Study skills

Effective educational practices  

Effective reading is essential in university studies. Being an effective reader means using different study and working methods.   USCCC has developed a three step working process which has proven successful with students:

  1. Before lectures
  2. During lectures
  3. After lectures

Before lectures - Screening

Screening is a method to prepare for the lesson. You read a book´s headlines, chapter
headings, introductory and summary and try to understand and perceive the main concepts of the text.  You also view images, tables and other information derived separately from the text.

The purpose of screening is becoming familiar with the content of the lesson without reading the text extensively.  If, however, a student´s  participation is required in class he needs to prepare more thoroughly.

The process of screening takes approximately 10-30 minutes for each lesson. Its aim is to increase understanding, give an overview of the content and connect new material with previous knowledge.

 

 

During lectures
– Note-taking:

It is
important to attend lectures and try to get the most out of lessons, pay
attention, listen for main points and to write down useful/meaningful notes. Be
careful, however, not to write too much at the cost of listening and
understanding.

You write
notes to highlight and draw attention to the main ideas and get a clearer view
of what the teacher proposes is important. Good notes are invaluable aids in reviewing
for exams.

Some helpful
tips for note-taking

  1. Have the right tools at hand,
    such as a good pen / pencil, notebook / paper / computer, highlighting pens,
    colours.
  2. Write down dates on all the
    notes, page numbers, use colours and symbols to emphasize important points
    or keywords. Put a question mark or an asterisk if you need to check
    something later or pay special attention to.
  3. Screen the reading/study material
    before the lesson.
  4. Be active; ask questions, etc. whether
    in lessons or while reading.
  5. Choose a seat in the centre of
    one of the front rows – that way you are closer to the teachers. You are
    less likely to be disturbed by others, you see better and it’s easier to
    read slides or on the blackboard.

Note-taking
takes place in the lesson and also while reading/studying the course material
after the lesson.

Working
during the lesson – Note-taking methods:

  • When using the computer, write
    below the slides or create a Word document. If you write notes directly onto
    the handouts from the teachers you can highlight or underline the key
    words and use colours to distinguish your own words from the teacher´s.
  • The Cornell note-taking method
    involves dividing the page down lengthwise into two columns. You have the
    right column wider than the left one (which is 6-8 cm). In the right
    column write fairly detailed notes in your own words from a lesson, but on
    the left write key words and questions formed while reading and revising.
    Key words or key phrases contain core elements, such as the name of the
    theory, the name of the entrepreneur, an important year or a fundamental equation
    in the calculation. Key words call forth images and links to other words
    and ideas. They are useful for reviewing.
  • Card method: On one side of a card
    you write a question, concept or password, such as the name of theories.
    The other side allows you to frame an answer, and often a reference to the
    detailed explanations in the textbook and /or notes.

After the
lessons – Reading in-depth and note-taking:

In-depth reading
is when you study the material after the lessons. It is good to allot at least
two hours for in-depth reading because it takes time to get active and become
involved in the subject. You can use special methods of in-depth reading, for
example, it can be useful to prepare questions from the material of the lesson
(approximately 4-10 questions) either in writing or in your mind and try to
answer them. Do this before beginning reading so that you approach the subject
with a specific purpose in mind. Answering questions is a powerful way to learn
new material, i.e. to ask yourself questions before you move to in-depth reading.
It is also advisable to use the slides / notes as milestones to read from. While
reading it is effective to take notes, underline the words / phrases, insert
notes from a lecture or write on the margins. Create a reminder card when
pausing from the reading.
Attending a study group / reading group is also a very powerful way of
learning. The study group gives you the opportunity to exchange views and
discuss topics with others.

After
lessons - Reviewing

Reviewing is
a vital part of learning. When reviewing you are actually practicing for  any type of assessment.  The process can be divided into three
categories:

  1. Daily reviewing of
    approximately 10 minutes per subject, where you review the notes after the
    lecture and / or after in-depth reading, i.e. summarizing after reading a
    few pages, a section, or after a specific theme. Reading the notes and adding
    to them while the subject is still fresh in the memory shortly after the
    lesson is effective. Try to find key words and identify the main points,
    make a check-list, cover the right column of the notes with your hand (when
    using the Cornell method) and review by reading the key words, etc.
  2. Weekly reviewing of
    approximately 1 hour for each subject, as you quickly glance over the
    notes of the week and/or prepare for projects or short exams.
  3. Major reviewing for exams.

By working
systematically and continuously throughout the semester you increase
significantly the likelihood of success in education. It is important for you
to reflect upon yourself, consider what kind of learning methods you are using
and whether there is need for change. USCCC give students advice on work
practices in higher education, by offering individual sessions and workshops
available at the beginning of each semester. 

 

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