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Using Psychology to Achieve Academic Success

written by: Julia Bodeeb • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 1/5/2012

Teach your students psychological strategies to help them reach their academic potential and eliminate harmful stress. Help students focus on positive thinking and to visualize their achievements.

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    Motivational Techniques

    Many motivational techniques are available for teachers to help students improve their achievement in the classroom.

    Visualization

    Visualization is a wonderful tool to teach students. This technique involves visualizing success in an upcoming task. If a student is about to take the S.A.T. college entrance test they could visualize the way they will feel when they open the letter with excellent test results. Or they could visualize the way they will feel when they walk out of the testing room knowing they worked hard, their preparation was very helpful, and they are feeling they performed well on the test.

    Visualization helps train the mind to expect positive results. It helps students decrease stress by giving them a mental image to call upon when they are feeling anxious. By the time they arrive the day of the task they have imagined doing well so many times that they are ready to settle in and focus on the task.

    Athletes and performers use visualization; it works well with students too.Maintaining a positive mindset always helps students achieve their goals. So explain how visualization works to your students and spend some time in the classroom doing sample exercises with time to visualize success on an upcoming academic task.

    “Stop” Strategy

    Another technique that is very helpful to students is the “Stop” strategy. Train students to think “stop” every time they start to worry about school and long-term goals. Teenagers sometimes dwell in negativity and worry too much about failure. So train them to think the word“stop” when they get anxious or to even hold up their hand (if they are alone) in a “stop” motion.

    Journal Writing

    Journal writing is another excellent tool to help students learn how to handle stress. Writing is cathartic and therapeutic. It helps teenagers release their feelings and lessen stress. It may also strengthen their decision making abilities and logic.

    Tell students to try to find some quiet time at least once a week to write in their journal about their upcoming academic goals and decisions they have to make. Writing helps one sort through different choices and view all options available in a logical manner. Journal writing gives teenagers time to sort through their chaotic emotions and focus on the decisions looming in their lives.

    Writing in a journal also gives teenagers a break from peer pressure. They get time to think about what is important to them without outside voices interjecting other opinions. Writing helps teenagers make decisions they feel comfortable with. It helps them think through complex issues and find clarity in their thoughts.

    Review Notes Before Sleep

    Tell students some psychologists believe reviewing notes right before sleep may help students retain information at a higher rate than when notes are reviewed at other times of the day.The mind may mull over the information it processed just before sleep.

    Also, starting the habit of reviewing notes before sleep ensures an ongoing pattern of studying every night and taking the time to focus on what was learned that day. The human mind likes the comfort of rituals. If one studies and reviews notes each night before bed that ritual will become a soothing routine.

    For more information about using psychology to help students, go to the website of the American Psychological Association at: www.apa.org.