Can we help you to be a more resilient student? – info tip

You may have read a lot about resilience recently – but what does it mean for you as a student?

In academic study, everything depends on being critical. You are encouraged to take a critical approach in your reading, note-making, practical research, and writing. That’s what makes your studying academically rigorous: but it can feel more difficult when the critical eye of your marker is turned on your work. This is when resilience kicks in. The resilient student is able to understand criticism as a tool to develop skills and understanding. Study Advice and the Library can help you to develop resilience and use it to feel less stressed and enhance your study success.

 

Be prepared!

Feeling prepared will build your academic confidence and that will make you more resilient. Try keeping a learning log so you can reflect on things that have worked well, and things that you might need to work on. Look back on this after you’ve submitted your assignments, and you’ll be well prepared by the time you have to write the next one.

You can prepare for lectures, seminars and lab sessions by gaining a bit of basic knowledge of the topic before the session. You can find short articles in encyclopaedias and other reference works written for your subject; the Dictionaries and Encyclopaedias tab in your Subject Guide will list some useful titles.

For your more detailed reading when you prepare for exams and assignments, Study Advice has a guide on reading and making notes, and video tutorials on researching your assignments and preparing for exams. Make sure you’re prepared to get the best mark when you’re writing up your assignments with our guides on essay writing, report writing and dissertations.

 

Dealing with feedback

When you get your assignments back, it’s tempting to take a quick peek at the mark and then file them away. That’s a good way to avoid feeling deflated by criticism of your work; but you’ll miss out on the comments from your marker that are designed to help you develop.

Our video tutorials on assessment and feedback can help you understand what markers are looking for, and how to use your feedback as a tool to improve your marks. Our guides can show you ways to respond to common comments. For instance, the Library can help you to respond to the comment that you need to ‘do wider reading’. Have a look at their Subject Guides, and guides to using the Library Catalogues for ways to find more reading in your subject.

The Study Advice academic writing guide has tips on grammar and punctuation, and on effective proof-reading, and our citing references guide will make sure you cite it right. Or come and see us for a one-to-one confidential advice session to go through your feedback and discuss how you could respond.

 

How to stop putting it off

Procrastination is often a consequence of not developing your resilience. It’s a common response to the fear of failure – and it’s harder to succeed if you’re not sure what success looks like. Using the strategies above to make you feel more prepared and understand your markers’ expectations will help to avoid this. However, if you find yourself constantly putting things off, we have a video tutorial on overcoming procrastination to help you break the cycle. And it’s under seven minutes long, so you won’t be wasting any time watching it!

And if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed generally, have a look at our other video tutorials on time management. They include one on making more hours in the day – something we all need!

 

This is one of a series of tips to help you save time and effort finding or using information.

This tip was written by Kim Shahabudin, Study Adviser.

Overwhelmed by reading? – info tip

If your resolution this term is to be more efficient when studying, a good area to focus on is your reading and note-making. Independent reading and taking notes are likely to make up a large part of your study time at university, so a few small adaptations to your reading strategies could potentially save you a lot of time over the term.

Reading with a purpose

The Study Advice team has a guide on managing academic reading which includes ideas on how to select material, deciding how much to read, and reading techniques. We also have a brief video tutorial on reading academic texts that introduces the kind of reading needed for academic work and appropriate strategies.

To get started, use this simple three-step plan to make your reading more active and targeted:

 1. Understand the purpose for your reading:

2. Think about what you need to find out:

Ask yourself what you already know about the topic, from previous lectures, seminars or wider knowledge. Use this to identify your gaps and what you need to find out – it can be useful to phrase this as a series of questions so you can then search for answers to those questions.

3. Identify where you can find this information:

Your reading list is often a helpful place to start – the Library has a guide to understanding your reading list. But to get the best marks you will most likely need to go beyond your reading list – see the Library guide on doing your literature search for information on where to look, effective search tips, finding the items you need. For targeted resources and more advice on finding information in your subject, take a look at your subject resources pages or contact your subject liaison librarian.

An open notebook and pensNote this!

