January 24, 2012
…Yup, here we go again. It’s the start of another semester. While the first round of tests may be four to five weeks away, waiting until the week of the exam to begin reading the text, reviewing notes from class, practicing problems, memorizing formulas, and just plain learning the material may prove to be too late for the majority of students.
It’s not always easy to recognize that you are in academic trouble. The first sign, for many students, is when they see an exam grade. One way to avoid that “shock” would be to continually monitor your learning in the weeks leading up to the exam. One way to do that would be to take the advice of a famous TV talk show host and ask yourself the following question: “How’s it working for you?” If you are not happy with your answer, then change or modify what you are currently doing. Waiting until the night before the exam to ask that question for the first time will, in all likelihood, be too late. If you don’t know how to change or modify what you are doing or you need help, then please ask your professors, academic advisors, and other professionals on campus. We are here to help.
I’m sure you’ve received lots of advice as to how to succeed in college. What follows is a list that was generated by your fellow students. Here is their advice to you:
- Attend class
- Get a calendar and plan out your study time
- Review your notes before and after class
- Read every night
- When you read: outline the chapter, write in the margins, and turn headings into questions
- Attend SI, tutoring, help desks, and instructor/TA led review sessions
- Organize a study group
- When you need clarification on a topic: talk to your professor
- Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help with personal matters
- The night before the exam is for reviewing and not for learning new material
- Get a good night’s sleep before an exam
- There is no such thing as over-learning or over-studying
- Exercise and watch what you eat
- Find the balance between academics and the “other education
The above is just a sampling of what these successful students advise, but hopefully will prove helpful to you in getting you to think about what you need to do in order to succeed this semester and beyond.
Today’s the day! So don’t wait another minute, it’s time to hit the ground running.
Adapted from: Hit the Ground Running, Aggie Mentor Newsletter, August/September 2005
August 19, 2011
Are you an owl, a lark, or a hummingbird? These birds are one of the ways some scientists categorize our natural sleep habits and knowing the answer to that question may be a very important component of learning success.
It has been proven in numerous scientific studies that lack of sleep can have a negative effect on the ability to learn, reason, and even to perform routine motor functions. In fact, most students have been given information about the dangers of “drowsy driving.” This blog post will hopefully give you some helpful information about the dangers of “drowsy learning.” A series of studies conducted by Buboltz, Brown, and Soper found that about 75% of college students report at least occasional sleep problems and that about 15% report more severe sleep deprivation. This is about twice the level of sleep deprivation found among the general population of adults. Continue reading…
April 29, 2011
Here on our campus, final exam week is almost upon us. The last day of classes is next Tuesday and final exams begin in just over a week. Many students, unfortunately, tend to go into a bit of a panic mode during finals. It can seem a little overwhelming. If you have multiple exams on one day coupled with final papers or projects due during finals week, it is easy to wait until the last minute and try to cram in study time for those last few exams. However, consider an alternate plan.
Many years ago, I came across a wonderful little jewel of a study strategy called the “5 Day Study Plan”. I’ve always credited Dianna Van Blerkom the author of several excellent student success textbooks for this plan. At least to my knowledge, it was while reading an early addition of her book, “Orientation to College Learning” that I first became aware of the 5 Day Study Plan. Since I first learned about this plan, I have shared it with literally hundreds of students enrolled in my STLC 101 class, students who participate in Academic Coaching, and any students who I think need help planning their study strategy for exams. Continue reading…
March 30, 2011
Don’t you love this time of year? Here in Texas, anyway, early spring (March-April) and late fall (October-November) are our best bets for having what we call “Chamber of Commerce” weather. Today is a great example. The day started out cool (low in the upper 40′s) and has warmed up nicely, but it’s definitely not hot. It’s like a summer day in the Rocky Mountains except there aren’t any mountains to look at. However, you can’t spoil my enjoyment of this day by reminding me we live in the flatlands.
