Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

A Study in Studying

Sherry Franklin, Daniel Schwarz, Mary Braggs | Published: August 16th, 2022 by K20 Center


Students taking AP or Concurrent Enrollment courses will be able to benefit from actively thinking about how they study for these college-level courses compared to their other courses. Students who know how to approach their college courses differently will be better prepared to succeed with these study strategies.

Essential Question

Which study skills will help you succeed in high school and college?

Learning Goals

  • Students acquire an understanding of study skills that will enable them to succeed in high school and college-level classes.

  • Students identify instances in which they will be able to employ these study skills over the course of their academic careers.

Materials List

  • Activity Slides (attached)

  • I Used to Think… But Now I Know handout (attached; one per student)

  • Paired Texts H-Chart handout (attached; one per student)

  • Study Skills handout (attached; one per student)

  • Computers, tablets, or smartphones with internet access

  • Pens/pencils

  • Paper

  • Poster board (optional)

  • A lengthy article (to be chosen by the facilitator)


15 Minute(s)

Begin by giving students a hypothetical scenario. Display slide 3 from the attached Activity Slides and pass out the attached I Used to Think… But Now I Know handout. Ask students to take a couple of minutes to read through the paragraph on the top of the handout.

Once they are finished reading, inform students they will be completing the first part of an I Used to Think… But Now I Know activity. Ask them to fill out the left-hand column, labeled "I Used to Think…" In this section, they will take a few minutes to write down possible study skills they would use if they ever found themselves in the scenario described in the paragraph. Give students about 5 minutes to do this and let them know they will be filling in the right-hand column during the next meeting of the club, so they'll need to hold on to them.

After students have finished writing, take a few moments to ask them what they came up with. Try to get a variety of responses. Explain to students that they should not worry about the transition to college because they can acquire study skills in high school that will prepare them for their college workloads. They can refine these skills and use additional skills once they are in college.

Before moving on to the Explore, share the essential question on slide 4 and learning objectives on slide 5.


20 Minute(s)

Give students a lengthy piece of writing to look through. It should be relevant to the topics that are examined in your club, and it should be approximately 1–2 pages of small print. As an example, consider using this link to "Common Sense" by Thomas Paine, which would be an ideal article for students in a history or government club to review and annotate.

Display slide 6. Have students work with partners for this portion of the activity. Read and discuss the directions with students. Inform students they will only have 10 minutes to read through and acquire an understanding of the content in the article. In pairs, students will work to accomplish two things as they read: 1) discover a strategy that will help them absorb the new information from the article in a short amount of time, and 2) obtain a thorough enough understanding of the article so that they could summarize it for the rest of the club.

When the 10 minutes are up, the club will reconvene, and each student pair will present. One student will share with everyone the method that they used to memorize the main points from the article. The other student will recite to the club what they remember learning in the article.

After every student has shared, make sure to commend them for undertaking such a difficult task. Draw attention to any strategies used by the students that would be well-suited for studying in AP, concurrent enrollment, or college courses.


25 Minute(s)

Display slide 7 to go over the instructions with students. Provide students with copies of the attached Study Skills handout. This handout contains a list of study skills that were recommended by college and career coach Bill Leamon on p. 44 of his book, College Success 101.

Remaining in pairs, students will first read the list of strategies Leamon recommended for studying in high school. Using the Paired Texts H-Chart strategy and the attached Paired Texts H-Chart handout, they will enter what they have learned on the left side of an H-chart and answer the following question: Which study skills would be useful for you during your time in high school, and how will they help you study?

Display slide 8. Student pairs will read the list of Leamon's strategies for college students and answer the following question on the right side of the H-chart: Which study skills would be useful for you when you're in college, and how will they help you study?

Display slide 9. Instruct students to fill in the center of the chart and answer the following question: What do these skills have in common and how can they help you improve your studying abilities? Students should spend about 5 minutes on each section of the chart.

Take about 10 minutes after the completion of the H-chart to reconvene as a group and discuss students' responses.

Display slide 10 and review the instructions. At home, each student will choose an article to read.

They will have to time themselves, and they should use the following time constraints when doing so:

  • 1–2 pages = 15 minutes

  • 3–5 pages = 30 minutes

  • 6–7 pages = 45 minutes

  • 8–10 pages = 1 hour

As they read, students will have to use the studying strategies that resonate most with them. In the vein of the article they read during the Explore, students should try to find articles that focus on subjects that are of little or no interest to them. Before you dismiss students at the end of the first meeting of the club, display slide 11 to review the guidelines for the student presentations.


60 Minute(s)

At the second meeting of the club, students will deliver their presentations. In the first part of each presentation, the student will share with the group which skills they ended up using and how useful they found them to be. The second portion of the presentation will give the student an opportunity to share what they learned from the article in a creative way (e.g., poster, PowerPoint presentation, science demonstration, etc.).

Overall, students can expect to spend about 15–60 minutes reading, 60–120 minutes preparing the presentation, and 45–120 minutes presenting during the next meeting of the club, depending on the size of the group.


5 Minute(s)

Display slide 12. Students will take out their I Used to Think… But Now I Know handouts and fill out the right-hand column, labeled "But Now I Know." They'll write what they've learned about study skills for high school and college, identifying which ones they have found to be most useful and acknowledging if there are any in particular that they plan to use from now on.

Research Rationale

Regardless of the focus of the extracurricular activity, club participation can lead to higher grades (Durlak et al., 2010; Fredricks & Eccles, 2006; Kronholz, 2012), and additional benefits are possible when these clubs explore specific curricular frameworks. Club participation enables students to acquire and practice skills beyond a purely academic focus. It also affords them opportunities to develop skills such as self-regulation, collaboration, problem-solving, and critical thinking (Allen et al., 2019). When structured with a strong curricular focus, high school clubs can enable participants to build the critical social skills and "21st-century skills" that better position them for success in college and the workforce (Allen et al., 2019; Durlak et al., 2010; Hurd & Deutsch, 2017). Supportive relationships between teachers and students can be instrumental in developing a student's sense of belonging (Pendergast et al., 2018; Wallace et al., 2012), and these support systems enable high-need, high-opportunity youth to establish social capital through emotional support, connection to valuable information resources, and mentorship in a club context (Solberg et al., 2021). Through a carefully designed curriculum that can be implemented within the traditional club structure, students stand to benefit significantly as they develop critical soft skills.