Efficient reading goes hand-in-hand with good note-making, so if you feel you are being slowed down by taking too many, or too few notes, have a look at our guide to effective note-taking and our video tutorial on critical note-taking.

The secret is not trying to capture everything you’ve read (or you’ll just end up with more notes than there are pages in the book itself!) but to keep good records so you know where to find the information again when you need it. Watch this short video tutorial on finding bibliographical details you need for note-making and referencing. If you find it hard to keep track of your references, consider using reference management software, such as EndNote.

Spending too long reading?

Reading is a potentially open-ended task – there is always one more book or journal article in the Library that you could read. If you feel your reading is taking too long, have a look at the Study Advice guides on managing your time and our video tutorial on how to make more hours in the day

If you find it difficult to focus on your reading, list the things that distract you and take steps to deal with these distractions. For example, disable pop-up notifications on your phone if you know social media can easily draw your attention away from your reading. Another helpful strategy is to think about the time of day when you are most focused and productive, and use your best thinking time to tackle the most difficult texts.

Putting limits around your reading time and stopping it from becoming an endless task can also improve your efficiency and your motivation! Make an estimate of how much time you need to do your reading, break your reading down into manageable chunks, and schedule it into a weekly study timetable. For more advice on how to make one, watch our video tutorial on making a study timetable.

Need more help?

If you need more advice on how to manage your reading and improve your note-taking techniques, contact the Study Advice team to book an appointment.

This is one of a series of tips to help you save time and effort finding or using information.

This tip was written by Dr Michelle Reid and Erika Delbecque, Study Advisers.

Challenge yourself to maximise your Library and Study Skills – info tip

Student studyingWant to make sure you get the best possible marks by working smarter, not harder? Week 6 is the perfect time to review and develop the skills you need to succeed and work effectively in your studies. The Library and Study Advice teams have guides and videos that will help you achieve just this. And why not take one of our challenges and learn a new skill that will make your studying more successful and help you to find excellent resources?

What do you need to develop?

Everyone starts from a different place and progresses through their studies at a different pace, so you will need to consider what your own needs are and how they are best met, but the suggestions below should have something for you.

Ten challenges to try something new

  1. Learn how to access and use an e-book.
  2. Sign up to an app like Forest, Evernote, Tomato-Timer or Remember the Milk to keep yourself organised and on schedule.
  3. Use Summon to find a newspaper article or book review that’s related to your subject.
  4. Try a new learning technique – video or record yourself talking for three minutes on a topic from your course.
  5. Set up an EndNote Web account to store your references.
  6. Start a reading diary to record your reflections on what you’ve read (use a paper notebook or set up a private blog).
  7. Find a map that will help with your subject – they’re not just for geographers!
  8. Watch a video tutorial on an aspect of study that you need to develop.
  9. Pick up a free year planner from Study Advice and get control over your deadlines.
  10. And finally, take a break from studying and use Enterprise to find and borrow a film on DVD – we’ve lots to choose from.

Alarm clock“I don’t have time to develop my skills!”

It can be hard to develop new skills when you’re already busy using the old ones – but it’s worth doing to save lots of time in the future. If you don’t have much time, try these quick ideas:

If you’ve got 5 minutes…

If you’ve got 10 minutes…

  • Record yourself recapping the main points of your last lecture – it’s more effective than rewriting your notes.
  • Open an EndNote Web account to manage your references, then bookmark our guides and training sessions to find out how to use it.

If you’ve got 30 minutes…

  • Enrol on a LibLearn tutorial to learn how to get the most out of your library – there are advanced versions if you’ve already tried one.
  • Book a session with a Study Adviser to review your study practices and see if there’s anything your could develop.
  • If you’re a Part 1 undergraduate who hasn’t enrolled in Study Smart yet, now’s your last chance – free enrolment only remains open till 12 Nov. Check your emails for details of how to do this: once you’re enrolled you retain access to the resources for the whole year. If you’re already enrolled, re-read any sections that are more directly relevant to what you’re doing now in your studies.

