How Should I Study?

Everyone knows that studying is an important part of academic success. Not all study methods yield equal benefits, though. So, what study techniques should IOAPA students employ to get the most bang for their academic buck? This article from Scientific American Mind reviewed the literature, and we’ll sum it up here.

The Top Two

  1. Self-testing: Practice tests helped improve learning across subjects, and retention lasts longer than other study methods. It works even if the format of the practice test differs from the real one.
  2. Distributed practice: In other words, don’t cram! Research suggests that spreading your study sessions out over time is more beneficial. Tell your IOAPA students — don’t put off your studying for finals or the AP Exam until days or weeks before. Avoid the tendency to procrastinate!

What else works?

Three other techniques were found to be useful, but less robust: elaborative interrogation, self-explanation, and interleaved practice. These methods may be less varied in their applications and/or less practical to employ, but still yield benefits for students.

What doesn’t work?

Five techniques under analysis were found to be of low overall utility: summarization, highlighting, keyword mnemonics, imagery use, and rereading. Research demonstrated that these methods were only effective for individuals with certain prerequisite skills, for certain content areas or task demands, or that they were generally ineffective.  For example, summarizing can be useful for older students (undergraduates, mostly) or students who have been trained how to effectively summarize, but does not yield positive results for students who lack those skills. Highlighting/underlining, on the other hand, yielded few benefits beyond those of simply reading.

The findings presented in this summary and in the article linked above come from the following study: Dunlosky, J., Rawson, K. A., Marsh, E. J., Nathan, M. J., and Willingham, D. T. (2013). Improving students’ learning with effective learning techniques: Promising directions from cognitive and educational psychology. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 14(1), 4-58.

Another discussion of this article was shared by one of the authors here.

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Summer Opportunity for Talented Iowa 7th/8th Graders

BSIWe are still accepting nominations for the Blank Summer Institute (BSI)!  BSI is our most selective middle school program, and it’s a great time for talented students to do a deep dive into their favorite subject and connect with peers with similar interests.  Eight exciting classes await your very best and brightest 7th and 8th graders this summer:

  • Math Problem Solving
  • Advanced Science
  • Social Studies
  • Global & Cultural Studies
  • Invention & Innovation
  • Creative Writing
  • Performing Arts
  • Visual Arts

The deadline for completed applications is February 17…so please get the ball rolling for your students as soon as you can! BSI students must be Iowa students and they must be nominated by their school.  Nominating students is easy!  Visit the BSI page and click on the “Nominate a Student” tab.

How to Identify and Serve High-Ability Hispanic/Latino Students

The Belin-Blank Center is pleased to offer a spring Webinar this year featuring Dr. Jaime Castellano and an exploration about identifying and serving gifted Latino students.  With diversity steadily increasing in our schools, this Webinar will give you greater confidence in serving ALL your high-ability students!

Identifying and Serving Gifted, Advanced, and High-Ability Hispanic/Latino Students: Moving the Cause Forward

February 2, 2017 4:30 – 6:00 p.m.

Dr. Castellano will focus on identifying and serving this unique, intra-ethnically diverse group of students. Implications, recommendations, and practices for learning, teaching, and leading will be shared. When programs, services, and advocacy are part of a dynamic infrastructure designed to meet the needs of our best and brightest Hispanic/Latino students, opportunities for experiencing success know no boundaries.

Learn more and register.


Participants register ONE computer for the webinar, allowing multiple participants to access the session.  A school can register and show to a room filled with staff, for example.  If the date or time isn’t convenient, participants may choose the DVD option.

Cost: $45 for registration for either the Webinar or the DVD; $55 for registration for BOTH the Webinar and the DVD.

For those registered in a Belin-Blank Center class, the registration is discounted (choose that option on the Registration site).

Dr. Castellano will teach RCE:4124:0WKA Ethnic and Cultural Issues & Giftedness to expand on the content in the Webinar; the class begins on February 9 and continues through March 1.  Those enrolled in the class must have access to the Webinar, either by registering their own computer or by participating through a school, AEA, or colleague’s registration.  Prospective students must be registered as University of Iowa Division of Continuing Education students; you can find more information here.

APTTI Registration Opening January 30

While the snowflakes are flying in Iowa City, think warm thoughts and start making plans to attend this year’s AP Teacher Training Institute (APTTI)! Registration opens Monday, January 30. The institute runs from June 27th to 30th on the University of Iowa campus. This year, we are offering workshops in AP Biology, AP Calculus AB, AP Chemistry, AP Computer Science A, AP English Language & Composition, AP English Literature & Composition, AP Physics 1, and AP US History. (If there’s a course you’d like to see us offer in the future, send the course name to Katie Schabilion at katherine-schabilion@uiowa.edu and we’ll consider adding it in future years.)