So what does a good weather day have to do with a learning blog? It turns out that what I have known intuitively most of my life can now be backed up by some pretty good science. What I have known for a very long time is that being outdoors and enjoying nature helps me think better. Whether it is a walk in the woods, hiking up a mountain trail, or walking on the water’s edge of a beautiful beach, I have always found these kinds of settings to be incredibly relaxing and I seem to just think better. Continue reading…
February 24, 2011
A mnemonic or sometimes a mnemonic device is something we use to help us remember things. Even if you don’t know what a mnemonic is, you have most likely used many of them over the years. Songs, acrostics, and acronyms are common mnemonic devices. For example, you may have learned the colors in the light spectrum (or colors of the rainbow) using the acronym Roy G. Biv. Many people also learned the nine planets using this familiar acrostic sentence “my very educated mother just sent us nine pizzas”. If, as is now believed, Pluto isn’t actually a planet, then I guess mom will have to sent us “noodles”, “nuts”, or maybe “nothing.” The point is these little memory devices can be very helpful if you need to memorize a list of things or a concept that is rather random in nature. Continue reading…
February 10, 2011
I know you heard this taunt on the playground when you were a child… “Girls go to college to get more knowledge, but boys go to Jupiter to get more stupider.” I didn’t hear this until I was an adult, by the way. This particular little gem must not have been around in the late 60′s and early 70′s when I was in elementary school. My reaction when I first heard this was something like this… ”good for the girls, they all want to go to college” and then “hey, don’t those girls realize that Jupiter and stupider don’t rhyme?” and then “I have sons and this is offensive!” Continue reading…
February 9, 2011
If you pay attention to other students when you are walking across campus or look around you when you are in the library, you’ll no doubt notice that a large percentage of students are listening to iPods or other MP3 devices. I’m sure a few of them are dutifully listening to podcasts of classroom lectures or even audiobooks, but the vast majority are listening to music. Even those of us who would claim to be terrible singers and who may have never played an instrument more complex than a recorder in elementary school enjoy listening to music. Check out just about anyone’s iPhone or computer these days and you’re likely to find Pandora or some other application for listening to music. So, since music is obviously important to many of us and we spend a lot of time and money purchasing recorded music or experiencing live music, it can’t help but effect our brains, right? The definitive answer is “yes.” Music is an integral part of our thinking and shapes everything from memory formation to perception. Continue reading…
January 28, 2011
One of the most vital skills for college students to master is effective time management. In fact, if you have looked carefully at the SLC website (and I’m sure you have!), you may have come across something we call the Four Core Competencies. We have them listed for you on our SI page. The last one of the competencies is to “manage time devoted to academic study”. When we survey students, effective time management almost always shows up as one of the main concerns.
There has been an incredible amount written about time management and it would be impossible to summarize even a fraction of this information. However, I would like to highlight one aspect of effective time management that I came across many years ago that I believe can be a powerful tool for students. As far as I can tell, the credit for this concept goes to Steven Covey, the author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” One of Covey’s 7 Habits (Habit 3 in case you’re wondering), is “Put First Things First.” Continue reading…
January 20, 2011
With the new semester starting, this is a good time to get into some good habits including taking good notes. A few years ago, some of our SI supervisors created a form for the SI leaders to use in order to help them use their class notes to develop strategies for SI sessions. It dawned on me at the time, that the form they developed could be tweaked a bit for other students. This eventually led to a note taking system we dubbed “Aggie Notes.”
Over the past few years, I have had the opportunity to introduce this system to my students and many of them have used them successfully in their classes. There is really nothing magic about Aggie Notes, but it is a great way to prepare for class, take a good set of notes, and to develop a plan for learning the information from class. Here are the Aggie Notes Instructions in a PDF file that you can print out. If you decide to use this system, you may want to print out several copies of the “Before Class From” and the “After Class Form”. Continue reading…
January 13, 2011
Do you like fresh starts? I do. A new semester or a new year seem to always bring out my optimistic side. Everyone gets a fresh start. This time next week the spring semester will be underway here at Texas A&M. As an instructor I love a new semester because it is a chance to try something new and get to know a new group of students. As a student, I always loved the beginning of the semester because I could set new goals and at least for a few days I could have all A’s! Continue reading…