KBCP Framework: A Better Way to Learn Study Skills

Nov 3, 2022 

Gregory has an AP Bio test on Friday. He wants to do well, so he considers planning out some study time throughout the week and creating some mnemonic devices to remember the process of photosynthesis, but he just ends up rereading his notes the night before. It doesn’t work. Despite devoting a few hours to studying, Gregory only manages to score a B+ on the test. 

Students like Gregory have probably heard about study skills off and on throughout elementary and middle school. Maybe they even practiced them in class or used them a few times if a teacher or parent demanded it. In the end, though, they fall back on what they’re used to. The KBCP Framework, a method of teaching study skills proposed by Mark McDaniels and Gilles Einstein, aims to break that pattern. Keep reading to learn more about the KBCP Framework, including what it is, how to use it, and why it’s more effective than traditional study skills.

What is the KBCP Framework?

Recent research on the effectiveness of teaching study skills suggests that giving students information about study skills is not enough to improve outcomes. In order for study skills to work, students have to believe they work and to commit to using them. Otherwise, as a recent survey of middle and high school students revealed, students will end up choosing rereading as their primary study strategy. The KBCP Framework doesn’t just teach study skills, it gives students a reason to use them and a plan to make them part of their study plans. 

How do I teach the KBCP Framework?

One of the things that stands out about the KBCP Framework is that it can be customized to fit your needs. Andrew Watson from Learning & the Brain, an organization that helps educators improve instruction by applying evidence-based practices, explains how the KBCP Framework isn’t “a to-do list—a set of instructions to follow.” What the KBCP Framework offers instead is guidance that teachers (or anyone else who wants to improve their study skills) can adapt to meet students’ unique needs whether they are fourth graders or college freshmen. 

So, to teach the KBCP Framework, all you need to do is work your way through each component:

  • Knowledge: Describe a strategy to students, explain why it’s effective, and show them how to apply it. At this stage, students can use the strategy and understand how it works, but probably won’t use it on their own because they don’t think it will work for them.
  • Belief: Encourage students to believe the skill will work for them by conducting a “participatory demonstration” in which students experiment with using a familiar strategy and the new one in order to experience and appreciate for themselves how the new strategy is better. Reflection is a big part of this step, so make sure you debrief with students to discuss their results.
  • Commitment: At this point, students understand the strategy and believe it will work for them, but it’s still not enough to motivate them to give up old habits. This step is perhaps the most challenging one because you have to help students reflect on how using the strategy will pay off and help them achieve their goals. Students should ultimately commit to using the strategy in a new context (e.g. another class, to complete a separate task).
  • Planning: Students who have committed to a new strategy need to channel their newfound motivation and put a plan in place to use the strategy independently. A good plan should establish how the strategy will be used, when it will be used, and why it will be used. Reflection is important here, too. 

So, let’s think about how the KBCP Framework could help Gregory the next time he has to take a test. Instead of rereading his AP Bio notes, we could suggest Gregory try concept maps, an alternative to writing an outline that represents information graphically, to rehearse test topics. See example below:

First, we need to define a concept map and demonstrate how to make one using an example. We’ll work together to create a photosynthesis concept map and use it to explain how it works: you remember details better when you chunk information and make connections. Now, it’s time to experiment. Gregory should try studying using rereading and concept mapping. After he’s tried both strategies, discuss or reflect on the results. By now, Gregory should see the benefits of concept mapping for himself, so help him to plan when and how to use it in the future (e.g. “I’m going to make at least one concept map to help me study for each AP Bio test this term.”). Check in with Gregory to see if concept mapping has made a difference.

Next Steps

At this point, you’re probably wondering how you can actually start putting the KBCP Framework into practice. One thing you can do is seek out support from services like A+ Test Prep and Tutoring where we not only keep up with new developments like the KBCP Framework, but we also put them into practice. For example, our Executive Function Coaching Program is structured around the idea that students who are struggling with executive function skills, such as organization and attention, benefit from a comprehensive approach that utilizes the stages of change. We help students establish goals, commit to a plan to achieve them, and regularly monitor progress towards those goals, including addressing any potential internal or external obstacles. You can also tell people about the KBCP Framework. Talk to a teacher, counselor, or administrator about integrating the framework into the school curriculum or introducing it as a workshop for teachers, parents, or students. The simplest thing you can do, however, is try it for yourself: choose a study skill to learn more about, try it out, commit to using it if you like it, and come up with a plan to make it part of your life. 

At A+ Test Prep and Tutoring, our practices are based on the latest developments in educational theory and research. We have an excellent team of tutors who can help you with standardized testing, executive functioning, or achievement in any other school subject. If you want to find out more about our services, our Client Service Directors Joelle Faucette and Michelle Giagnacovo can be reached at 215-886-9188 or email us at office@aplustutoring.com.


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