Five Ways to Break Unproductive Study Habits of Adult Learners

Posted by on October 6th, 2015

High school wasn’t right for your students for a number of reasons. Maybe they were bored by the general education curriculum, they were needed at home, or they became a single parent. Some students just don’t thrive in a structured environment. Modern approaches to the GED® exam and high school equivalency offer real options – if you teach your adult learners to avoid five unproductive study habits.

Make it Special and Easy

Contemporary adult education is not the regimen it once was. Self-paced, accessible, and affordable, it still needs instructors who invite, engage, and enable their returning students to seek, accept, and accomplish new goals. Instructors help students succeed by offering:

  • Entertaining online lectures
  • Short, focused quizzes that assess comprehension and skills
  • Collaborative and rewarding small group activities
  • Constructive dialog that reflects student questions
  • Rewards that link effort with goals

Adults can return to complete the certification they need to fulfill their dreams, improve their job search, and earn more money with more comfort, independence, and self-confidence – once they get past some of the problems that led to their dropping out in the first place.


Five Unproductive Study Habits

    1. Bad Study Buddy: Nervous about returning to school, adults will bond with the student who befriends them early. This can lead to a co-dependency or distraction as that buddy brings chatter, gossip, and too much wasted time to the “friendship.”
    2. Cramming: Waiting too long to study or complete assignments may have contributed to past problems in the first place. Cramming is frustrating and usually self-defeating when it leads to burnout and poor performance.
    3. Reading without Comprehension: Reading under pressure or distraction leads to poor comprehension and performance on quizzes and in discussion. Reading out of necessity is a self-defeating pursuit.
    4. Poor Note Taking: Poor notes are no better than no notes. Poor notes take time, and they waste energy and good intentions. They are a sign of little engagement and have a way of pulling the rug out from under the best student efforts.
    5. Procrastination: Stalling and putting things off indefinitely traps students. Procrastination complicates things, and it smothers plans for better things.


How to Break Unproductive Study Habits

  • Productive Work Study: Explain the purpose and plan in selection of an effective work study buddy. You improve student potential and promise by encouraging students to befriend someone with similar interests and targets, perhaps, through icebreaker exercises in which students share their stories and objectives.
  • Schedule: If cramming is the result or poor planning, even reasonable scheduling will permit students their necessary sleep, nutrition, and down time. Modern approaches to adult education allow students to run their own schedules to fit their respective responsibilities. But, it is also true that you may need to show them how to structure their plan.
  • Read Smartly: Teach students to use highlighters, make marginal notes, and summarize during and after reading to improve comprehension.
  • Summary Notes: When students read and walk away from their reading, they often leave their thoughts behind. You can demonstrate what the discipline it takes to complete and compile notes to support comprehension.
  • Rewards: Procrastination is a habit students can change. If you reward achievement immediately, personally, and publicly, you also reinforce best practices.


Accessibility is the key. Provide your students with the tools they need to succeed by setting clear goals, supporting individuals and groups and rewarding achievements. Help your students break their unproductive study habits!

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