Students are sometimes overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information that comes at their heads in a classroom. To make it even more difficult, instructors often expect more than rote memorization of facts and details, but don’t always tell you what you should be able to do. That’s where the course’s Learning Challenges can actually be helpful to you. Use the information to help you target your study time and be more effective.
When you are reviewing the course’s Learning Challenges, remember that these challenges include what I, as your instructor, believe are most critical for your successful understanding of the material. With that in mind, let’s talk about some of the verbs you need to know.
Describe (or explain). When you see these words, it means that you need to be able to do more than define a term. Add details, thoughts, and put the concept or idea into your own words. That will be your biggest help.
Outline (or summarize). Focus on key words and ideas, rather than on using the original source’s words. Think about how you might explain the idea to a younger sibling, a child, or someone who has no background.
Evaluate (or prove, support, defend). This is about developing an argument, using evidence that enhances your ideas or understanding. Evidence may include examples, descriptions, definitions, or anything else that might build up your idea.
Create. If you see this, you know the information needs to be pulled together in a different way than you probably learned it. Frequently, this will be accompanied with specific graphic organizers (charts, diagrams, etc.) to help build up or demonstrate your understanding of a topic.
Keep pushing to learn! Several students have found this method of studying really helpful, and I sincerely hope it works for you, too!