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Tuan Boston
May 18, 2007, 06:36 AM

Studies Guides and Strategies


A1. Learning to learn :

Your path for most effective learning is through knowing:

. yourself,

. your capacity to learn,

. the process you have successfully used in the past,

. your interest in, and knowledge of, the subject you wish to learn

It may be easy for you to learn physics but impossible to learn tennis, or vice versa.

All learning, however, is a process which settles into certain steps.

These are four steps to learning.

Begin by printing this and answering the questions.

Then plan your strategy with your answers, and with other "Study Guides"

Begin with the past

What was your experience about how you learn? Did you

. like to read? solve problems? memorize? recite? interpret? speak to groups?

. know how to summarize?

. ask questions about what you studied?

. review?

. have access to information from a variety of sources? like quiet or study groups?

. need several brief study sessions, or one longer one?

What are your study habits? How did they evolve? Which worked best? worst?

How did you communicate what you learned best? Through a written test, a term paper, an interview?

Proceed to the present

How interested am I in this?

How much time do I want to spend learning this?

What competes for my attention?

Are the circumstances right for success?

What can I control, and what is outside my control?

Can I change these conditions for success?

What affects my dedication to learning this?

Do I have a plan? Does my plan consider my past experience and learning style?

Consider the process, the subject matter

What is the heading or title?

What are key words that jump out?

Do I understand them?

What do I know about this already?

Do I know related subjects?

What kinds of resources and information will help me?

Will I only rely on one source (for example, a textbook) for information?

Will I need to look for additional sources?

As I study, do I ask myself whether I understand?

Should I go more quickly or more slowly?

If I don't understand, do I ask why?

Do I stop and summarize?

Do I stop and ask whether it's logical?

Do I stop and evaluate (agree/disagree)?

Do I just need time to think it over and return later?

Do I need to discuss it with other "learners" in order to process the information?

Do I need to find an authority, such as a teacher, a librarian, or a subject-matter expert?

Build in review

What did I do right?

What could I do better?

Did my plan coincide with how I work with my strengths and weaknesses?

Did I choose the right conditions?

Did I follow through; was I disciplined with myself?

Did I succeed?

Did I celebrate my success.

A2.Scheduling and setting goals

Learner's Day Planner:

Review how you spend your time

in order to help you prioritize your goals and objectives

A3. Time management :

Developing time management skills is a journey that may begin with this Guide, but needs practice and her guidance along the way.

One goal is to help yourself become aware of how you use your time as one resource in organizing, prioritizing, and succeeding in your studies in the context of competing activities of friends, work, family, etc.

First: try our exercise in time management here.

Strategies on using time:

Develop blocks of study time

About 50 minutes? How long does it take for you to become restless?

Some learners need more frequent breaks for a variety of reasons

More difficult material may also require more frequent breaks

. Schedule weekly reviews and updates

. Prioritize assignments

When studying, get in the habit of beginning with the most difficult subject or task

. Develop alternative study places free from distractions to maximize concentration

. Got "dead time"?

Think of using time walking, riding, etc. for studying “bits”

. Review studies and readings just before class

. Review lecture material immediately after class

(Forgetting is greatest within 24 hours without review)

.Schedule time for critical course events (Papers,

presentations, tests, etc.)

Try the University of Minnesota's Assignment Calculator

Develop criteria for adjusting your schedule to meet both your academic and non-academic needs

Effective aids:

. "To Do" list :

Write down things you have to do, then decide what to do at the moment, what to schedule for later, what to get someone else to do, and what to put off for a later time period

.Daily/weekly planner :

Write down appointments, classes, and meetings on a chronological log book or chart.

If you are more visual, sketch out your schedule

First thing in the morning, check what's ahead for the day

always go to sleep knowing you're prepared for tomorrow

. Long term planner :

Use a monthly chart so that you can plan ahead.

Long term planners will also serve as a reminder to constructively plan time for yourself.

A4. Managing Stress :

How to Deal with Stress

First, you must learn to recognize stress:

Stress symptoms include mental, social, and physical manifestations. These include exhaustion, loss of/increased appetite, headaches, crying, sleeplessness, and oversleeping. Escape through alcohol, drugs, or other compulsive behavior are often indications. Feelings of alarm, frustration, or apathy may accompany stress.