Who says teachers can’t have fun, too? Last year’s APTTI included social media giveaways, Twitter competition between science workshops, and a whole lot of learning. Who knows what might happen in 2017!

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Financial assistance is available through IOAPA and through the College Board. College Board scholarship application materials must be submitted by February 15, so don’t wait too long! For more on funding opportunities, visit our website.

To learn more about our workshops, instructors, and schedule, and to register for APTTI 2017, visit www.belinblank.org/aptti. We’d love to see you there!

IOAPA Spring Dates and Deadlines

Welcome back to another semester of IOAPA! As we all get settled back in for the semester, we wanted to share some important dates and deadlines relevant to IOAPA students and teachers.

  • January 27, 2017: Last day to drop IOAPA courses without a fee.
  • January 31, 2017: Last day to add online/distance learning courses (including IOAPA courses) to your school’s Course Audit.
  • February 17, 2017: Last day to submit disability documentation for students with disabilities seeking accommodations for AP Exams. See this recent post for more on that process.
  • Mid-Spring: Registration for AP Exam Review through IOAPA opens. See our website for more information on available courses and registration.
  • April 14, 2017: Last day to order AP Exams.
  • May 1-15, 2017: AP Exams occur. See the AP Exam Dates page for specific information about your courses.
  • May 6, 2017: IOAPA spring courses end.

Stay tuned for more information about AP Exams, including study strategies and our AP Exam Reviews (available to all Iowa students taking AP courses). o-calendar-facebook

Services at the ACC: Consultation

We get a variety of questions about what our Assessment and Counseling Clinic does and how to know if a particular service is right for a given child.  This week, we’re focusing on the services the Clinic provides, the people who provide them, and how to know if your child could benefit.  Today, we’re focusing on consultations.

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Dr. Alissa Doobay, Supervisor of Psychological Services

We’ve discussed a variety of services available through the Clinic this week.  From individual therapy to social skills groups to assessment, there are a variety of ways to meet the emotional and psychological needs of high-ability and twice-exceptional students.

Sometimes, however, parents have a very specific question about a single issue, set of test scores, or prior evaluation.  This is where a consultation can be useful.

Joyce Goins, Staff Psychologist

Dr. Joyce Goins, Staff Psychologist

Drs. Alissa Doobay and Joyce Goins can provide a record review (analyzing existing test scores and records) or one-time appointment to discuss specific concern in these cases.

Could a consultation help your child?  You can request an appointment through our online intake form.

Services at the ACC: Educational Assessment

We get a variety of questions about what our Assessment and Counseling Clinic does and how to know if a particular service is right for a given child.  This week, we’re focusing on the services the Clinic provides, the people who provide them, and how to know if your child could benefit.  Today, we’re focusing on educational assessments.

Tracy Ksiazak, Postdoctoral Scholar

Dr. Tracy Ksiazak, Postdoctoral Scholar

Individualized educational assessments are conducted to assist with academic planning.  They involve individual assessment of intellectual and academic skills, including above-level skills, as well as a screening of psychosocial factors that may be relevant in academic planning decisions.  These assessments are not diagnostic in nature; therefore, they cannot be submitted to insurance for reimbursement.  Following the assessment, parents are provided with a comprehensive report detailing the test results and our recommendations. The cost depends on the number of hours spent, but a typical educational assessment includes approximately 6 hours of testing and costs $720.  Some initial reasons to consider an individualized educational assessment include:

  • You’re considering whole grade acceleration and would like to get the bulk of the information needed all at once.
  • The student is in 3rd grade or younger, and therefore too young for most other assessments.
  • The student has behavioral/cognitive factors that result in individualized assessment being more accurate than group-administered (e.g., 2e students who don’t “test” as well as expected based on knowledge).

We also offer twice-exceptional assessments, which include intellectual and academic testing in addition to a diagnostic assessment to determine whether the child meets criteria for a particular psychological diagnosis (e.g., Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, Specific Learning Disorder, anxiety or depression, etc.). These evaluations are conducted by a licensed psychologist and may be submitted to insurance depending on your insurance provider. There is a currently a waitlist for twice-exceptional assessments.

Could an educational assessment help your child?  You can request an appointment through our online intake form.