Thomas Jefferson University

Adjusting Study Strategies for Online Learning

During this challenging time, we know you are all dealing with disruption and uncertainty. And in the midst of this new reality we face, you are all adjusting to new study realities too. Most importantly, we want to assure you that the Office of Student Affairs – and resources across the university – are still very much available and we want to offer support in every way we can, to help you stay well, stay positive, and keep learning and achieving your educational goals.

With that in mind, we offer some ideas, recommendations, and advice about adjusting to remote, online learning. These recommendations are general and are a starting point, and we encourage you to make individual appointments for video conferences to discuss any aspects of your study (including learning strategies or writing support), or to otherwise contact us any time.

Survey your resources

  • Become familiar with the new format of your course delivery
  • Carefully read and review all instructions from faculty, and syllabus updates
  • Identify how each component of the course will be delivered online and how to access the material
  • Identify all course-specific resources, and related resources you plan to use
  • Identify all assignments and due dates
  • Be sure you know what is expected of you in terms of daily engagement, synchronous activities, collaborative work, and individual activities
  • Know how to ask questions and how to contact and engage with faculty, tutors, and fellow students – discussion boards, email, group communication, virtual office hours, or other means

Get & Stay Organized

  • Remote, largely asynchronous learning can be hard to manage
  • Developing an explicit plan – for semester, week and day – is critical
  • For each class:
    • Identify important dates – due dates and exams
    • Identify any scheduled course activities
    • Plan how much time each course will require for scheduled activities and independent study and task completion
    • Write this information down for each class, so you can easily see and refer to it

Time Management

Daily & Weekly Schedules

  • Make an explicit plan for each week - refer to the time management pages of our website, and the downloadable weekly scheduling grid
  • See your week and plan when to work with both scheduled and unscheduled aspects of each course
  • With your weekly study needs in mind, also plan for self-care, exercise, relaxation, and sleep
  • Plan your daily routines. Chunk periods of time for focused study and avoid multi-tasking. Commit to manageable time periods really engaging with material (use the Pomodoro Technique if such focus and concentration is difficult)
  • Set up a progression of activities that may include periods of focused work on one course or subject alternating with periods of focused work on another course or subject. Interleave work with subjects or tasks.
  • Plan to include both time for daily processing of new material, and some review work that includes practice and question-based self-testing
  • Be sure to keep up with the course schedule – plan not to fall behind

Keep Your Learning Active

  • It is crucial to keep to the course schedule and engage with lecture and process new material everyday
  • Preview lecture - preview slides before listening, or strategically preview related reading or video
  • Watch lecture at regular speed - resist the urge to watch at faster speed, or to pause repeatedly for breaks or to address questions. Return to questions in post-lecture processing
  • Engage with lecture – listen and take strategic notes related to learning objectives, or questions you have
  • Process new material by checking comprehension and recall – and planning next stages of study
  • For each course think about how to address learning objectives and how to self-test
  • Identify self-testing resources – use learning objectives, study questions, problems, cases, flashcards, images to draw… varieties of ways to test how well you remember and understand and can apply information
  • Make time for practice-based, question-based work every day

Establish Good Study Routines

  • Do all you can to set up an environment that is good for you as a study space
  • Try to have a couple of options for study spaces and change to suit particular tasks
  • Avoid technological distractions
  • Set up breaks – try to use breaks to genuinely rest and reset (meditation, walks, and even short naps have been shown to benefit learning when you return to study)
  • Communicate with roommates or family to help them understand what you need and how they might help

Collaborate & Connect

  • Your course may already have structured ways to connect with classmates and to collaborate
  • Counter a sense of isolation or that you are studying alone, by making efforts to engage with classmates and with faculty
  • Set up times to talk - schedule Blackboard Collaborate Ultra or Zoom sessions
  • Use a platform that will allow you to share screens and refer to documents
  • If meeting about a project or coursework share an agenda ahead of time and know what you’d like to accomplish
  • Check on each other – offer help to others and seek help when you need it
  • Stay in contact with faculty and make sure you know how to ask questions and how to access help

Leverage & Use Resources

Mondays - Fridays
8am - 5pm  

Edison Building
18th Floor
(215) 503-6335
(215) 503-2787


Read More