that will help you study better, ace your exams, and guide you to better learning.
Smashing your study goals is a number one priority for any Uni student! But what is Active Study and how do you do it?
Find out all about this supercharged way of active studying, level up your study, and blast through your assignments and exams!
This post is all about what is Active study at uni.
What is Active Study At Uni
First, we’ll have a look at what active study is.
What is Active Study?
Active Study at university is a method of learning that encourages students to take an active role in their education and own learning.
It's study is a form of ‘self-study’ and involves a variety of strategies such as:
● Discussing topics
● Doing practice tests
● Writing essays and reports
● Attending lectures seminars and tutorials
● Taking part in activities
● Testing yourself on various concepts and ideas
● Using flashcards and online quizzes
It also involves thinking critically about the material you are studying and using your creativity to find solutions to problems.
Ok, so that sounds pretty similar to the usual ways of studying, right?
“Active study at university is a method of learning that encourages students to take an active role in their higher education.”
So how does it differ?
How is active study different from ‘normal’ study techniques?
Active Study requires that you take a more hands-on approach to the learning process than traditional methods.
So rather than simply reading or listening to a traditional lecture, Active Study requires students to participate in active learning activities. Hands-on activities such as discussion, quizzing, and problem solving – all of which help to better engage with the material and ensure proper absorption.
“Active study methods require students to go beyond simply memorising facts and instead ask questions about the material that encourages critical thinking skills.”
While this is beneficial in helping students understand concepts on a deeper level, it also takes much longer and requires a little more effort than just reading through a textbook or taking notes!
It’s essentially an ‘extra layer’ on top of your normal studies. It’s perfect if you have already mastered the basics and are looking to gain a deeper understanding of the material.
By putting in more study time and effort, it helps to laser focus critical thinking skills and become better prepared for smashing your degree goals!
Active Study vs. Passive Study
In high school, re-reading, highlighting and memorising my lecture notes a bunch of times was all I need to pass my exams (except for maths), but when I decided to make the jump to study University courses.
I very quickly realised that those passive techniques weren't going to cut it at a college/ university level.
I had to come up with a better way of engaging with my course material more effectively, and then I discovered active learning and never looked back.
Being in an active learning environment such as attending lectures and seminars is a great way of stimulating the active learning process.
This will depend on your professors' teaching style, every professor teaches differently. I had x1 professor who preferred students not to ask any questions during lectures (passive learning) and x1 who would ask his students questions in the middle of the lectures (active learning).
I'm sure people have done case studies on this, so it is not a surprise the active learning classroom students' did better in their exams and actually remember what they'd learned.
This is because the info was stored in their long-term memory due to the active learning/ study and teaching and the learning style that was used.
The table below shows examples of active studying and the comparisons of both passive learning and active learning.
Passive Learning Strategies
Active Learning Strategies
Lecture handouts/ notes
Write down everything the professor says and the re-read lecture notes
Phrase in your own words for better udnerstanding
Read and re-read
Read chapter and then asnswer the wuestions at the end of the chapter to test your understanding
Reading only the assigned reading for your module
Read more/ additional reading outside your recommended or assigned reading list
Highlighting every sentence as you read
Read the article, and summarise the main points in your own words
Looking over research that someone else has done
Do some experimenting and Original research of your own
Presentation/ Powerpoint Slides
print out the slides and read them
Print out the slides and write questions to quizz yourself in the margins or on the slide handouts
Benefits of Active Learning:
- Student Engagement- Engaging with the study material, is the best way students will understand the material by challenging themselves in different ways. This can involve asking and answering questions by retrieving the answers from their prior knowledge.
- Online Courses | Online Teaching- there is much information you can learn from online resources that you can use to test yourself on your study material. With active studying being the best kind of learning you'll be able to close that achievement gap by learning new ideas more efficiently and gaining better grades in your classes.
- Role play- simply reading your study material out loud, or sometimes acting out the study material (if possible) can be hugely beneficial for creative students. Particularly those in the performance arts that can role-play with their study group members.
- Group work- Group work requires active engagement, you have to craft explanations in your own words and share your perspective with the other students in the group and vice versa. Gaining new insights and different perspectives on your course material promotes critical thinking. Large groups or large classes are not needed for this. It works just fine with small groups.
- New Knowledge- with active learning you are able to learn new concepts easier and will more efficiently be able to distinguish important information from total crap.
