5 Popular Study Habits Hindering Learner Success & How an LMS Can Help
From all-nighters to hyper-focusing on single subjects, here are some of the worst study habits plaguing modern learners and tips for how you can help them create better habits using an LMS.
Isabella got good grades in high school and performed well on test days, but she didn’t have the best study habits—often cramming the night before her exams.
Her poor study habits became a "don’t fix what isn’t broken" situation that she carried into university, pulling all-night cram sessions for her midterms and finals.
Despite her poor study habits, Isabella got by. She finished university, obtained her law degree, and landed an entry-level job in a law office. However, she quickly discovered how her poor study habits impacted her retention. She failed to master the subject matter in the long term. Instead, she only memorized what she needed to pass the test in the short term.
Isabella’s poor study habits significantly hindered her future. And, unfortunately, her story is all too common. We are rarely taught how to study and retain knowledge. Instead, many young learners rely on cramming methods to simply memorize information and pass a test.
Learning how NOT to do something is essential to learner success. So, let’s dive into the worst study habits hindering learner success and how a Learning Management System (LMS) can curb poor study habits.
Popular Study Habits That Hinder Learner Success
Recognizing poor study habits in learners that are enrolled in your test-prep or certification training programs is the first step in rectifying these behaviors.
1. Pulling All-Nighters
Whether studying for an exam or practicing an important business presentation, many busy professionals will sacrifice sleep for what they think is better preparation. At face value, dedicating more hours to studying—hours you’d spend doing nothing otherwise—seems like a good idea.
In actuality, staying up all night can harm a learner’s ability to think critically. It can also have detrimental effects on mood and physical health.
Forgoing sleep to study can lead to a reduced attention span and an inability to concentrate. Reaction time slows and it’s more difficult to form constructive thoughts and interact with others.
Sleep deprivation can also hinder your learners' ability to follow instructions, also known as mental place keeping. They might stay up all night studying, but sleep deprivation could prevent them from following simple instructions on exam day. When a learners' brain and body are sleep-deprived, creative thinking and problem-solving go out the window.
While some pull all-nighters thinking they’ll benefit from the extra hours, others force themselves into all-nighters because of poor time management skills. The two go hand-in-hand, negatively impacting one’s ability to learn and retain information.
Poor time management tips the first domino in a long line of mistakes, missed deadlines, and potential mental health issues. Some will then overcorrect by sacrificing sleep to catch up on projects and studies, leading to lesser-quality work and poor health.
Pulling all-nighters blends neatly into the following poor study habit...
2. Studying for Long Hours or Over-Studying
Learners can easily fall into the over-studying trap, neglecting breaks for another round of flashcards, which might do more harm than good. There may also be parental or societal pressure telling them that they aren’t studying enough when, in fact, they’re studying too much. But how much is too much?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Everyone learns and studies differently, so learners must identify the happy medium within themselves. It’s not hard to recognize the moment when learners cross the threshold. When preparing for the exam is no longer productive—or becomes counterproductive—they’ve entered the over-studying realm.
Once learners surpass their maximum learning capacity, they’ll begin regressing the longer they continue. Even if they spend several hours on a particular subject, they’ll retain less information.
While it seems counterintuitive, over-studying won’t lead to better grades. In fact, it can have the opposite effect. Learners require adequate time to process information. They also need a good night’s sleep to recharge their mental and physical batteries.
3. Reviewing Material One Time
Many learners adopt a false sense of knowledge security after learning course concepts and facts. They may only review the material once, thinking they’ll easily recall it come exam day. They fail to understand the difference between familiarity and recognition.
Think about when you see someone in public that you’ve met before. If you’ve only met them once, you’d probably say, “Hey, you seem familiar.” If you’ve met them several times, you might say, “Hey, I recognize you!” Notice how the former leaves room for error while the latter is confident—even excited.
