Insights into Study Strategies and Habits: A Study with Undergraduate Students in Spain and the U.K.

Suzanne Fergus, Amy Heelan, Sara Ibrahim, Hasan Oyman, Yolanda Diaz-de-Mera, Alberto Notario

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The approach that students take in their studies at university is critical not only for their academic success but is equally important in life-long learning for their career and professional development. Cognitive science has demonstrated that retesting oneself on material when learning enhances and promotes greater retention of knowledge compared to rereading the material. Learning that is spaced out over multiple study sessions also allows for greater retention of knowledge in the longer-term compared to “cramming” of information. A survey study with first- and second-year undergraduate students (n = 135) at a university in Spain and in the U.K. was carried out to investigate the study strategies and habits prevalent in these cohorts and to explore the extent of their metacognitive awareness. It was found that most students endorsed self-testing but also suboptimal study methods such as rereading, copying notes, and cramming. There was evidence of differences between the U.K. and Spain in relation to decisions for prioritizing studying, returning to review course material, and time of study. A key conclusion is the need to embed and emphasize effective strategies for learning into curricula and for faculty to have metacognitive awareness in their teaching.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3084–3089
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Chemical Education
Issue number10
Early online date28 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - 12 Oct 2021


  • Distance Learning/Self Instruction
  • General Public
  • Interdisciplinary/Multidisciplinary
  • Learning Theories


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