- Concept map- a great way to show and link the relationships between concepts in a simple way that is easy to understand. This form if active learning is very popular in Law Schools, Medical School etc. Any type of school really. This is definitely one of the most visual and effective study strategies and should be incorporated into your study habits.
Passive learning strategies:
- Traditional lecturing- show up to class period or your lectures and sit there for an hour or two while your teacher/ professor talks and you try your best to listen and take notes, not engaging with the material and waiting for class time to come to an end.
- Multiple-choice question- selecting one of the options already on the page requires little thought to do and critical analysis/ thinking.
List of Active Learning Strategies:
So how do you become an active learner? Here are my best 10 active learning approaches and tips for active study!
1. Develop a study plan and stick to it
Have a clear idea of what you are working towards, create a timeline for yourself, and check in regularly on your progress. It can be really easy at Uni, with so many exciting events to attend and new people to meet!
But remember why you are there and try to make sure you have a water-tight study schedule which also leaves time to ‘active study’.
Skim-reading a couple of chapters before heading off to the next event is not really studying! So make sure you take responsibility and stick to your study plan.
Also, don't forget to spend time reflecting on the subject you've been getting to grips with. Is it clear? Do you need any more explanations? Could you find the answer online or in other extra study materials?
Take a few minutes at the end of each study session to think about what you have learned and how it relates to your overall understanding of the subject.
Having a regular study routine will make you feel less stressed out about studying achieving student success.
2. Set goals
What do you want to achieve with each session? What should you be able to do/know by the end?
These goals should be realistic, achievable, and measurable so that you can track your improvements over time.
A good method to use is SMART (Specific Measurable Achievable Relevant and Time-Bound) goals to measure your progress throughout the year.
3. Read actively
Don’t just read through the course material – pause to think about the concepts being discussed and how they relate to other topics or areas of the course content. Take notes as you go and ask questions if something isn't clear.
With active study, learning doesn’t necessarily end when you finish a chapter or assignment – take time to reflect on the material so that it can be applied in different contexts.
4. Review often
Make sure to review your notes and material regularly.
As you do so, you’ll be able to identify areas where further/ new information or study is needed. Do you really understand the concepts from your lecture? If not, then make sure you reach out for help.
Take the time to summarise key concepts in a fun way that makes them easier to remember.
Use diagrams, mind maps, or bullet points depending on what works best for you.
6. Discuss ideas
Talk with classmates, friends, lecturers, and mentors about the concepts studied so far.
Sharing your understanding of topics will help reinforce them in your head as well as give you access to different perspectives on the same material.
7. Use multimedia
Supplementing text-based learning materials with videos, podcasts and other visual media can help you create a more complete picture of the concept you’ve been learning.
It’s a great way of honing down any key points you may have missed or help you more easily understand concepts you aren’t sure of.
It can also be a fun and engaging new way to learn!
8. Take breaks
Regular breaks are the holy grail of effective study and especially help you to stay focused and energized when applying active study methods!
All-day studying sessions are not effective, particularly when attempting difficult concepts. It can be hard to even take in the information on the page when you are tired let alone try to use active learning techniques!
Take breaks throughout the day, so your brain has time to digest the material and ensure you don’t get overwhelmed!
9. Learn in different locations
Change up your study spots for maximum impact.
Sometimes being in a new environment can help stimulate fresh ideas and perspectives, which can be especially helpful when stuck on a tricky concept!
Maybe head over to a coffee shop or Uni library. Sometimes a change IS as good as a rest! This can help you stay more focused and make sure you can focus on going that extra mile in applying your active study skills!
Have a list of the subjects you might be struggling with and see if the change of scenery gives you a fresh perspective!
10. Ask for help
If you find yourself struggling with a concept and need help then don’t be afraid to ask for assistance from your fellow students or professors/ faculty members.
This is one of the key ways of practising ‘active study’ as you are taking responsibility for material you aren’t sure of and not simply letting your lecture wash over you!
This will separate you from others who close their books at the end of a lecture regardless of whether they’ve understood!
Most universities provide academic support services that can be invaluable when tackling difficult material.
What is active study at Uni – Rounding up…
I hope that at least one active learning strategy on my list helped you out in your learning experience. Active study at university is an important skill for anyone who wants to make the most out of their student performance and learning experiences.
It requires dedication and effort, but with these ten tips as guidance, you will soon find yourself mastering this valuable approach to studying and hitting your study goals like a pro!
Before you go, don’t forget to check out my blog area for lots of other help including, student support, study tips, and more!