Creating a good learning environment

Related: Study Skills

Students studying in study carrelsChoosing a space

You will want to study as much as possible in the same place during the year – we are creatures of habit.

If you use the library as your place of study during the semester, you may find it difficult to concentrate if you decided to study at home during study week. For some people it will make no difference, but for others this change of environment will have an effect so plan ahead for your study environment needs.

When choosing a space it should be comfortable, quiet, well ventilated and distraction free.

Whether you prefer to be upright at a desk or not, to have bright or subdued lighting, or background music playing etc will be an individual choice. If you are finding it difficult to concentrate look at your environment and make some adjustments.

Things to consider

  • Scheduled study times with specific goals for each period can help you focus – leading to good habits. You do need to be flexible with your programme though – if you don’t, unplanned interruptions can impair your concentration and your learning.
  • Study alone unless specific pair or group activities have been planned.
  • Anticipate interruptions and negotiate with friends and family to give you space during specific study times you have chosen.
  • Noise such as loud music, traffic, machinery etc can be bad for concentration. If it not physically possible to turn it off you may want to change your place of study or block your ears in some way.
  • Plan for set tasks – ones which you can realistically achieve before you lose concentration. Between 20 and 30 minutes is a typical concentration span. This varies according to time of day, subject being studied and your mood.  Working in short bursts of brilliance is better than long periods of being “half-awake”.
  • Even when your concentration is high, plan to take short breaks; this will prevent tiredness from creeping up on you, and reducing your concentration sooner than need be.