If you feel that stress is affecting your studies,

a first option is to seek help through your educational counseling center.

Stress Management is the ability to maintain control when situations, people, and events make excessive demands.What you can do to manage your stress? What are some strategies?

Look around

See if there really is something you can change or control in the situation

Remove yourself from the stressful situation

Give yourself a break if only for a few moments daily

Don't sweat the small stuff

Try to prioritize a few truly important things and let the rest slide

Selectively change the way you react,

but not too much at one time. Focus on one troublesome thing and manage your reactions to it/him/her

Avoid extreme reactions;

Why hate when a little dislike will do? Why generate anxiety when you can be nervous? Why rage when anger will do the job? Why be depressed when you can just be sad?

Get enough sleep

Lack of rest just aggravates stress

Avoid self-medication or escape

Alcohol and drugs can mask stress. They don't help deal with the problem

Learn how to best relax yourself

Meditation and breathing exercises have been proven to be very effective in controlling stress. Practice clearing your mind of disturbing thoughts.

Set realistic goals for yourself

Reduce the number of events going on in your life and you may reduce the circuit overload

Don't overwhelm yourself

by fretting about your entire workload. Handle each task as it comes, or selectively deal with matters in some priority

Change the way you see things

Learn to recognize stress for what it is. Increase your body's feedback and make stress self-regulating

Do something for others

to help get your mind off your self

Work off stress

with physical activity, whether it's jogging, tennis, gardening

Develop a thick skin

The bottom line of stress management is "I upset myself"

Try to "use" stress

If you can't fight what's bothering you and you can't flee from it, flow with it and try to use it in a productive way

Try to be positive

Give yourself messages as to how well you can cope rather than how horrible everything is going to be. "Stress can actually help memory, provided it is short-term and not too severe. Stress causes more glucose to be delivered to the brain, which makes more energy available to neurons. This, in turn, enhances memory formation and retrieval. On the other hand, if stress is prolonged, it can impede the glucose delivery and disrupt memory.

A5. Avoiding Procrastination

Is your procrastination related to a project? or is it a habit?

To remedy procrastination:

Begin with one, modest project

Answer these basic questions

Keep the answers before you as you mark your progress:

What do you want to do?

What is the final objective, the end result?

It may be obvious, or not

What are the major steps to get there?

Don't get too detailed: think big

What have you done so far?

Acknowledge that you are already part of the way, even if it is through thinking!

The longest journey begins with a first step

Why do you want to do this?

What is your biggest motivation?

Do not concern yourself if your motivation is negative!

This is honest and a good beginning.

However, if your motivation is negative, re-phrase and re-work it until it is phrased positively

What other positive results will flow from achieving your goal?

Identifying these will help you uncover benefits that you may be avoiding: Dare to dream!

List out what stands in your way

What is in your power to change?

What resources outside yourself do you need?

Resources are not all physical (i.e. tools and money), and include time, people/professionals/elders, even attitude

What will happen if you don't progress?

It won't hurt to scare yourself a little...

Develop your plan, list

Major, realistic steps

A project is easier when it is built in stages;

Start small;

Add detail and complexity as you achieve and grow

How much time each will take

A schedule helps you keep a progress chart and reinforce that there are way-stations on your path

What time of day, week, etc. you dedicate yourself

to work. This helps you

develop a new habit of working,

build a good work environment, and distance distractions (It is much easier to enjoy your project when distractions are set aside.)

Rewards you will have at each station

and also what you will deny yourself until you arrive at each station

Build in time for review

Find a trusted friend, elder, or expert to help you motivate yourself or monitor progress

Admit to:

False starts and mistakes as learning experiences

They can be more important than successes, and give meaning to "experience"

Distractions and escapes

Do not deny they exist, but deny their temptation


Admit to frustration when things don't seem to be going right

Admit that you have had a problem, but also that you are doing something about it


See yourself succeeding

Finally: if procrastination is a habit of yours, forget it.

Focus on the tasks and project at hand, and build from there!