When studying, you make a conscious effort to store that information to memory. These conscious memories are stored in your hippocampus. Another type of memory is memories unconsciously stored through experiences, like memories you have of your childhood or of a fun trip you took. These types of memories are much stronger because they are stored in a different part of your brain called the neocortex. Because of this distinction, conscious memories take more effort and practice to retain.
Nobody learns how to play chess or speak another language after one lesson. Instead, you become an expert through practice and repetition because this is how memories are stored for stronger retention.
4. Spending Too Much Time on Areas We Already Know
While learners must review material multiple times in various ways, it’s equally important that they review several pieces of material instead of focusing on one topic. Experts call this interleaving or studying one subject for a short period, then pivoting to another and perhaps even a third, if time allows.
Learners will experience the same false sense of confidence when they continuously review the same topics. Reviewing what they already know creates the illusion of confidence.
Imagine an iceberg floating in the ocean. What learners already know is the part you can see sticking out of the water. What learners fail to dedicate appropriate time to is the massive chunk you can’t see beneath the surface.
We can’t fault learners for what human nature pushes them to do. Focusing on one skill rather than branching out to learn new things is easy. For example, you might be good at making Chicken Parmesan, so good that you make it every night for dinner. But there are other classic Italian dishes out there worth learning. They may not be as good as your famous Chicken Parm—at least not at first—but that’s part of the learning process.
In an interview with Vox, Mark McDaniel, a psychologist at Washington University in St. Louis, touched on the shortcomings of re-reading and studying material we already know. Learners who read something for the first time extract plenty of information and understanding. When they re-read it, they find themselves saying, “I already know this,” and feel they aren’t gaining anything. He called this insidious, as it creates the illusion that they know the material well when, in fact, there are significant gaps.
5. Memorizing Without Understanding
Earlier, we discussed an aspiring lawyer named Isabella, who focused more on cramming and memorizing than mastery-based learning. While she passed her exams, she was unable to apply what she learned in real-world situations.
People like Isabella, those studying for high-stakes exams and entering into high-stakes fields, must go beyond memorization to make lessons stick. They must master the subject matter.
Mastery-based learning is about thinking critically and applying what you’ve learned to real-world situations. Memorization, or rote learning, gets in the way because learners focus on the wrong thing. Instead of applying what they’ve learned in their field, they’re more concerned with memorizing concepts to pass the test.
Suppose you memorized the steps for building a campfire but never actually built one. Now, let’s say you get lost in the woods. How far will memorization get you?
Rote learning turns people into passive learners. They train themselves to regurgitate single solutions rather than explore new ways of solving problems. Research shows that many learners struggle with incomplete comprehension because rote learning techniques have been drilled into their heads since elementary school. They can memorize basic facts but struggle to understand the subject matter’s complexities.
Rote learning also promotes short-term memory, which isn’t helpful down the road. If learners memorize a set of facts to pass their high-stakes credentialing exams, those lessons won’t commit to long-term memory. They might walk out of the exam room with a license to practice law or real estate, but if they don’t commit those lessons to long-term memory, how can they excel in their career?
How an LMS Can Improve Your Learners’ Study Habits
If you recognize these poor study habits in your learners, it may be time to consider investing in a Learning Management System (LMS) to promote better study habits for learner success. An LMS helps you provide learners the ability to build structure into their study time with a comprehensive plan.
Certification program providers helping learners prepare for high-stakes credentialing examinations can leverage LMS features to help learners attain mastery in a subject.
Self-Paced Learning to Lessen Stress
Modern learners are incredibly busy people. Between their jobs, relationships, families, and downtime, they have little room for regimented study schedules. Instead, they’ll benefit more from self-paced learning that lets them learn on their own time.
While the content is still part of the curriculum, self-paced learning puts the power in the learners’ hands. They aren’t beholden to the class schedule and can complete learning modules at their convenience and according to timelines that work for them. Learning becomes much easier when you can leverage your preferred learning style.
Blended, self-paced, digital learning has afforded the modern learner several opportunities to master new skills through their preferred learning methods.
