Oftentimes students rely on making checklists for educational purposes to make sure that they are accomplishing all the tasks that need to be completed. By providing a list of tasks or goals to be accomplished, checklists can help students plan and organize their work. Checklists can also help students keep track of their progress and ensure that they are completing all the necessary steps in a process.
While checklists are a simple but powerful tool that can help students in a variety of ways. There is also a potential for a catch when using checklists. For example, if a student relies too heavily on a checklist, they may become less able to think creatively or take initiative. Therefore, just like any other object or task at hand, everything comes with its share of advantages and disadvantages. This, perhaps, equally imply to checklists as well.
In this blog post, we will discuss the many avenues in which checklists can benefit a student and to what extent should be used. Read more below.
Checklists: What does the research suggest?
As a student, you are probably used to making checklists for things like packing for a trip or preparing for an exam. But what you may not realize is that checklists can actually be very helpful in other areas of your life, including your studies.
A study found that students who used checklists while studying for exams improved their grades in comparison to the ones who prepared for the exams without one. The result of the study demonstrated a significant difference between both the set of students, the one who performed well, and the other, which did not; this was when the first group received a generalized online checklist, and the latter did not. Using the checklist also helped students with timely submission of their assignments that directly lead to course satisfaction both for teachers and students.
Another study done by a duet of professors showed that, while tasks that have not been done distract us, just chalking out a plan and writing down what has to be done can free students from this anxiety. The pair also observed that people underperform on a task when they are unable to finish an activity that would usually precede it. However, when participants were allowed to make and note down concrete tasks to finish an activity, performance on the next task substantially improved. This implied that simply writing the tasks down made them more effective.
Unfinished tasks have explained the activation of affective rumination and interference while performing other unrelated tasks even as simple as reading. Formulating specific plans and checking them as when done eliminates this intrusion and interference effects further enabling students to focus on current tasks and perform them effectively.
Making checklists: When and why
Checklists can be an effective tool to check and recheck whether the student has completed all the tasks or not, it definitely has some proven advantages. Some of them are:
- Checklists are helpful for keeping track of assignments and due dates. By taking a few minutes at the beginning of each week to create a checklist of tasks, students can ensure that they don’t fall behind on their work.
- They can help with time management. By estimating the time needed to complete each task on the checklist, students can develop a better sense of how to pace themselves and use their time more efficiently.
- They can help you organize your thoughts and make sure that you do not forget any important tasks. It can also help you track your progress and see how far you have come.
- Checklists help with creativity as they allow students to master repetitive tasks and utilize their cognitive skills and energy more for creative activities.
- Checklists save time to a great extent. By following a checklist, students don’t have to keep wondering what they have to do next, what they should do next, or what they have to do even, to begin with. Since tasks are completed more quickly, productivity also increases.
- Lesser ambiguity helps in leaving fewer opportunities to make mistakes as a checklist facilitates clear and precise agendas.
Making the best out of it
As a student, it is hard to keep track of multiple subjects and their multiple assignments, tests, activities, and involvement in co-curricular activities as well as living a life outside of school can make students struggle to organize their tasks. Checklists help save time and have many effective uses and applications for which they can be used for the best possible outcomes. These are given below.
- As an Organizer or Planner: Checklists provide a blueprint for a project, or a working day and keep things organized by breaking down steps and tasks. It is a way of prioritizing tasks in a hierarchy that helps get work done efficiently.
- As a visual reminder: Scheduling everything in a checklist helps ensure that all tasks are done on time and deadlines are not missed. By being able to refer back to the checklist, the stress to remember each and every task which can be as small as taking a vitamin supplement or filling up the index of a math notebook is taken off and there is less load on memory.
- As Promoting Responsibility: The use of checklists is also a way of promoting self-advocacy amongst students as it makes them responsible for their own tasks. It makes children work their own way through their commitments and take control of their actions.
- A motivator and Reinforcer: Not only do checklists make students efficient and effective, but also motivate them as the feeling of checking off a task provides reinforcement and brings a sense of accomplishment to the student. This motivates the students to attain that feeling again and again by eventually completing most tasks on their checklists and feeling productive. Once students form a proper system to follow a checklist, it can also help to motivate the student, as they can see their progress and feel a sense of achievement as they tick off each task. Using a checklist can help to ease the pressure as the student knows that they have everything under control.
There are a few things to keep in mind when using checklists as a student.
- First, make sure that your checklist is realistic and achievable. If it is too long or has too many items, you will likely get overwhelmed and give up.
- Second, focus on quality over quantity. It is better to complete a few tasks well than to try to do too many things at once and end up doing them all poorly.
- Third, use your checklist as a guide, not a rulebook. It is important to be flexible and adjust your plans as needed.
The use of checklists has turned out to be quite helpful and productive for students as it helps them organize work, helps them track their progress for accomplishing a certain number of tasks, acts as a visual reminder for ensuring the completion of all necessary tasks, and even motivates students by reinforcing them with the feeling of accomplishment. The more tasks that are ticked off the list, the more likely students tend to stay on track.
Checklists lead to efficient and effective management of time and work and even create room for creativity. Their relevant use has high-yielding results, helping students to perform better by being a stress-free, clear way of facilitating tasks in a straightforward and definite manner.
- Cavanaugh, T. W., Lambkin, M. L., & Hu, H. H. (2012). USING A GENERALIZED CHECKLIST TO IMPROVE STUDENT ASSIGNMENT SUBMISSION TIMES IN AN ONLINE COURSE. Online Learning, 16(4). https://doi.org/10.24059/olj.v16i4.235
- Masicampo, E. J., & Baumeister, R. F. (2011, June 20). Consider It Done! Plan Making Can Eliminate the Cognitive Effects of Unfulfilled Goals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0024192
- Weiher GM, Varol YZ, Horz H. Being Tired or Having Much Left Undone: The Relationship Between Fatigue and Unfinished Tasks With Affective Rumination and Vitality in Beginning Teachers. Front Psychol. 2022 Jul 4;13:935775. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.935775. PMID: 35859817; PMCID: PMC9289606.
An engineer, Maths expert, Online Tutor and animal rights activist. In more than 5+ years of my online teaching experience, I closely worked with many students struggling with dyscalculia and dyslexia. With the years passing, I learned that not much effort being put into the awareness of this learning disorder. Students with dyscalculia often misunderstood for having just a simple math fear. This is still an underresearched and understudied subject. I am also the founder of Smartynote -‘The notepad app for dyslexia’,