This is one of a series of tips to help you save time and effort finding or using information.

This tip was written by Kim Shahabudin, Study Adviser and Sally Smith, Liaison Librarian.

Using Library books around refurb work

Here’s an update on accessing Library resources within the Library Building, even though many other areas are closed for Library Refurbishment Project construction work.

Using Library resources

Tall man holds small book, small lady holds large book outside UoR Library

Large size arts & hums books have moved up to our 4th Floor; normal sized items down to the 2nd Floor.

The 2nd and 4th Floors of the Library are open, containing all your books. This includes arts and humanities material, relocated from the now-closed 3rd Floor: normal size material went to the 2nd Floor; larger size and Teaching Practice Collection items to the 4th Floor. If you need any help finding anything, just ask Library staff at 2nd or 4th Floor Information Desks.

A few unique print journals are retained on the 4th Floor, but as most print journals are unavailable until after refurbishment, we encourage you to use our online journals or request an inter-library loan.

Man uses Library Self-Service Point machines of right, computers on left.Although much of the Ground Floor is now out-of bounds, we created a small area at the bottom of the main stairs for you to borrow, return or renew your loans at Self-Service Points or use PCs and catalogues. Just ask at the Help Point by the entrance if you need assistance. Ground Floor toilets are also still available.

Library construction work

White cloth over doors to 3rd Floor from stairsYou may have heard construction work in progress from areas closed-off for your safety (Ground Floor, 1st, 3rd and 5th Floors). Our contractors are demolishing internal walls in advance of refurbishing our 1st and Ground Floors; removing staircase 2 before installing new accessible lifts; and preparing to install new heating, ventilation and toilets on our 3rd Floor; besides installing new windows. Find out more about our plans on our Library Refurbishment Project webpage or visit our URS Building display (2nd Floor landing by Café Libro) for images of future development and previously refurbished floors, which will be reinstated.

URS Building facilities

Lego construction figures arranged around book and large single black Lego brick

Remember! Library Building = books + builders; URS (Lego) Building = study space + services.

Remember to visit the URS Building for Library services and study space, next door at the other end of the orange brick road, further away from potential construction noise. This is also where you will find Cafe Libro, Course Collection material and can collect ‘holds’.

Rachel Redrup, Library Marketing Co-ordinator

What are the Study Advisers up to? (March 2017)

This post is the first in a planned series of regular updates and timely tips from the Study Advice team. For more on any topic, see our website or contact us at studyadvice@reading.ac.uk.

Thinking about dissertations?

With undergraduates hopefully reaching the final stages of their dissertations and Masters students starting to embark upon theirs, it’s a good time to remind you of our guides and video tutorials to help make dissertations and longer research projects more successful. These include:

Students are also welcome to book one-to-one appointments with us for more individual advice on the process of planning, researching and writing their dissertations (all contact details on our website). Study Advice will be available during Easter and Summer vacations when many people stay on campus to work on their projects. So for dissertation advice and support, do come our way!

New team member

Erika Delbecque has joined the Study Advice Team as a Part-Time Study Adviser. She is no stranger to the University of Reading having previously worked at the University Library as a Trainee Liaison Librarian, and will continue to work as a Part-Time Librarian at the University’s Museums and Special Collections Services alongside her new role.

Her first degree is in English and Dutch Literature, and she has gained postgraduate qualifications in Education and in Librarianship. Erika is particularly interested in digital literacies and the impact of technology on student learning, innovative pedagogical practices, and in supporting international students.

Making exam revision more effective

Spring is on its way and so too are university exams. With this in mind, it’s worth remembering Study Advice resources to help with exam revision. We have a range of information in our study guide and a suite of video tutorials. These cover topics including:

Tutors are welcome to link to any of these resources in revision sessions.

We also have two seminars on exams, both in Palmer 105 from 2-3:

  • Wed 8 March: Revising for Exams
  • Wed 15 March: Writing for Exams

You don’t need to book for these informal workshops; just turn up. In addition, students can book a one-to-one appointment with a Study Adviser to discuss revision plans and strategies on an individual basis.