Regimented learning schedules can lead to stress and burnout when learners feel like they’re falling behind. Not only can self-paced learning lessen stress, but it can also
- Increase retention
- Improve the learning experience
- Leave room for flexibility
Self-assessments also play a critical role in self-paced learning. BenchPrep optimizes learner engagement through self-assessment by providing real-time feedback on their strengths and weaknesses. Learners can also leverage personalized study plans and practice questions to test their knowledge on the go.
These self-guided assessments let learners monitor their progress in real-time rather than waiting on reports. They can also ensure they’re on track to complete their daily tasks and reconfigure their plan if they find they need more time.
Spaced Repetition for Better Knowledge Retention
Spaced repetition is among the best study habits for conquering the Forgetting Curve. According to Herman Ebbinghaus, the famed German psychologist and creator of the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve, learners will forget:
- 42% of what they learned within 20 minutes
- 67% within 24 hours
- 79% within 30 days
One of the best practices for applying spaced repetition is to show learners new and more challenging concepts more often while limiting older and easier topics. This also helps them focus on where they need improvement rather than what they already know. Finally, spaced repetition helps learners study for mastery instead of memorization.
When learners review the information before they’re about to forget it, their brains reinforce the memory while adding new details. This concept goes beyond repeatedly answering the same questions or reviewing the same material. Instead, it’s crucial to test learners on the same information through different mediums. For example, you could present them with a multiple-choice practice test on Monday, an essay response on Wednesday, and a learning game on Friday.
The human brain assigns more importance to information it sees regularly. Think about it. You tend to remember the things you see, hear, read, and do every day instead of the information you absorbed once. For example, your phone password is muscle memory, but the password you entered once for that website you visited last month is long gone.
According to Dr. Robert A. Bjork, a research professor in UCLA’s psychology department, waiting to review course material in repetitive, spaced sessions is more beneficial than reviewing it immediately after class.
Retention boils down to how many different ways a learner can encode information. As Bjork explains, when learners study something from a textbook and then immediately review it, they only encode the information in one way. However, more variety leads to more codes, thus better retention. Even a change of scenery can help encode information in a new way.
We practice spaced repetition in our daily lives, so weaving the concept into your test prep or certification training program will help your learners attain their desired outcomes.
Timed Notifications/Reminders to Reinforce Spaced Repetition
Spaced repetition is a great way to learn new skills, but how can you ensure your learners follow this strategy instead of cramming and hyper-focusing? It’s simple—notifications.
Think about all the things you’d probably forget to do in a day if not for push notifications on your phone or reminder emails to your inbox. Do you have an app to keep track of your medications? Did Facebook remind you of your aunt’s birthday?
Notifications are the most effective way to keep learners aligned with their self-paced learning schedule. Setting up timed notifications gives learners peace of mind knowing they won’t miss essential study opportunities. For example, you could send a daily push notification or reminder email prompting learners with questions related to this week’s lessons.
Notifications bridge the gap between instructor and learner in the digital age. In fact, studies show push notifications can increase app engagement by 88%. This means your learners leverage your practice questions, microlearning modules, and self-assessments more often, helping them attain their learning goals.
Research also shows reminder notifications increased attendance for in-person classes by more than 25%. Imagine the engagement boost you’ll see for your 2- to 5-minute microlearning modules, especially since learners can access them from the comfort of their smartphones.
Microlearning for Manageable Learning
Microlearning is the heart and soul of modern digital learning. It takes long-form, in-person lessons and breaks them into small, bite-sized modules between 15 seconds and 15 minutes long.
According to The International Journal of Educational Research Review, microlearning makes knowledge transfer 18% more effective. Furthermore, 58% of workers said they’d use their firm’s eLearning content if it were delivered in manageable chunks.
Microlearning strategies can elevate your certification training program by solving many of your learners’ bad study habits, primarily studying for too long or over-studying.
