Monday, 30 September 2013

5 ways to get your study motivation back

Lost you motivation to study? It's nearly the end of the year and you've probably only have a few assignments to go and possible an exam or two. Here are some ways to find your motivation and get going again with your study.

1. Take a studybreak and get some fresh air.
Take time out to think about what you've achieved already in your studies and what you still need to achieve this year. Break down the time you have left until end of year by the number of assignments or the number of weeks until holidays.

2. Talk about your study
Chat to others who are studying- this could be in person or on a forum.
This can re-inspire you especially when you get to talk about your own studies.

3. Get some exercise
This is a great way to get the blood rushing and oxygen to the brain. You'll feel more alert and ready to tackle your study.

4. Set a small goal
 A small goal could be read 1 page of your text book or write one paragraph 

5. Reward yourself when you achieve a goal.
The bigger the goal the bigger the reward. Set yourself small, achievable goals first and build on them. It's up to you to work out a fair reward system.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Didn't get the mark you wanted? 5 things to help you bounce back

We've all been there at some stage- we've received a mark and thought 'wtf!'

Whether it's an undergrad assignment mark, a postgrad assignment mark, a thesis report or article feedback, here are 5 ways to bounce back from an unexpected 'bad' mark:

1.Re-read the comments.
Usually the feedback doesn't seem so bad reading it the second time around.

2. Ask yourself, is the mark really that bad?
Just because you received a lower mark than expected, it doesn't mean you won't do better on the next assignment. It's not how much effort that's put in, it's how well the criteria was addressed. If you really bombed, make it up on your next assignment, or even contact your tutor for help on the next assignment.

3. Accept - that it's a one off, lower than expected mark. Write it off as an assignment that doesn't count. We all have bad hair days- put this assignment in that box.

4. Think about what you can do to avoid this again- if you haven't thrown the assignment in the 'bad hair day' box. Put a plan into action. Such as 'next assignment, I will have someone proof read it' or ' I will check off the criteria sheet' or ' if I need to clarify something,I will ask the question'. No harm in asking!

5. If you still think you have been hard done by on your mark (except in the case of article feedback, where you would either take on board the feedback and chuck it or take on board the feedback and act on it), ask the course coordinator for clarification or a re-mark. But first ask yourself, 'is a re-mark really crucial in the scheme of things?'. Especially as in the end it may only gain you a mark or two.

What do you do to get over an unexpected 'bad' mark?

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Orwell's 6 rules for writing - which ones do you break?

Many students are now writing their final assignment for the year. Some students are studying for their upcoming exams and some students are crazy enough to be enrolling in Summer units!

Here are some writing tips from George Orwell's 1946 article on Politics and the English Language.

The key points from this article:

  1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  4. Never use the passive where you can use the active. (click here for explanation)
  5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous (in other words, use common sense when applying these rules)
I'm guilty of breaking all of them and I have found that to not break them, I need to continually practise what I call the Art of Writing.

What 'rules' do you break when writing an assignment?

Friday, 20 September 2013

5 things NOT to ask your University tutor!

I love being a tutor. I love being able to encourage students in their studies but there are 5 things that students just shouldn't ask their tutor.

1. 'I put in so much effort - can I get a re-mark?'
That's great you are putting so much effort into your study but this really isn't a good enough argument to try and get a better grade! Marks are given according to how well you address the set criteria.

2. 'What did you say? I wasn't listening.'
Calling this out in a tutorial is really quite rude and it doesn't say much for your maturity -along with your actions, playing your iPhone and gossiping to your neighbour about something irrelevant. The tutorial is less than two hours-my 7 year old has a better attention span.

3. 'So, how do I write this assignment?
After going through with the tutorial group, the assignment outline (also explicitly written on the discussion board, the title headings and what is required within each section),  the marking rubric and providing time in two tutorials for the first step of the assignment, asking the tutor how to begin writing this assignment without attempting to write anything is just plain lazy. At least have a go.

4. 'Do you think I will get a good mark?'
As a tutor, I'm happy to provide feedback on drafts but when you ask this question on a half written draft without any references to the literature, this question is especially inappropriate.

5. Why do we even have to do this assignment?
Asking this question with your nose turned up and following it up with, 'I'll just write anything and you won't know that I've copied it or made it up,' only casts a suspicious eye on your work. And I might add it is unprofessional - I can't imagine this question would go down very well with your next employer when they ask you to fulfil a task that you don't see as worthy! Assignments are given to assess your knowledge and understanding of a topic.

I encourage my students to ask me questions and clarify their thoughts. Tutors want their students to do well but we also want you to be self-learners too. Tutors are their to assist and guide you through your study journey, not to hold your hand and do your assignments for you.

What does your study space look like?

Many of you would have seen my cover photo on eDegree's Facebook page. This has been my 2013 pinboard of motivation. It includes;

- a picture of my family including my gorgeous nieces and nephew
Who else is better to motivate you to achieve than the ones you love most!

- my thesis structure
Although I have finished my Masters thesis - I still keep this up as a reminder of how many 'mini' assignments there are in a thesis. It will stay there until my next research project! For an undergrad degree, this focus could be an assignment outline, either your own summary or one from the course outline.
- my study support page name
This is a great reminder that I am on a journey shared by many others seeking to further their education too!

- writing style guide
There are so many different types of text to write. This one helped me focus on the way I want to write my journal article.

-my semester timeline
This really kept my goals in check. It had what I wanted to achieve each week so that I could stay focussed - and it worked!

-a bull clip
This has all my sons papers with things like his reading eggs username and password. Can't all be about me!

What else do I want and probably should include - a motivational quote. There are just so many great ones it is hard to choose. However, my motto is: Keep It Simple!
Next is my desk space.
My desk space is mostly paper free. Although I still love a notebook to scribble ideas and notes. 

My desk has on it;

-my notebook PC

-a pic of my grad

-a mini trophy I won when I was on prac as a pre-service teacher

-a notebook, APA reference book, book of certificates in a book holder

- my gold pen (my husband bought me this as he knows how much I love to write!)

-a comfy chair -although I confess, I stole this from my husband's side of the study! I really think its time I invested in my own comfy chair!

So, what does your study space say about you? Do you even have one? Although I do work from other study spaces such as my back patio, the University lounge or mum's house, I still like my own study space surrounded by things that motivate me. And I love that it is relatively clutter and paper free.