This post was written by Megan LaManna.

Proper posture is something adults try to teach children when they’re younger. But after they enter college and start cramming for an exam, proper posture evolves into study postures.

Study Posture No. 1 is the most intense. It appears when a student is hunched over a book, elbow resting on the table, the head supported by the hand. Eyes are glazed from studying and the hand cradles the forehead, looking as if, were the hand to release the head, it could explode with information overload.

Displaying this exact posture, a student in front of me in a blue beanie keeps chewing the end of his pen. There are papers scattered in front of him, a textbook, a water bottle and an open laptop. Confident his head won’t explode he takes his hand away, leans his chair back and sighs. He stares off into space, looks around the room and a few seconds later he’s back to reading. It seems to be a high stress study session.

Study Posture No. 2 is the moderately intense study posture. This happens when a student has both arms on the table and is hunched over whatever he or she is doing. My tablemate is in this mode. From left to right he has a three-inch binder filled with green graphing paper, a graphing calculator, a laptop and a loose-leaf sheet of paper in front of him. He writes with his left hand and searches the Internet with his right. He has headphones in to block out any noise. His stress level seems lower but his concentration suggests he’s deeper in the zone.

Study Posture No. 3 is the least intense. A student in a green jacket slouches in his seat with a book propped up against the edge of the table. Hunched closely to what he is reading, his arms are crossed and his head is bowed forward, in no particular danger of exploding. He nonchalantly leafs through his book and doesn’t wear headphones to cancel the noise.

Apparently he doesn’t need them, because when a newcomer enters the room and begins to unzip every pocket of his backpack, Green Jacket doesn’t even look up. His study session has a seemingly lower stress level than either No. 1 or 2. He also doesn’t seem to be as deeply into the zone because he’s only focusing on one thing at a time.

Everyone studies differently and everyone studies the same. Maybe study postures reveal the learning goal. Is it just to pass a class? To make the Dean’s List? Because the information is critical to a future career? Observing how students study is easy, but maybe it’s more important to know why. They might be the one helping you someday.

(Photo on the homepage: Missourian file photo)

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