The “Go Places” Study Strategy

Compiled by Kaveh Farrokh (Ph.D.), Counsellor & Learning Specialist at Langara College Counselling Department.


Perhaps one of the most remarkable finds in learning research overall has been the efficacy of very simple strategies for enhancing student success. One of these strategies as reported by Carey in 2010, pertains to what is commonly known as the “Go Places” study strategy. As noted by Corey [as cited by Simpson (2013, p.145) and Fleming (2013, p. 726)]:

“…In one classic 1978 experiment, psychologists found that college students who studied a list of 40 vocabulary words in two rooms – one windowless and cluttered, the other modern, with a view on a courtyard – did far better on a test that students who studies the words twice, in the same room. Later studies have confirmed the finding, for a variety of topics.”

Interestingly a common misconception amongst educators (and especially study skills courses) has been that students need to find a single and specific place (e.g. an isolated corner in the library, a study room, etc.) in order to study for indefinite amounts of time. As the above-cited research has demonstrated, this type of advice is not only incorrect but also counterproductive.

Put simply, the notion that one should study in the same spot for hours and hours is actually counterproductive with respect to academic success. Learners benefit by changing their study space instead of remaining in the same study area.

The choice of when to change one’s study area is of course individually determined, however, one good cue is to remain in the study area as long as one is having fun and being academically productive. When the studying becomes less and less productive, that will often be a cue for taking a study break, and to possibly look for a new and different study area.


Fleming, L.E. (2013). Reading for Results. Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Simpson, O. (2013). Supporting Students for Success in Online and Distance Education. New York & London: Routledge

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