Academic skills

Academic Problems And Skills

Academic problems refer to a particular issue that an individual is having with learning. It can be one of the most difficult skills to learn how one can study effectively. Academic skills motivate the students and help them to become efficient learners.

Understanding Academic Problems And Academic Skills

Every parent, teacher, and school strives hard to provide the same educational opportunities to all learners equally. But some learners can face certain challenges and issues while learning. These academic difficulties can affect their ability to learn and their progress, causing a lack of educational accomplishments. Most of the academic psychological issues 1 are solutional when observed during the early stage and handled with professional help. But certain issues can cause trouble throughout the years. These problems may impact the learner’s social relationships and self-esteem negatively. These problems may have a significant impact on other areas of a student’s life, such as creating extreme stress on students which can take a toll on their mental and physical health in the future.

On the other hand, academic skills refer to a collection of learning strategies 2 , study habits, and time management skills that helps the students learn and absorb study materials. Learning is much more than just access to information. Academic skills help learners to master certain concepts. Such skills not only provide benefits 3 to students in examinations but also help them in the future. These skills are very essential for a successful academic career. Academic skills increase self-confidence, reduce anxiety and depression regarding learning and create a positive impact on the learners.

Types Of Academic Difficulties

Students face certain academic problems during their learning period, such as time management, bullying, inappropriate behavior toward others, disinterest in a specific subject, confusion about studies, underachievement, learning disabilities, lack of attention in learning, etc. These psychological issues may affect an individual’s entire academic career. It may influence academic performance negatively. People who experience any type of psychological issue related to studies should consult with a mental health professional as early as possible.

It is quite normal for students to face academic issues at some point in their academic careers. Some typical psychological problems regarding learning may include:

Types Of Academic Difficulties

1. Learning Disabilities

Some academic difficulties often indicate a possible learning disability, such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, etc.

A. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

ADHD is considered to be a neurobehavioral 4 disorder. It can be characterized by inattentiveness, impulsivity, hyperactivity, distractibility. It is thought to be the most common childhood mental health disorder.

B. Dyslexia

It is not a mental disorder, rather dyslexia is considered to be a neurological condition 5 . It primarily affects the learning ability of people. This condition is a language-based disability, which includes experiencing difficulties with spelling, word recognition, and comprehension.

These learning disorders may affect how a learner remembers, understands, or responds to information. It affects an individual’s ability to process information. A learning disability is not related to intelligence or motivation. Successful and brilliant people can also have learning disorders.

C. Dysgraphia

Dysgraphia refers to a writing disability 6 in which an individual finds it difficult to create or form letters. People who suffer from this disability are not able to write anything within a defined space.

D. Dyscalculia

It is a kind of mathematical disability 7 . People who experience difficulties in understanding math concepts and solving arithmetic problems suffer from dyscalculia.

2. Test Anxiety

It is one of the most common psychological issues experienced by students. It refers to a psychological condition 8 when a person experiences extreme anxiety before any testing situation. Moreover, a little stress is proved to be healthy for students to prepare adequately for a test. But the students, who suffer from test anxiety, respond to such situations differently. They almost become mentally numb during any testing situation. Test anxiety prevents them from performing at their best in any task. Excessive stress disrupts the process of learning and interferes with performance. It is considered to be a type of performance anxiety.

The severity of this condition may vary from an individual to another. A little anxiety can be very helpful as it makes a person mentally alert. It makes an individual ready to handle the challenges and difficulties presented in a test. According to Yerkes and Dodson’s law 9 , arousal levels and performance are interconnected. Increased arousal levels help one to perform better on tasks, but only up to a certain point. Due to test anxiety, one may find it difficult to concentrate on exams and remember things that he/she has studied. There are various potential reasons behind experiencing such test anxiety disorder. The primary causes include fear of failure, not being prepared for a testing situation, and poor testing history.

Some common symptoms of test anxiety may include:

A. Physical Symptoms

The physical signs of test anxiety include rapid heartbeat, sweating, dry mouth, shaking, nausea, fainting, diarrhea, and vomiting.

