With the start of the semester upon us, students are beginning to stress about their course load and how to stay on top of it. Student Learning Services at MRU provides students with the tools needed to be successful in their degree.
Learning service’s website has many great resources for time management, improving your study skills, and staying motivated.
Time management is key to staying on track and ahead of your studies. Amy Yoshida, the learning strategist team lead, advises that students block out twice as many hours outside of class as they spend in a class. She gave an example to illustrate this practice
“I’m taking a Gen Ed 1101 class, I would say it’s a three hour class during the week. So, for three hours in class, I want to block out about six hours outside of class.”
This may seem like a lot, says Yoshida, but scheduling these hours throughout the week helps students stay up to date with a class, as well as have time to work ahead, and time to review earlier material.
Throughout the semester, making time to review is very important, especially when it comes time for finals. Instead of spending the last few weeks of a semester relearning what they were taught at the start of the year, students should have already reviewed that material and be working on their active learning – pulling information out.
In addition to time management, the skill of memorization is crucial for students. Student Learning Services says time is needed to absorb information and transition new facts to your long-term memory. Getting enough sleep is critical for this process and staying up late while cramming more information into your head will not assist you in memorizing facts or formulas.
Yoshida says the process of memorization is important for studying but that it’s also passive. What students need to focus on after memorization is getting the information out. This is a step many students skip when studying.
“That’s what you do on a job, right? You have to pull it out, and use that information,” says Yoshida. “You want to do more active learning.”
On their website, learning services suggests that instead of rewriting notes, highlighting and reading, that students be active by: “Making connections with what you already know, putting material into your own words, re-teaching it to someone else, asking questions, and using new information to solve problems.”
“You’re hoping that by repetition, you’ll remember a bunch of it,” says Yoshida. “Active learning is when you cover up that information, ask yourself questions about it, and try to pull it back out.”
Students often struggle with motivation and procrastination throughout the semester. To combat this, Yoshida says her biggest piece of advice is to be forgiving of yourself.
“People are busy and working hard. So, make sure you do some self-care, make sure that you compliment yourself, literally, on the good job that you are doing instead of focusing on the fact that you haven’t done something or that you’re not doing it as well as you wished you were.”
She also says to adjust your mindset and focus on small tasks instead of large ones. Instead of saying ‘I will write a whole paper’ or ‘I will study this entire subject,’ you need to think ‘I will work for 45 minutes’ or ‘I will read as many pages as I can for 25 minutes.’
“That’s so basic, but yet, so helpful,” says Yoshida. “Telling yourself that you’re going to do a short task for a short amount of time actually feels doable.”
She advises students to set a timer and work for 45 minutes, then break for 15. Alternatively, you can do smaller intervals, such as work for 25 minutes, then break for five.
She also encourages students to book a session with learning services. They offer 30-minute appointments with learning strategists, a variety of different workshops, and the Peer Learning Program where student leaders tutor other students.
With one-on-one appointments, students can talk to a strategist about a paper or project they are working on, or how to prepare for their exams. She recommends students book a week or two ahead so a spot is reserved for them.
Student Learning Services is a free service for MRU students and their goal is to help students be effective and efficient, to take the skills they have and make them even better.
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