Purpose of study guides.
Study guides provide a way to visually organize lecture notes and text book
material so that you can increase your comprehension and memory of large amounts of
information. Preparing study guides allows you to see and make meaningful
connections with the material, thus acquiring the higher levels of learning expected by
many of your professors.
Study guides and learning levels.
Preparing for tests often involves more than memorizing facts, figures, formulas,
and definitions. Many professors expect you to demonstrate critical thinking, which
involves more than rote memorization. In many classes, with multiple choice and essay
exams, you are required to compare/contrast, analyze, evaluate, or synthesize
information you have learned. To be able to learn at these higher levels, you must
develop strategies to organize lecture notes and text book material so that you can
increase your comprehension and ability to think critically.
Examples of learning levels.
Review the following examples of test questions from a sociology class. The first
question only requires that you recall a definition, which you can do well through rote
memorization techniques such as flash cards. The remaining questions require you to
make connections or conclusions that may not have been directly presented by your
professor or in your text book.
Question 1. A group of relatives by marriage constitute
a. a conjugal family
b. an extended family
c. a nuclear family
d. none of the above
Question 2. Sammy's parents had a party for him on his fifth birthday. They invited
both sets of grandparents and Sammy's father's brother and his
children. This is called a gathering of:
a. a consanguine family
b. a conjugal family
c. an egalitarian family
d. a patriarchal family
Question 3. Discuss the term conjugal families, by making reference to the different
types of societies to which they could belong.
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Question 4. Describe the economic consequence of a neolocal
To correctly answer test questions like those in the example, you must create the types
of study guides that will help you:
1. visualize and understand relationships among concepts and ideas.
2. condense course material into smaller amounts of information that are
easier to remember.
3. create examples and apply information to "real world" situations.
Six basic study guides.
Within this Idea Sheet are examples of six basic types of study guides. These
study guides can be adapted based on your personal learning style and the information
you are needing to organize. Experiment with these, as well as using other study guide
formats that you have found to be effective. Remember, the purpose for study guides
is to organize information so that you can understand it, remember it, and demonstrate
your knowledge at the level your professor expects.
Many students benefit from information that is presented visually. The concept
map provides a study tool that allows you to organize information that may not be
sequential. Unlike an outline, which is linear, the concept map presents information
spatially. However, you still organize information from the general to the specific. You
can then add details, examples, and information regarding “real life” application of the
Concept maps are useful for classes in any subject area.
Read the following edited excerpt from Personal Adjustment: The psychology of
everyday life by Derlega and Janda and then refer to the concept map developed from
We will examine three of the major psychological approaches to personality:
the dynamic, humanistic, and social learning approaches. The dynamic
approach is also called the psychoanalytic view, based on the work of Sigmund
Freud. One aspect of Freudian theory is that a person is continually in a state of
conflict. Humans are caught between opposing forces, which results in their
being in conflict between those forces. the source of the opposing forces lies in
the psychic apparatus, which can be divided into three parts: the id, the ego,
and the superego. The id consists of the instinctual drives a person possesses
at birth, such as hunger, thirst, sex, aggression. The ego provides the capacity
for delayed gratification. The superego is thought of as the "conscience".
A comparison chart provides a study tool that allows you to organize information visually
into categories. This format helps you to see relationships among categories or characteristics.
It is a very effective format to use when you need to be able to see the differences or similarities
among facts, theories, theorists, processes, etc. You can create comparison charts that are
blank, requiring you to fill in all of the information; completed with all of the information; or
partially complete, depending on your learning needs and how you are expected to demonstrate
your knowledge on tests.
AUTHORITY TYPES (for a sociology class)
Type Primary Characteristics Origin of the authority Examples
INFORMATION PROCESSING (for a cognitive psychology class)
Type of memory Information stored Capacity Duration of info. Format
sensory temporary; senses high <1 sec. (vision) literal
short-term brief; info. currently limited <20 seconds auditory &
being used verbal
long-term relatively permanent unlimited(?) long or perm. (?) semantic
Name of organic compound Functional group Structure
2. O O
C RC H
3. C C
The process diagram provides a study tool that allows you to visually represent
methods, processes, steps, or stages that describe how events occur. For example, in a
geology class, you learn about how rock layers are formed. In a nutrition class, you
learn about the digestive process. In a political science class, you learn how a bill is
introduced and passed into law. In a human development class, you learn the stages of
Process diagrams take complex information and visually represent it to make it
easier for you to learn and remember the important concepts and facts.
The outline provides a study tool that allows you to organize information in a
linear format. It shows how ideas are related to the topic and lists information in relative
importance, using Roman or Arabic numerals or indentations.
The outline tends to be the format used most often by students for their note
taking and study guides.
Three Major Psychological Approaches to Personality
1. Dynamic (also called psychoanalytic)
Person continually in conflict; opposing forces
Source of forces = psychic apparatus
B. Psychic apparatus
Id: instinctual drives possessed at birth such as hunger, thirst, sex, and aggression
most important drives (per Freud)
Ego: reconciles demands of id with "real" world moderates and guides basic
instincts in line with society's norms provides capacity for delayed gratification
Superego: conscience ("internalized parent") shaped by social forces such as
school, church, close acquaintances
3. Social learning
The branching diagram (also called a web or idea map) is less formal and
structured than some of the other study guides. Many students are unfamiliar with this
technique and find it less comfortable as a study aid. However, it is quite useful when
brainstorming ideas for a research paper, as well as being another technique you can
use to organize your lecture or text notes.
A branching diagram begins with a central circle, in which you write your main
topic. Draw lines radiating out from the circle (like wheel spokes) on which you place the
main ideas or major points. Draw additional lines from these lines, which contain
supporting ideas or points.
The time line provides a study tool that allows you to organize information that is
presented chronologically. This format allows you to review information as a sequence
of events that must be understood and remembered in sequence. Time lines would be
effective to use in classes in which you are presented:
< historical developments: history, anthropology, political science, music, art
< biological developments: biology, anatomy, physiology
< human or other developments: psychology, biology, natural resources
Day 1---------------conception; zygote forms; cleavage begins
Day 3---------------embryo reaches uterus; now called a morula
Day 5----------------morula becomes a blastocyst
Day 6----------------embryo implants in uterus and forms a trophoblast
Day 7---------------embryo size of a period (dot)