Teaching strategies of studying


Students go to university in order to acquire knowledge, skills and competences within one or more subject areas by studying the fields in question. It is important that the students develop appropriate study strategies so they can gain good academic skills. Academic skills do not just develop spontaneously, so teachers need to teach their students not only subject knowledge, but also how to achieve this knowledge.



Study strategies – a joint responsibility

The development of appropriate study strategies is a joint responsibility which both students and teachers need to consider. During their studies, students have to ‘learn how to learn’. In other words, they have to learn how to acquire new academic knowledge and skills on an ongoing basis. Academic knowledge and skills can be acquired in many different ways depending on the academic area in question, so study strategies vary a good deal as a result. The teacher is responsible for explaining the approaches and methods which are appropriate for the subject in question.

Meta-communication creates transparency

If the teacher and the students discuss not only the subject content that needs to be learned but also how to learn it, the students will become aware of the methods and approaches that are required. The students can use this knowledge to acquire new subject knowledge and skills both inside and outside the classroom. Focusing on and talking about how to study a subject elevates the teaching to a meta-level at which appropriate study strategies become visible for the students.

Self-regulated learning

Students who are aware of their own study strategies and able to adjust them appropriately depending on requirements often perform better than other students. Students who are unable to describe their study strategies may find it hard to adjust them and select better strategies. Students are not able to adjust their study strategies by pure instinct. Self-regulated learning is something which students can develop over time if they are taught which study strategies are appropriate for the subject area in question.


Teachers should ask themselves the following questions:

  • Which strategies are appropriate for studying my subject area?
  • How can I make it clear which different strategies the students should use? 
  • How can I teach the students to be aware of how they use different strategies?
  • How can I explain what self-regulated learning is?
  • How can I show students good examples of how to use a strategy? 


Hanne Balsby Thingholm

Assistant Professor