At university you will have to: take personal responsibility for your time and your studies; think for yourself, questioning, evaluating and drawing conclusions about what you hear, see, read and do; and reflect on your experiences, making changes accordingly to improve your performance. To do all this involves the following:
This means being pro-active and taking personal responsibility for:
- Understanding how your course works
Carefully study the information provided to you. Keep a checklist of things you still need to know and find them out from your tutors or appropriate university services.
- Seeking help when you need it
Create your own contact list for your tutors and university support services. This list should include:
- Getting organised and managing your studies
– Find or establish a quiet, comfortable workspace in which to study.
– Make sure you have the files (physical and/or digital) that you’ll need to organise all your course and assignment information.
– Set up the IT you’ll need and familiarise yourself with the university’s online learning systems.
– Use a diary, termly or year planner to plan your studies around your other activities. Find termly and weekly time planners under Time Management on the SLAS website.
– Create and build your own glossary of subject terms and definitions.
– Arrive on time, prepared, notes to hand, and having read any background material requested.
– Listen carefully throughout, taking notes of key points, theories and ideas.
– Be prepared to take part in discussions, if requested.
- Considering how you learn and revise best, and studying accordingly
- Finding a note-taking method that works well for you and your subject
- Completing each assignment on time, following the project brief
Critical thinking means:
- Questioning what you hear, see, read and did (e.g. a method you used) and assessing how convincing, or efficient, or valuable, or useful it is.
- Going beyond pure description, so that:
– As well as giving facts or data, you say what they show and challenge the methods by which they were gathered – e.g. ‘The survey does not take full account of…’
– As well as describing a theory or process, you discuss its strengths and weaknesses, advantages and disadvantages – e.g. ‘This method has several benefits…’
– As well as summarising a piece of text, you say what it shows, identify the key points it makes, and explore its accuracy – e.g. ‘The main weakness of the author’s argument is…’
- Reflecting on your own learning to create a cycle of improvement
– Read and consider assignment feedback to identify areas for improvement, then take action to improve your performance next time, including seeking help if you need it.
– Keep a learning journal in which you consider a specific learning experience (e.g. a deadline missed), reflect on how and why it happened, and plan how to avoid similar problems in future
– Reflect on what went well, as well as what didn’t. This will help you repeat good performances.
For guidance on all the topics mentioned above – including Lectures and seminars, Critical and reflective thinking and Time management – the Student Learning Advisory Service (SLAS) provides 1-1 appointments, workshops and study guides.