Choke Points and Pitfalls in Studying

The following is a review of a recent article written by Dr. Stephen Chew:

Chew, S. L. (2021, June 17). An Advance Organizer for Student Learning: Choke Points and Pitfalls in Studying. Canadian Psychology/Psychologie canadienne. Advance online publication. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/cap0000290

In this video, Dr. Chew provides a deeper explanation of the choke points and pitfalls in learning/studying. Big thanks to Umes Shrestha for bringing this video to my attention.


As a high school teacher who strives to use evidence-based practices, I find myself constantly searching for relevant research that is easily translatable to the classroom and may lead to more efficient and effective instruction and learning. It is a somewhat rare feat to stumble across these unicorns; especially in the form of journal articles. Often times, articles are either too technical to be understood by most classroom teachers and/or the research is so detached from classroom practice that it is of no practical use.

Well, I very recently found a majestic unicorn in the wild. Dr. Chew, professor of psychology at Samford University, composed a wonderfully insightful and usable article providing an advanced organizer discussing common choke points and pitfalls in studying. I can see this article and the advanced organizer (below) as incredibly useful for all educators and students.

In brief, there are certain choke points (a limitation or constraint in the cognitive system that students must cope with in order to learn) and pitfalls (a common error students make when studying) that hinder learning and studying.

What I love about the advanced organizer is how it illustrates where/when these choke points and pitfalls impact learning within an information processing model of memory. This allows teachers and students to predict and anticipate when these hindrances to learning may occur, creating healthier habits of study.

Within the article, each choke point and pitfall is briefly discussed (around a few paragraphs each). Also provided are possible solutions to assist teachers and students with cultivating more efficient and effective methods of study.


If you are a teacher, you need to read this and apply its principles to your classroom. What possible choke points and pitfalls can you account for in the learning environment you provide? How can you use this article in your classroom to better instruction/review? How can you use it to discuss healthier study habits with your students? And, this article would be fantastic for a collaborative study of sorts among teachers. Each choke points and pitfalls can easily be expanded upon for a deeper dive into research.

If you are a student, you need to read this and apply its principles to your studying. No one wants to waste their time while studying. You may feel that you do that sometime. Are you considering all the choke points and pitfalls in your studying? How can you better your environment for learning?

If you are a researcher, this is the type of article practitioners in the classroom need. Please note Dr. Chew’s style of writing and attempt to mimic. This is so accessible for teachers and students. Gone is most of the jargon of research method that teachers don’t necessarily need. If you’re looking for willing partners in education to assist in research studies or want your work to more directly impact learners, this is the way to do it.


Personally, I am pondering how I can best use this in my class with students and disseminate this information to teachers (tip of the hat to WordPress and Twitter). It is just too accessible, useful, and important to discard as ‘just another article’.

How can you use this article with students and teachers in your network(s)?


In addition to my take on Dr. Chew’s article, Rob McEntarffer wrote this article: The World’s Best 24 Minute Video for Teachers and Administrators. Check it out.


Photo by mark glancy from Pexels

6 thoughts on “Choke Points and Pitfalls in Studying

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  1. I plan to have my PG Certificate in Teaching in HE participants read the article for a seminar session and come prepared to share when they’ve either experienced the choke points and pitfalls themselves or observed them in their own students. Then we will brainstorm ideas for how we can help our students to overcome these obstacles.

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