Waubonsee Voices

Inspiring Students to Become Effective Learners

headshot of Char Landmeier
Char Landmeier

Student life today can be a challenge. Many students, whether traditional or those returning to college seeking new skills, face the same struggles. There is the financial struggle to meet tuition, the stress of outside distractions, and workplace demands for ever-changing competencies, among others. Then there are the challenges faced once inside a classroom — not only mastering specific course content but also mastering the art of learning itself. 

This is where I step in. I am the Tutoring and Learning Strategies Supervisor at Waubonsee Community College. The tutors, academic coaches and I work together to provide assistance to our students in academic subject areas, as well as guiding them in general learning strategies. 

In working with our students, many concerns are voiced. The problems range from not having enough time, not being able to read for retention and understanding, not knowing how to write a paper or do documentation, to having extreme text anxiety. Many students simply just don’t know how to begin. All students know how to read, but they may not understand the process of reading academically. Then there is the technology-related challenge of having to use Internet programs with access codes, and the general anxiety of being in a new academic environment.  

When faced with these and other student concerns, we open our bag of tricks and get to work. Our goal is to not only assist our students with their academic needs, but also equip them with the tools to be effective, confident learners. We share a variety of study methods and survival techniques that researchers have found to work well, including: 

  1. Time management- Make and keep a study schedule. Keep an academic calendar where you list all your commitments and a weekly calendar listing your fixed commitments. This way you see your academic commitments and set your study schedule accordingly.  
  2. Know your learning style. How do you learn best? Once you know that, you can choose the right techniques and maximize your study time.
  3. Textbook Reading – Learn how to read and study across disciplines. Reading or studying math or science requires a different approach than social sciences or humanities.
  4. Note Taking – Do you know what Cornell note taking is, or a think link, or an informal outline?  Taking notes from a textbook as well as in class is important. The time spent in note taking is not lost; in fact, it is a time-saver. Note taking involves you in the learning process in ways you cannot do without.
  5. Don’t rely on inspiration for motivation.  Get in training for tests and exams by doing assignments and preparing daily through preparation and review to be ready for action.

No matter what age you are or what content you’re studying, these survival techniques will reduce your stress and make you a more productive student. And that’s why we, and our fellow educational professionals both at Waubonsee and beyond, are here — to believe in the full potential of every student we meet and do our best to help them realize it. 

Charlotte Landmeier is the Tutoring and Learning Strategies Supervisor at Waubonsee.