More On How To Use Facebook To Talk About (And Remember!) What You’re Studying

Posted by on Sep 13, 2012 in General, General College Success/Responses to Other College Entities | 9 comments

After your Facebook updates about what you are studying, check out what your brain will look like. Talk about “total recall”!

(As I prepare to return to my full-time teaching post next week after a year away, my blogging may be a little choppy over the next month. My treasured audience, please know that I am dedicated to you and to this blog. Please be patient with me as I find my new normal–yet again! Quick reminder that if you are in the Seattle area, come on down and visit with me at the UW Bookstore on September 18, 7 p.m. Now, on to some more Facebook study tips!)

Back in April, I blogged about how to use Facebook with your #1 study tool:  Your mouth.

In that post, I discussed that the more you can talk about what you are working on, the better the chances you will retain and connect to that information. I linked that idea to Facebook because I figured that most college students use it anyway.

Well, in the meantime, I’ve come across two articles about increasing your memory and I have some more ideas to adapt for you!

This article from Kansas State University discusses that our lack of memory may stem from lack of interest. This article from Business Insider talks about how to pick a password that you’ll actually remember (choose it quickly!). There are other tips in the piece about increasing memory which I’ll tackle in a second.

In my April tips, I made this suggestion:

During your study time, post status updates about what you’re actually working on.

Let’s dissect that thought in line with the recommendations from these articles:

-Express your interest. Want to have an even better shot at remembering what you’re studying? When you post that status update and talk about Western Civilization or Interpersonal Communication, discuss why you are into what you’re learning i.e., “I was really surprised and intrigued to learn about fundamental attribution theory in my interpersonal course. Here’s what it means…” Even if you have to fake it ’til you make it–seriously–figure out some way to connect to the material for your brain’s sake.

-Tap out the updates; don’t overthink them. One of the articles says that when we do a task quickly, rather than belabor it, we actually make a quicker brain-based connection to the task and are more likely to remember what we did. Weird, isn’t it? I thought it would be the other way around. I’m going to take that suggestion a little further because I still want you in Caine and Caine’s process of “immersion” that I referred to in the prevous blog post. So, do this:

  • Read the passage in your text or your notes and highlight it (if you are a highlighting type; maybe you’d prefer sticky notes);
  • Write a margin note in the text (not if you want to re-sell the book) or a note in your notebook about some way that you connect to that material; paraphrase it in your own words, even just simply rewrite it. What you are doing here is physically doing something with that material–working it at another level for your brain to retain it. If you could stomach the thought, I would be happy if you could even read what you are writing out loud or whisper it to yourself (yet another level of brain-based learning).
  • Now go on Facebook and tap out your quick status update. I get that this is hardly “not overthinking” the process. I don’t want you to overthink the Facebook update process; I’m okay with you bending your mind a bit before that.

-Talk about where you are. I know, I know… you’re saying, “Ellen… literally? Or figuratively?” For this moment, I mean literally. The tips in the article say that if you can match location/context to what you are doing, you have a better idea of remembering. So, when you are in your Facebook study group or giving your update, which was one of the tips I previously offered, it’s okay to say, “I’m working in my living room right now on my green couch. Here’s a great mnemonic device I came up with…” Who knows? When you take your next test, you may envision the green couch and the brilliance you devised on it!

-Now talk about your feelings and then re-create those feelings during your exam. This is where the figurative part of “being where you are” comes in. One of the articles points out that “Events learned in one emotional state are best remembered when we are back in that state.” If this is the case, then it may sound really dorky (Is it dorky to say “dorky”? I can no longer be sure…) to ask you to say “I’m so happy to be analyzing early 19th century American conversations in my American Literature course!” Then, you need to recreate that feeling of happy during your actual exam!

Let’s be realistic: You don’t necessarily have to say that you are over the moon to study what you’re studying. You can find another quasi-positive adjective other than happy, but try not to conjure up a negative one because if you have to revisit a feeling, you want a good one during your exam, right?

A few of end-notes here:

-You don’t have to use Facebook for these suggestions. Of course, I’d be beside-myself-thrilled if you’d talk to people face-to-face about your studying, but I understand that this may not be practical or feasible. I know many college students are on Facebook, anyway, so I’m trying to give suggestions in line with something you’re already doing.

-You can use these tips with any other tool you’re using–Twitter or even texting.

-Feel silly trying these tips? Just tell people in advance that you are trying out some new ways of studying, incorporating social media. They won’t mind helping you and they can ignore your updates if they don’t like them. Like I said in my last post, some people update about far less important things. You’ll actually be teaching others something and looking so, so smart.

I’d love to hear about ways you are using Facebook or other tools to amp up your studying or for improved recall!

It’s a question that profs cringe over: Will that be on the test? In Say This, Not That to Your Professor, I not only have a chapter on better ways to talk about that question, but I even have a hidden gem that could help you find out what is on the test! Have you taken a look?



  1. Great post! Good luck this week!

    • Thank you! Back to school :-) .

  2. I am not a student but I still found this really valuable!

    • I really appreciate that!!!

      Thank you so much, Natalie :-) .

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