B. Behavioral Symptoms

The behavioral symptoms include kipping learning sessions, dropping out of school, avoiding a situation that involves testing, memory problems, negative self-talk, and difficulty concentrating.

C. Emotional Symptoms

The emotional symptoms include low self-esteem, helplessness, depression, and unnecessary anger issues.

3. Poor Study Skills

A learner needs to know how to effectively study. It can be one of the most difficult skills to learn. Study skills or study strategies refer to the approaches applied to learning. Good study skills help to increase competence, confidence, and self-esteem. Experiencing a lack of study skills can happen because of some poor study habits. Every learner has different study habits. Most of them are effective and help students to continue learning. But some study habits can cause underperformance. The reasons behind poor study skills include:

A. Listening to music while studying

Music is proved to be very beneficial while performing certain tasks. But research 10 has suggested that the habit of listening to music while studying doesn’t help people to learn something new. Especially, songs with lyrics take up processing space in the mind and make it difficult to understand the study material.

B. Cramming

Cramming refers to study intensively over a short period just before a test. A study 11 has found that students who have a habit of sleeping late and waking up late every day are more likely to perform poorly in tasks. A good sound sleep is essential for the body and the mind. It helps the body and the mind to rest and recover. Cramming can cause both poor health and poor performance.

C. Multitasking

Research 12 has revealed when a person does multitasking, he/she becomes less productive than when he/she focuses on finishing one task at a time. Students, who are exposed to different streams of information, may find it hard to focus on any one topic and to recall information.

D. Using social media while studying

It’s very common for people to be hooked to their social media accounts in this digital age. The temptation of checking social media, again and again, may cause extreme distraction 13 . Due to this habit, a student may not concentrate on the learning process.

E. Being disorganized

Organizing all the study-related materials, such as all exam dates, deadlines, assignments, the schedules, are very important to improve your study skills. Disorganization 14 will only end up with a learner studying harder.

4. Disinterest in a subject

A learner has to cover many different subjects while studying. It is very normal to feel disinterest in a specific subject. This may result in poor grades. Students can feel no interest in a particular subject because of various reasons, such as:

  • Students may see less value in the content of the subject.
  • They can feel demotivated because of the thought of not improving their performance.
  • They may have other priorities that take most of their time and attention.
  • Some learners may experience demotivation due to some physical, mental, and other personal problems, such as depression, dyslexia, substance abuse, etc.

5. Time management problems

The life of a student can be very busy. He/she has to manage extracurricular activities, homework, class schedules, social life, and study time altogether. It can be a daunting job for most students. Learners who are not very familiar with time management skills may not perform well in exams. Time management 15 is the greatest struggle of a student’s life.

People who don’t set a personal goal well in advance may struggle later in life. Setting a personal goal is very essential for managing and utilizing time. It gives a destination to reach and a vision to work forward. People may forget about an important piece of work if they don’t keep a well-scheduled to-do list. It helps the learners to work smarter. Keeping a to-do list refers to prioritizing the tasks on the list. Ineffectively scheduling tasks, not taking breaks between study hours, focusing on more than one topic at a time, failing to manage distractions – all these can create time management issues. It is important to recognize and rectify time management mistakes.

Academic Skills And Strategies

Successful students tend to share specific academic skills and strengths. Adapting these skills will not come in just one day. Learners can build up their proficiency in those areas with the proper time. The academic skills that a learner should develop include:

1. Content Discussion

Discussing the contents and the materials before any presentation or examination helps an individual to present his/her learning more clearly.

2. Communication is very important

Communication helps in clarifying goals and expectations. But communicating both orally and in writing simultaneously, is very crucial to handle. Communication 16 makes the learning process more interesting and cooperative.

3. Giving attention to details

This specific academic skill helps to make fewer mistakes while following instructions. It is very essential to focus on every little detail while studying. It helps the students to focus on the task and complete it accordingly.

4. Flexibility is necessary

Cognitively flexible 17 learners are considered to be capable of adapting to new challenges and changes. Flexibility benefits the learners in moving one task to another, learning new contexts, and solving problems.

5. Critical thinking

Learners may forget the details over the time that they studied. People who can think critically 18 , can identify problems, learn efficiently, make plans, find solutions, and evaluate progress.

