4 Reasons a Study Timer App Improves Student Retention

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A study timer app is exactly what it sounds like. Using a mobile app or stopwatch, the student sets a timer for a select period of time. For said period of time the student studies. When the timer goes off they take a break and then set the timer again and continue studying. And so on and so forth. This study technique has been popularized by Pomodoro, and rightly so. Using a study timer app to choose periods for studying and breaks increases a student’s capacity to retain information. This can make the study process less stressful. A student who succeeds academically is more likely to finish their program of study at your institution. A study timer app helps students by:

  • Creating order out of their busy coursework and study schedule,
  • Encouraging them to commit their focus fully to their task,
  • Allowing them to take breaks without feeling guilty,
  • and Producing better quality results from their studying and time spent on coursework.

1. Creates Order

Students take between 1 and 5 classes per semester. This means they have to divide their time between coursework and studying for up to five classes. Depending on their program of study, this can be a lot of work and many students will find it difficult to manage. By segregating tasks into specific time periods, students can:

  • Prevent one task from taking over their entire study time,
  • Give each task concentrated focus,
  • Plan out how to complete coursework and studying within the time they have and in time for deadlines.

Research shows that by breaking up work into periods with breaks between, it’s easier to maintain focus. This allows each task to be given the appropriate effort. When each task is contained within a designated time period it prevents one task from taking time away from another. It also allows for each task to be given complete attention and care. This helps ensure that the task is completed successfully.

2. Compels Commitment

It’s often difficult to stay on task when the task is something that isn’t enjoyable. Giving each task a specific amount of time makes it easier to commit to. If you know you only have to work on something for 30 minutes you are more likely to work on it for the entire time. If you were to work on a task for an undefined length of time, you're less likely to do work for a sufficient amount of time. The time allotment may not result in the task being finished. Yet, in containing the task to a time limit you are more likely to be productive. Furthermore, when the time is over, something will have been accomplished. This helps assuage guilt in taking breaks.

3. Allows for Guilt-Free Goofing Off

Taking breaks is crucial for attaining results. Research shows that when you take a break from a task you are better able to maintain focus. Maintaining concentration over long periods of time can make it harder to complete tasks successfully. Although the work period is longer, the work product is often of lesser quality than when done over shorter periods. The study timer app also gives a sense of freedom. Breaks are less stressful and easier to enjoy when you have evidence that you’ve worked hard and earned a break.

4. Produces Better Results

According to a 2011 study, when you take a break from a task you prevent the task from becoming a mindless habit. By taking periodic breaks from the task, your brain doesn't become too used to the task. In this way, you remain fresh and alert. This allows for the task to be completed with higher quality. Furthermore, the authors of this study discovered that losing focus is less about “exhaustion of attention,” and more about a loss of control over our thoughts. It’s difficult to keep your thoughts focused for a lengthy period of time. When your thoughts begin to drift away from the task at hand, the quality of the work is at risk. Which is why the best way to produce good work is by taking breaks.    

Boost Student Engagement

This post was written with the help of the following resources:

  • "Use a Timer as a Productivity Booster and Sanity Minder." Lifehacker. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Feb. 2016. <http://lifehacker.com/5638746/use-a-timer-as-a-productivity-booster-and-sanity-minder>.
  • Ariga, Atsunori, and Alejandro Lleras. "Brief and Rare Mental “breaks” Keep You Focused: Deactivation and Reactivation of Task Goals Preempt Vigilance Decrements." Cognition 118.3 (2011): 439-43. Elsevier. Web. <http://news.illinois.edu/WebsandThumbs/Lleras,Alejandro/Lleras_sdarticle-17.pdf>.


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