How To Create Effective Study Guides Using Graphic Organizers

Written By Smart Guides For Learning | April 2023

The high loads of information in our books, lectures, and other references can overwhelm our minds whenever we set aside time to study. This is when helpful study guides and visual aids come to the rescue for students. Creating effective study guides using graphic organizers can help students to better understand and retain information. When you are presented with a textbook that has a lot of information, a great study guide can help you break down the information into pieces that are easier to take in your mind. There are several graphic organizers that can help you such as mind maps, flow charts, tables, and diagrams.

Here are some tips on how to create effective study guides using graphic organizers:

Contents In This Article

  1. Create a checklist of topics.
  2. Know your learning style.
  3. Use visual study aids.
  4. Break down complex ideas.
  5. List terms and definitions.
  6. Connect key points and ideas.
  7. Include examples of concepts.
  8. Use color and imagery.
  9. Revise on your own.
  10. Review every day.

Create a checklist of topics.

Begin by identifying the main topics and concepts that will be covered in the study guide. This will help to provide a clear structure for the information and ensure that everything is covered. You can check the list of topics or chapters from the textbook that you discussed in class. You may take note of the topics discussed during lectures and topics that your professor mentioned for you to review on your own. Create your checklist to make sure that every concept will be reviewed.

Know your learning style.

Every student has a different learning style. Identify the learning style that works best for you. Include images, pictures, and other visual aids in your study guides if you are a visual learner. Listen to the lectures of your professor and take notes while listening if you are an auditory learner. Do some light exercise while you read your notes and move your hands by scribbling or drawing if you are a kinesthetic learner. Some students are both visual and auditory. Some students are both auditory and kinesthetic. Some students may be a mix of those three because they can learn on all learning styles. Personalize your study guide to be specific to your learning preferences. You may include your study schedule as some students prefer a specific learning style at specific times of the day.

Use visual study aids.

Graphic organizers such as mind maps, flow charts, tables, and diagrams can help to visually organize information and make it easier to understand and remember. This may be the best tip for learners who learn best using graphics and images but every student should know how visual study aids helps to organize complex text information and apply the information learned. Visual study aids also help students to think critically while processing the information in their mind.

Mind maps are usually designed to specify a general topic or idea. The main idea should be place at the center as other supporting ideas branch out. If you have numerous complex topics or concepts, it may take a lot of time for you to specify the information to the last detail. Mind maps are great to use when you are brainstorming a broad idea, creating broad word associations, and connecting information with other related concepts. When reviewing, you can use mind maps to review the definitions of the topic to easily remember keywords and important phrases.

Flow charts are helpful when you want to visualize the steps or sequence of a process. You can organize the information in chronological order to help you understand the concept. Flowcharts are useful when you are trying to understand the methodology in an experiment.

Tables are the best organizers of information. In a single glance, your notes will look organized and comprehensive. You can use a table to simplify a complex topic and categorize them in columns and rows. Trends and patterns can also be presented in a text table to visualize the data and make the information more readable.

Bar graphs are one of the graphical representations of information. These are usually presented as figures in research articles but you can use bar graphs to better understand difficult concepts. If you learn better at looking at graphs, try to use bar graphs to compare categories of data, concepts, or ideas. You can observe how the data changes over time and you can use your observation to explain the concept or topic that the graph wants to present.

These graphic organizers is important because these visual representations simplify the complex information that can be found in text.

Break down complex ideas.

Use graphic organizers to break down complex ideas into smaller, more manageable pieces. Breaking down the complex topics can help to make the information easier to understand and retain. Before you break down the complex information, skim the material first to get an overview of the content. Then, you need to condense the information into tables, flowcharts, and diagrams as students can focus on few pieces of information at a time. Review the information over and over everyday. The brain will more likely remember the most important information that you review regularly.

List terms and definitions.

Use graphic organizers to list important terms and their definitions. Create a vocabulary list of important terms. Include the definitions to ensure that key terms are fully understood and remembered. You can group the terms according to the topic so, you can easily associate the terms to the concept or you can list the terms in alphabetical order so you can go back and easily find the term you need on the list.

Connect key points and ideas.

Use arrows, lines, and other visual cues to show how different ideas and concepts are connected. Connecting ideas to related ideas can help to provide a deeper understanding of the material. You should only write the key points as you only need to remember the summary of the concept. Keep the ideas concise and straightforward not just for you to easily remember more ideas but to help you understand the relationship of the ideas to the main topic.

Include examples of concepts.

Use graphic organizers to provide examples of key concepts. Abstract concepts are challenging to imagine but examples can help to illustrate the material to make concepts more concrete as you visualize the concept being applied into real life scenarios. Real-life examples about the current events can help students to relate with situation and analyze the concept. The context of the concept is also explained when you use examples.

Use color and imagery.

Use color and imagery to make the study guide more appealing and memorable. Highlighters may help to make the material more enjoyable to study but for some students, the colors of the highlighters may be a bit overwhelming. It is better to use two highlighters that will only highlight the concept and the main points of the topic. If you are one of those students who is not a fan of highlighters at all, you may use imagery to understand the topic. Create vivid images that you can use to illustrate the concept.

Revise on your own.

Make revisions or paraphrase as needed. Not everything in the textbook should be copied exactly word by word when you make your own notes. By revising the information from the textbook using your own language and creating brief sentences, you are more likely to remember what you are saying and writing. Replace complex terms with more straightforward ones, omit some redundant and unnecessary information, and reorganize the informational structure of the paragraph. To make sure that you understand the concept, you can explain the concept using simple terms and record what you have learned.

Review every day.

Once the study guide is complete, review it everyday to reinforce the material and ensure that it is fully understood and retained. You can use your study hours to review intensively or use your free time to skim your visual study guides and graphic organizers.

Article Summary

It is crucial to use visual aids when studying because they improve learning engagement, information retention, and the ability to understand complex material. Visual aids are useful tools for teaching concepts, ideas, and topics to students. By breaking down the challenging concept into manageable and easy-to-digest information, you can easily recall and retain the concept as you go through your study session. You can list key terms and definitions, make revision notes and include real-life examples to your notes, connect key points and ideas, and adding colors to brighten your notes. Images and graphic organizers are also needed because these visual representations simplify the complex information that can be found in text. Knowing how visual aids can be utilized for studying will increase the effectiveness and efficiency of learning and can enhance the general performance of students. Therefore, using visual aids while studying is crucial for students who want to succeed academically.

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