What is Study Smart?

We know that many students struggle with studying effectively and getting the most out of their education. At the same time, we, as their educators, also struggle with busy schedules and packed classrooms. How can we support our students in studying more effectively? Study Smart was designed to solve exactly this problem.


As an evidence-informed training program, Study Smart is designed to support students in developing effective learning and study skills. Founded at Maastricht University in 2017, it has been developed by an interdisciplinary team of educators, educational scientists, study advisers, and students. Study Smart is based on scientific principles of effective learning and has been implemented and tested in a variety of contexts – ranging across different study programs, universities, and continents.

At its core, Study Smart consists of three trainings sessions:

The Awareness Session

Students are introduced to the principles of learning and effective studying. They reflect on these principles in the context of their existing study habits.

The Practice Session

Students get the chance to practice what they learned in theory with a number of different exercises, using their own learning materials. In this, they are supported by their teacher or tutor.

The Reflection Session

Students reflect on what they learned so far, challenges they encountered, and set goals about how they will implement what they learned in their daily learning more sustainably.

In this or adapted versions, Study Smart has been implemented by universities around the world, ranging from the Netherlands, to Portugal, the US, and Barbados. It has been rigorously tested through scientific research and even has a doctoral thesis dedicated to its name (see below).

If you are interested in learning more about Study Smart, check out the readings below, get to know our team, or directly get in contact with us via studysmart-edlab@maastrichtuniversity.nl.

Study Smart is Evidence Informed

Below, you can find an overview of the research that has been conducted on Study Smart…

An Overview of Study Smart

  • Biwer, F., & Bruin, A. B. H. (2023). Teaching students to ‘Study Smart’– A training program based on the science of learning. In C. E. Overson, C. M. Hakala, L. L. Kordonowy, & V. A. Benassi, In their own words: What scholars and teachers want you to know about why and how to apply the science of learning in your academic setting(pp. 419–440). Society for the Teaching of Psychology. https://teachpsych.org/ebooks/itow

Doctoral Thesis:

Research on Study Smart

  • Biwer, F., de Bruin, A. & Persky, A. Study smart – impact of a learning strategy training on students’ study behavior and academic performance. Advances in Health Sciences Education 28, 147–167 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10459-022-10149-z
  • Biwer, F., de Bruin, A. B., Schreurs, S., & oude Egbrink, M. G. (2020). Future steps in teaching desirably difficult learning strategies: Reflections from the Study Smart Program. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition9(4), 439-446.
  • Biwer, F., oude Egbrink, M. G., Aalten, P., & de Bruin, A. B. (2020). Fostering effective learning strategies in higher education–a mixed-methods study. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition9(2), 186-203.

Review of Study Smart and similar Training Programs

  • Carpenter, S.K. Encouraging Students to Use Retrieval Practice: a Review of Emerging Research from Five Types of Interventions. Educational Psychology Review 35, 96 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10648-023-09811-8