Microlearning also provides the following benefits to learners:
Combats Cognitive Load: According to American psychologist George A. Miller, human short-term memory can only hold five-to-nine pieces of information at a time, which is hardly anything. Microlearning helps combat this load by removing any extraneous information from your lessons. Now, learners are only getting the most important information. Microlearning also helps integrate information, such as combining visuals and text, allowing the brain to see it as one piece instead of two.
Promotes Spaced Repetition: When learners can review information in bite-sized chunks, they’re more likely to do so in their limited free time. Accessing microlearning lessons from their mobile phone gives them complete control over their study routines.
Boosts Learner Confidence and Understanding: When your learners rate their confidence levels, your microlearning modules can adapt to show them more questions on topics they aren’t as confident in. This ultimately helps them reach mastery, as microlearning strives to achieve complete understanding rather than the highest test score.
Omnichannel Delivery to Learn Anywhere, Anytime
Learning on the go is crucial to accommodating the modern learner. They don’t have time to attend long-form, in-person classes. Instead, they prefer to learn on their time, in their homes, and on their preferred devices.
The COVID-19 pandemic taught us the value of omnichannel learning when students worldwide were forced to take online classes. We quickly learned that the best omnichannel delivery systems leaned on visual, real-world examples rather than abstract theories.
Instructors learned to demonstrate concepts through bite-sized microlearning modules to develop a deeper understanding with learners. They also harnessed the power of gamification, which added a much-needed layer of fun to more complex topics.
Leverage Adaptive Learning Pathways for Mastery
Instead of cramming as many topics as possible, an LMS lets learners adapt their learning strategies to their current needs, strengths, and weaknesses. Adaptive learning pathways help learners master the subject matter by providing a personalized learning experience.
Personalized experiences go beyond the learner’s preferred study methods and give the learner the information they need to practice at that very moment. Adaptive pathways examine their performance during a knowledge check (a practice test, for example) and tag the content by difficulty, thus learning which information to push more frequently.
Learning management systems optimize learning data. For example, BenchPrep's LMS uses an algorithm to sort and rank content based on specific criteria to give it personalized meaning. We refer to this process as Learning Engine Optimization, and it uses comprehensive data such as question difficulty, user feedback, and cross-course material to rank content.
Real-Time Feedback and Data for Smarter Learning
When you give learners real-time feedback about their progress, you enable them to manage their time more efficiently. They know immediately which areas to focus on and which they can put aside. Compare that to waiting several hours (if not days) for test results and consider the time wasted studying material they already know.
Real-time, personalized feedback is the best way to boost learner confidence as they move through your course. Increased confidence leads to better test scores and improved retention of course materials. The more students that move through and graduate from your programs, the more successful your programs become.
BenchPrep is the only LMS to provide detailed analytics into learner sentiment and the only platform that leverages granular reporting on subtopics within your content. With that data, you can create more effective and engaging content to boost learner confidence.
Feedback also helps learners audit their study habits to see what is and isn’t working. Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to studying. Trial and error is the only way for learners to determine what’s best for them. So, the quicker you can help them make those discoveries through real-time feedback, the quicker they’ll develop better study habits.
Conquer Learners’ Bad Study Habits With the Right LMS
Bad study habits have been affecting learner success for far too long.
Pulling all-nighters does more harm than good, and over-studying is a wasted effort. Some learners read it and forget it, never taking the time to review material more than once, whereas others hyperfocus on one subject while neglecting others.
Whatever your learners’ bad study habits are, you can help correct them with the right LMS. Look for an LMS that offers spaced learning practices, microlearning modules, and omnichannel delivery systems to reach learners in digital spaces. An LMS that leverages data analytics to provide learners with real-time feedback when it comes to high-stakes exams and certification training is also crucial.
Check out BenchPrep’s LMS Comparison Guide to learn more about the value an LMS can bring to your test prep certification training program to set your learners up for success from the start when preparing for a high-stakes certification exam.