Overcoming Learning Difficulties

Learning difficulties can stem from many causes. These include lack of preparation, lack of effective study skills, learning disabilities, disorganization, or misplaced priorities. They can also include lack of motivation, procrastination, inability to concentrate due to stress, and many other causes. One of the first steps in overcoming learning difficulties is to understand the causes underlying the problem. Taking the Pathways to Success Student Assessment can help you begin to identify the obstacles to your success.

If you are having difficulty understanding the content of a course, a good first step is to meet with your instructor to see if they can help you. Instructors have office hours for this purpose, and if you are unable to meet with them at the posted time, they may be able to set another time for you. Another good step is to visit The Learning Center in Room 4117, Schermer Instructional Building to work with a student tutor or the professional writing tutor.

Many students have difficulty passing tests when they feel that they’ve mastered the material but cannot remember it during the test. This can occur when you haven’t moved the information from your short-term memory to your long-term memory. Studies have shown that this is best done through a combination of repetition and recall, activities that make you retrieve the information rather than simply repeatedly reading it. For suggestions on how to do this, see our handout on memory .

Some students genuinely know that material but are unable to access it due to test anxiety. For help with overcoming this condition, listen to Overcoming Test Anxiety. The counselors in the Student Support Center also work with many students on resolving this condition.

Sometimes a lack of academic success can be the result of procrastination. If you are an excessive procrastinator, a good first step is to ask yourself what underlies this habit. Do you feel such a need to do the assignment perfectly that you are unable to get started? Do you feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task? Do you feel forced to do the task and therefore resentful? When you think of doing the task, do you visualize deprivation? A counselor at the Student Support Center can help you sort out the reasons for procrastination and make a plan for addressing them.