6. Organization

Organizing the study-related materials is very important to achieve a specific goal. A student can plan, set a clear goal, manage time, and prioritize assigned tasks by organizing the schedule. It makes the job easier for the students. Learning to organize helps to improve academic skills.

7. Health

Sufficient sleep benefits the student to perform well in tasks. Having enough sleep, doing exercises, and getting proper nutrition is proved to be a proactive way to boost the brain. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day will help to stay hydrated. It is important to avoid sugary 19 and caffeinated 20 beverages during the examination as it can increase the anxiety level.

8. Passion Matters

Students can be motivated by thoroughly engaging in a subject. Learners who are curious and enthusiastic to learn and show commitment to learning, perform better than those who have no passion for learning.

9. Study Efficiently

Some institutions provide study skill classes and other resources that help a student to learn study techniques. A systematic study schedule helps students to stay relaxed before a test. It eases the growing stress level.

10. Advance Preparation

Preparing well before an exam provides numerous benefits always. People who do their preparation thoroughly feel more confident walking into the test.

11. Relaxation Techniques

Research 21 suggests that using relaxation techniques during exam weeks offers a stress-free test experience. Students can use relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) 22 , deep breathing, guided imagery in the weeks leading up to a test. Progressive muscle relaxation is considered to be a deep relaxation technique to relieve insomnia, control stress and anxiety.

How Can Teachers Help Students?

Teachers can strengthen the basic academic skills of students with individualized and additional support. According to research 23 , teachers have the potential to strengthen the effectiveness of those skills. At first, the teacher must describe the academic problem of the student very clearly and in specific terms. The most important step in the entire process is to know what is causing the problem. Knowing the cause is considered to be essential for choosing the appropriate intervention strategy. The intervention strategies benefit the learner to achieve academic success. But the teachers should modify the instruction to the students.

For developing these skills, the teacher can create a written document of the intervention strategies for implementation. The teacher should set a goal for the student as progress monitoring is very important to achieve the ultimate success in academic skills. It is one of the most essential parts of the process to improve the academic performance of the student. Otherwise, the teacher will not be able to know whether the student is improving or not.

How To Study Effectively?

How To Study Effectively?

Studying is not just a part of learning study materials. It helps to learn patience, trials, and errors, practice, attentiveness, failures, academic skills, and achievements. The below are some of the tips to study effectively and efficiently.

1. Stick to Books

When it comes to learning something new, books are always a necessity. Research 24 suggests that books are more useful than any other eLearning media. Preferring a hard copy over a digital device is proved to be more helpful in terms of learning.

2. Practice Tests

Students should arrange a set of old exams practice papers to complete before any test. Practicing the old exam papers provides an idea about how the questions might be presented on the examination day.

3. Attentiveness

Concentration is important during the learning process. An individual should avoid any kind of distractions when studying. People who are active listeners and pay attention to every little detail are considered to perform better in examinations.

4. Focus on a specific topic at one time

Research 25 has found that it is important to focus on any one topic at one time during studying. Texting while studying won’t help when it comes to learning. Multitasking disrupts the mind set of learning and extends the study time. It may lower the grades in tests.

5. Schedule planning

It is essential to know what needs to be accomplished before creating a study schedule planner. Students should focus on the topics to be covered and the types of questions to be practised. Setting specific goals for each study session helps to gain self confidence on the specific topics and to achieve success.

6. Looking after self

Apart from learning academic skills, it is also important to look after one’s health in order to learn effectively and retain information over a long period of time. Hence, it is crucial that you avoid inconsistent sleep patterns, unhealthy diets, lack of physical activity and excessive caffeine consumption, particularly before and during examinations, suggests a 2017 study 26 . The study adds that “Sleep is key for examination preparation as sleep deprivation reduces the effectiveness of study,” and “A balanced diet must be maintained during examination season,” as a poor diet can affect the learner’s level of energy.

Academic Skills Development

Developing academic skills is all about becoming an informed and independent learner, it motivates the students to become more efficient learners. Such skills provide the necessary confidence to them to perform well in a testing situation. Academic skills development is considered to be vital for achieving a successful career.

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