Students often cram in their studying whenever and wherever they can, such as on the train on the way to school, or in their beds with late-night snacks. But research shows your learning environment actually plays a crucial role in study success.
Having a consistent and more formal study set up, like a desk in the corner of your bedroom or living room, or even heading to a local coffee shop can help get in the study groove faster as your mind and body begin to associate those surroundings with study activities.
When creating your ideal study space, keep the following criteria in mind:
Comfort: No matter where you choose to study, try to make it as comfortable as you can so you can limit distractions. This includes comfortable seating with the correct level of support and the right height for your books, laptops or other study materials so you’re not constantly leaning over which can wear on your shoulders and back muscles.
Lighting: Lighting plays an important role in how you engage in learning. Studies have found students learning in naturally lit environments typically achieve grades that are 25% higher than those in dimly lit classrooms. Natural light has also been shown to effectively boost mood and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Try to take advantage of natural lighting as much as possible, by positioning desks near windows and choosing study rooms that benefit from sunlight throughout the day. You should try and avoid using fluorescent lamps, as these can cause glare and make you feel tired quicker.
Noise: While some people prefer noise and others prefer silence, controlling the noise in your study area is ideal. This is because there are generally times when noise such as music can help you with your studies, for example when doing more creative tasks. But there are also times when silence is more effective, such as when memorizing or processing materials. Regardless of how you use noise, too much noise, or the wrong types of noises (e.g. people talking, banging, music you don’t like) can easily distract you from your studies. If possible, try and find a calm and quiet study space where you can learn most effectively.
Clutter: The tidiness of your study space can play a role in your ability to absorb new materials. Research suggests you will be more motivated and focused on your learning if you study area is clear and tidy, whereas a messy or disorganized space can cause feelings of stress or anxiety, which will have a negative effect on your learning. Give your study area a little tidy before setting in.
Remove Distractions: When setting up your study space, try to keep distractions out of arms reach. For example, put your phone in another room, turn off the TV or even use an app to limit the internet access on your computer so you’re not tempted to scroll unnecessary websites.
Want to know more about your specific study challenge? Current MaKami students can see a learning strategist on campus and get a one-on-one study skills evaluation, learning plan and other supports to help them succeed.