Fiona McPherson, PhD

A collection of articles and research reports on study skills from the author's websites, arranged and edited for greater cohesiveness.

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Academic success is rooted in a number of factors, of which 'intelligence' is only one. Attitude and beliefs, and knowledgeable strategy use, are critical. This is the core message of this collection of articles and research reports on study skills from the author's websites, arranged and edited for greater cohesiveness. Its aim is to describe and provide evidence for concepts and strategies that may change your approach to teaching or studying.

The book contains articles on:

  • personal factors that affect academic achievement: motivation, persistence, anxiety, intelligence, self-regulation
  • choosing strategies that are effective for the situation
  • what 'transfer' is and why it's important
  • how experts develop expertise
  • the idea of 'desirable difficulties'
  • the limits of memorization and rote learning
  • some useful strategies in:
    • reading
    • note-taking
    • reaching understanding.

This book is for students who are serious about being successful in study, and teachers who want to know how best to help their students learn.

As always with the Mempowered books, the short book is fully referenced.




Publication date: May, 2015

File size: 1.8 Mb (ePub, pdf) / 3.5 Mb (mobi) / 90 pages


978-1-927166-30-7 (pdf)

978-1-927166-28-4 (ePub)

978-1-927166-29-1 (mobi)




How to approach your teaching or learning

What you need for successful learning

Intelligence isn’t as important as you think

What is intelligence?

Working memory and intelligence

The importance of cognitive control for intelligence

Brain flexibility predicts learning speed

The role of motivation on academic performance

Motivation, study habits—not IQ—determine growth in math achievement

How expectations affect exam scores

Seeing exemplary peer work can undermine student performance

Short online ‘pep talks’ can boost students

Effect of motivation on IQ score

Those less motivated to achieve will excel on tasks seen as fun


Stereotype threat is a potential factor for gender, ethnicity, and age

Group settings hurt expressions of intelligence, especially in women

Working memory capacity affects emotional regulation

The effect of stress on performance depends on individual and situational factors

Easy solution for test anxiety

Letters A and F affect test scores


Regulating your study time and effort

Maybe persistence has nothing to do with self-control


Media multitasking and academic achievement

Interruptions impact the quality of creative work

Each hour of screen time linked to poorer grades

Digital media may be changing how you think

Choosing your strategies


Using strategies effectively

Assessing strategy

Successful Transfer

Preventing interference between topics or skills

Context & the conditionalization of knowledge

About expert knowledge

Desirable difficulty for effective learning

Using hard to read fonts may help you remember more

Should learning facts by rote be central to education?

Photographic memory

Strategies for successful study


Working memory, expertise & retrieval structures

Understanding scientific text

Novices' problems with scientific text

Identifying text structures

Why good readers might have reading comprehension difficulties and how to deal with them

Speed Reading

Effects of diagram orientation on comprehension


Notetaking examples

Outlines and Graphic organizers

Concept maps

Visual language

Students fail to connect without explicit instruction

Better learning through handwriting

Drawing best encoding strategy

Reaching Understanding

Elaborating the information for better remembering

Asking better questions

Metacognitive questioning and the use of worked examples

Final Remarks