Strategies of Success

Video by Emma Cox


Emma Cox, Video Producer

On March 13, 2020, schools across the nation and across the world shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Students in Maryland went on a two week break before beginning a new chapter in their learning career, online school. The transition was hard for many, trying to stay motivated and staying on top of schoolwork, but there are plenty of ways to adapt to the new environment.

Grace Sawyer mentions the 2008 study, “The Impact of Study Skills and Organizational Methods on Student Achievement” in the video above. This research project was written by Saint Xavier University graduate students studying at the university’s School of Education. In the abstract of their paper, they directly mention, “Organization is the prerequisite to success.” Three teachers and their classrooms were used as test subjects, if you will. Throughout the classroom, students with higher grades all had very organized desks, pencil pouches, and notebooks/ binders. Students who weren’t as successful in school possessed the very opposite traits. In order to change the habits of the unorganized students’ classrooms established new “norms.” These new norms included, “Providing guidelines [and] expectations… binder/ folder/ organizational tool expectations… [and] providing direct instruction on study skills.” Because we don’t have in-person classes, these responsibilities fall on the student fully.

This is where the hard part begins, laying out how you will take this responsibility. Using the norms listed above, I have asked friends and family how they organize themselves and have compiled a list for how you could get organized.

  1. Move your study space out of your bedroom if feasible.
  2. Map out a typical day, include when you eat, get up, and fall asleep. Also include any extracurriculars (sports, volunteering, etc.).
  3. Block out time to do homework.
    1. Many studies show that sitting down and working on homework for hours is not beneficial in learning. I work for 25 minutes, take a five-minute break, and repeat this four times before taking a longer 15–20-minute break. I keep doing this until I finish homework/ studying. This is called the Pomodoro Technique.
  4. Use binders and folders to organize between classes and even between units.
    1. I take notes on my iPad using Notability. I create a “binder” for each class and “dividers” for each unit. I also keep my homework in another binder. This helps me find the notes I need to study and allows me to quickly access homework.
  5. Make sure to get 8 hours of rest each night and exercise your body and mind daily.

Noting this as a guideline, getting organized is fairly simple and can have a big impact on grades in school. With good organization comes less stress, more free time, and happy parents.