Bite-Sized Student Success Strategies for the Higher Ed Classroom

The Myth of Multi-Tasking

Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning

  • Use these Bloom's Taxonomy slides to help students see that what got them success in high school will not be sufficient for success in college.
  • Couple this instruction with the reading or problem-solving strategy below to help students move themselves to a higher level of learning.

Metacognitive Problem-Solving Strategy

  • Students can make use of example problems from the textbook or lecture for this strategy.
  • Students copy the problem on their own paper and close their notes or book.
  • They work through the problem without any external aids.
  • They check the answer with the book or notes; if correct, they move on. If incorrect, they close notes or book and try again, working on a single problem for 15-30 minutes to get the right answer.
  • Use these PowerPoint slides on metacognitive problem solving to help explain the strategy to students.

Reading Comprehension Strategy

  • Instead of doing a reading assignment the usual way, tell students to "warm up" their brains by skimming and previewing the material first.
  • They should look for titles, subtitles, bold-faced words, pictures and graphs, etc.
  • While skimming, they can also formulate questions about the material.
  • When they actually begin reading, have them read one paragraph, then look away from the material and paraphrase, before going on.
  • This fun PowerPoint slide on the reading comprehension strategy is a good example of how the bigger picture helps our brains make sense of information. 
  • Have students read the content and see if they can guess what it refers to before showing the title; (be sure to use in presentation mode because it has animation!)

Thinking Aloud Pair Problem-Solving (TAPPS)

  • Pair students together and designate one as the explainer and one as the questioner.
  • Give students a challenging problem to work or a case study to discuss.
  • The explainer outlines problem and goes through a step-by-step description of how to solve it.
  • The questioner listens but also can post questions or helpful hints.
  • At a given point, students reverse roles until the exercise concludes.
  • A variation of this technique is to give a pair of students a challenging problem that has been worked through but has an error it in; students must talk through the problem to find the error.

Study Cycle with Intense Study Sessions

Weekly Calendar

  • Here is a printable weekly calendar that students can use to help with time management.
  • This quick video gives a visual of why you need to "put the big rocks in first," i.e., schedule and give priority to the most important things.
  • Give students a few minutes to fill in "the big rocks" including the Intense Study Sessions that can be scheduled whenever they have 45 to 60 minutes free, such as between classes.

Exam Wrappers

  • Here is an exam wrapper that is used for a basic algebra class; it can be tweaked to apply to any type of course.
  • Students fill it out the last few minutes of class when they receive their tests back.
  • They turn it in to the instructor who reviews the information.
  • The exam wrappers are returned to the students about the time they should start studying for the next test.
  • Encourage students to use the information for future test preparation.

Developing a Growth Mindset

  • Students can learn about growth mindsets and how exercising their brains, plus having the right beliefs about their capabilities, can help them master topics they now struggle with.
  • Students can take a short quiz about mindsets at .
  • This Kahn Academy video or the first 5 minutes of this TED talk are also good resources.
  • This infographic helps students get an at-a-glance visual of the two mindsets

The Study Cycle, Metacognitive Problem-Solving Strategy and Reading Comprehension Strategy all used by permission: McGuire, S. Y., & McGuire, S. (2015). Teach students how to learn: Strategies you can incorporate into any course to improve student metacognition, study skills, and motivation.