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Motivation and Concentration


"I can't concentrate" is a common student complaint. Although learning to focus your attention may not be a simple task, you'll probably agree with most students that it's a skill well worth developing. Quality study time leads to better grades and extra hours in the day.

Check over the causes of poor concentration listed below, then experiment with the active learning strategies suggested for each problem area.

If you... Try to...
Lack interest in the subject

1. Read actively. Converse mentally with your textbook authors: question their viewpoints, anticipate their conclusions, and attempt to disprove their ideas
2. Learn to use an effective method of reading. Survey the material before you begin. Raise questions and then read for answers. Recite what you have learned.

3. Relate the course to your life, your goals, and your future.

Lack background knowledge 1. Use inexpensive review books available at the store.
2. Check out a less complex book on the same subject from the library.

3. Ask a friend or a tutor who has the background to help you fill in the gaps.

Lack goals for each study session 1. Plan ahead exactly what you expect o accomplish in a study session. Keep working until you accomplish your goals. Plan an enjoyable activity as a reward for a job well done.
Have poor reading and study skills 1. Go to the Student Academic Success Services (104 Eddy Hall) for individual help in developing these skills.
2. Enroll in Becoming a Master Student (LASk 1001).

Having trouble getting started 1. Choose one place to study. Keep pencils, paper, dictionary, and necessary supplies on hand.
2. Set a definite starting time. The sooner you begin, the sooner you will be free to do other things.

3. Warm up to studying with a brief review.

Are generally fatigued 1. Make proper rest, good diet, and exercise part of your regular schedule so that youÕll have the energy necessary to study efficiently.
2 Determine the time of day that is best for you and use this time for your most difficult assignments.

Get sleepy while studying 1. Study in a well ventilated room.
2. Take regular breaks.

3. Change subjects, or change your approach to studying the same subject.

Daydream (to escape from work) 1. Keep only one courses' material on your desk at a time. Keep visual (photographs, souvenirs) and auditory (favorite music) cues to a minimum.
2. Jot down your irrelevant thoughts on a scratch pad and come back to them later.

3. Study more actively (take notes, read aloud, etc.).

Worry about personal problems 1. Go to the appropriate student service agency for help Ð University Counseling Services, Financial Aid, Health Center, etc.
Worry about poor grades 1. See your professor to talk over low grades or unclear assignments.
2. Talk to your academic advisor to evaluate your program and to discuss difficulties you are experiencing.

3. Make an appointment to see a learning skills counselor (109 Eddy Hall).

Worry about deadlines 1. Keep a calendar of assignment deadlines and appointments.
2. Make a schedule of studying and completing assignments, then stick to your schedule.

Noise 1. Find a study room, an empty classroom, a corner in at the library - somewhere tucked away from campus traffic. Two or three hours of efficient study in quiet surroundings does more good than ten hours of study in a noisy place.