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Ability to study is a combination of several interconnected factors. Personal resources, good study skills, high-quality teaching and a supportive study environment have a significant impact on your study progress. Strengths in one or more areas may help to maintain your ability to study even if there are problems in other areas. It is about the balance between the different factors.

Study progress can be improved by addressing all aspects of the ability to study and the associated factors. This is not only your own responsibility, but all parties in the study environment should be involved too, including student healthcare, educational institutions and student organisations.

The model for study ability shown below will promote cooperation between different parties and improve ways of supporting and improving students’ progress in their studies.

Model for study ability. This model for study ability shows the different factors influencing study ability and the interactions between them. The model is an aid to understanding the complexity of study problems and the role of different parties in promoting students’ well-being. (Kunttu 2005)

Study ability does not only depend on health factors

Personal resources

The majority of students feel they are healthy despite having a range of different symptoms. Depression, anxiety, difficulty concentrating and sleep disorders are the most common mental health problems. Mental health problems play a major role in impaired ability to study. Life management, believing in your capabilities and having supportive loved ones are important in promoting well-being and progress with studies.

Study skills

Study skills include finding your own study style, being self-aware and understanding your intellectual capacity and skills. Problem-solving skills and critical thinking are also needed. To progress with your studies, social skills are important – particularly giving presentations and taking part in discussions. Creating your own personal study plan and being clear about time management will help you with your studies. Technical and creative study skills include information retrieval and data processing skills, such as studying for an exam, creating presentations, taking lecture notes and using different sources of information.

Inadequate study skills directly impair not just your progress but also the perception of yourself as a learner. You may feel like your results do not reflect your hard work, and you may feel overwhelmed by the amount of work. When studying in higher education, you should examine your study skills and if necessary seek help from a study psychologist or other professional. Institutions of higher education may also arrange courses to help with different problem areas.

Teaching and counselling

Competent teaching and effective study counselling support students’ ability to study in educational institutions. Well-planned teaching arrangements can also motivate and stimulate students who are uncertain about their field of study. Students will benefit from good feedback arrangements and the opportunity to interact with teaching staff. This includes tutoring and integrating students into their study environment. Institutions of higher education also have many different tools to support students who need help with their ability to study. Special teaching arrangements and other available support vary from one educational institution to another.

Study environment

A sense of togetherness in the study environment, being part of social circles, and support for community spirit all promote students’ ability to study. The values and culture within an educational institution, such as traditions, customs and structures, also play a background role. However, studying independently and replacing face-to-face lessons with remote studies make it more challenging to build study communities.