Learning to Learn

Many students enter post-secondary studies needing to develop the skills necessary to learn effectively.   The literature in this field is rooted in cognitive science, educational psychology, and student advising, among others. Teachers can assist students in acquiring these skills by embedding skill development in course activities, assessment, and learning outcomes.  The resources below contain information on how to integrate study skills and time management, as well as information on how to construct and organize these skills into your course design. 

Resources for Instructors

Using the ‘Top 20 Principles’

These psychological principles will help your students learn more effectively.
By Nancy Fenton, MA, American Psychological Association

The principles are organized into five areas of psychological functioning: cognition and learning; motivation; social and emotional dimensions; context and learning; and assessment.  Each of the individual principles listed in the document includes an explanation of the concept, its relevance for instruction, specific tips for teachers and a comprehensive list of related references.

Teaching Learning How to Learn Strategies

Developed by Learner Centered Teaching: Largest Resource for Learner Centered Teaching on the Web

Questions to Help Teachers Teach Learning How to Learn Strategies

Learning How to Learn

Students’ Pathway to Success: A Faculty Guide

This book intends to prepare faculty who teach students new to the university to help create a positive academic experience for both first-time students and students who transfer in.

Basic Skills, Making Connections, and Self-Direction

As teachers, we often cite that one of our most important course objectives is teaching our students to “learn how to learn” (Fink, 37). However, there are different kinds of goals we associate with learning how to learn: learning basic academic skills, learning to inquire and construct knowledge, and learning how to be a self-directed learner. In this chapter, we describe each of these distinct goals and offer a number of suggestions for accomplishing each of them.

The Increasing Importance of Learning How to Learn

Integrating Cognitive Science with Innovative Teaching in Stem Disciplines
Chapter 01: The Increasing Importance of Learning How to Learn

Robert A. Bjork and Veronica X. Yan

Increasingly, learning is happening outside of formal classroom instruction.  As a consequence, learners need to make multiple decisions, such as what to study, when to study, and how to study, and computer-based technologies offer multiple options and opportunities for how to manage one's own learning.  Knowing how to learn effectively has never been more important, not only during the years of schooling, but across one's lifetime-as careers change, new job skills are required, and hobbies and interests develop and change.  Recent research suggests, however, that we are often prone to both mis-assessing and mis-managing our own learning.  In this chapter we summarize the evidence that intuitions and standard practices are often unreliable guides to optimizing one's learning and that there exists the potential for learners and instructors alike to make self-regulated and teacher-regulated learning more efficient and effective.

Resources to Share with Students

Dalhousie's Career & Leadership Development Centre

With a student-centred approach, the Career & Leadership Development Centre strives to:

  • Acknowledge and support the extensive leadership and volunteer contributions students make to the community
  • Create, support, and encourage meaningful and diverse experiences that allow students to broaden and strengthen their personal and professional networks
  • Demonstrate innovative approaches to programs and service delivery in the areas of career advising, leadership development, experiential learning, and active citizenship
  • Leverage our networks and community connections and partnerships to provide rich and meaningful experiences for students
  • Offer up-to-date accessible information and resources

Career & Leadership Development Centre website

Dalhousie Writing Centre

Free services to help improve your writing skills

The Writing Centre offers support in all subjects—from academic assignments to dissertations—for undergraduate and graduate students. We meet with you one-on-one to discuss your work and we also offer events and seminars. We're not a proofreading or editing service—our goal is to teach you to write independently.

Writing Centre Website

Studying for Success


The Studying for Success program helps both undergraduates and graduates reach their academic potential and become more effective and efficient learners!

General information

Workshops: offered in small groups and are about 1 hour long. FREE of charge! Include topics such as time management, writing exams, taking notes, and critical reading. 

Individual sessions with a Study Coach: coaches are graduate students in various academic fields. One-on-One sessions are tailored to meet your needs and focus on building your learning skills. Office hours are posted on our website. Coaching sessions are FREE as well! 

Tutoring: If you are looking for assistance in understanding specific course content and assignments, or preparing for tests and exams, our tutors are able to help. We can match you to an appropriate tutor in your field of study, at an additional coast. 

Studying for Success website

Effective Learning Skills

These “power tool” ideas for studying really work, and your improved learning skills will help you immediately and will continue paying dividends for a long time.

Effective Learning Skills (memory, concentration, reading & listening, exams, time use)
by Craig Rusbult, Ph.D.

A Guide to University Learning

The Learning How to Study website provides tips  and stragegies on the following topics to enhance student studying:

  • Student Guide
  • Review Material Regularly
  • Identify Exam Specifics
  • Organize & Integrate Resources
  • Plan Your Time
  • Study Actively
  • Study Groups
  • Tips for Recalling Content
  • Post-Exam Strategies
  • Studying Top Ten Takeaways
  • Practice Activity
  • Study Checklist

Tips for Students

Developed by the Centre for Teaching Excellence at the University of Waterloo, the Tips for Students website provides an extensive collection of resources focusing on topics such as, self-directed learning, building your reading skills, online discussions, tips for students, and many more.


In The News!

Seven Characteristics of Good Learners

By: Maryellen Weimer, PhD
January 22, 2014
Faculty Focus