Previously, on the Clickademics blog, I wrote about my favorite tip for studying before exams. It involves the student eating Orange Tic Tacs while studying and then again during the exam. That way the smell of the candy will remind the student of the time studying and increase recall.
I do believe that the sense of smell is linked with memory. After posting my original article, I even had another former student comment that one of his professors cited a study that proved a similar point. However, if Orange Tic Tacs do, in fact, increase student test grades, I think it has more to do with the fact that the student believes it will work.
If I tell a student that strategically eating Orange Tic Tacs will lead to higher test grades, two other variable are at play.
- If the student has to eat Orange Tic Tacs while studying for the trick to work, then the student has to actually sit and study. The student will probably spend more time studying for the test than if she had not been told about the trick. She has a reason to sit in front of her notes and text book and focus.
- The student knows that I, as her teacher, believe that she can do well on the test. I think that this is the most important factor. Every student needs to know he or she can succeed, and knowing that their parents and teachers believe in them helps considerably.
Positive attitude matters. Ask any doctor or nurse; patients that believe they can get better do get better. The mind has tremendous effect on the body. I remember when I was coaching my son’s basketball team, one of his friends was nervous because he was going to be playing against us on Saturday. I told him that if he spent ten minutes Friday night picturing himself shooting baskets, he would score more baskets in the game. Sure enough, he played great, and he later told me that he scored more than he had in any other game. If his positive outlook can improve his free-throws, doesn’t it make even more sense that my student’s positive feelings about studying would improve her recall?
My point is that students are more likely to believe that they can succeed when their teachers believe they can succeed. So whether a student does well on a test because of a candy or because she believes she can, it is vital that teachers encourage their students. Don't want a room full of candy? Lucky pencils, encouraging notes, and pre-test pep-talks also work wonders.