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INSIGHTS INTO STUDY SKILLS. Chapter 1. Colin Rees & Alan Glasper. Introduction . This presentation will help you understand the key principles for successful study. In particular it will help you explore: Different learning settings, including e-learning Time management Writing skills

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  1. INSIGHTS INTO STUDY SKILLS Chapter 1 Colin Rees & Alan Glasper

  2. Introduction This presentation will help you understand the key principles for successful study. In particular it will help you explore: • Different learning settings, including e-learning • Time management • Writing skills • Research skills • Techniques for assignment working

  3. Getting started • One of the keys to being a successful student is taking responsibility for yourself and ensuring that you are well prepared for daily life, assignments and other academic work. • You have to consult notice boards for details of venues. • Also remember to check the University website or Blackboard/WebCT for any module changes or information on where you should be and what you will need to bring with you, or wear. This is especially pertinent for skills laboratory work. • Many universities have schemes to help students buy lap tops cheaply – check their website

  4. Types of Learning Setting • There are a number of different ways your learning will be structured. These will include: • Lectures • Seminars • Tutorials • Work-books • Problem based learning/Enquiry based learning /Action learning /Case Studying • Group work & activities, sometimes with a variety of health care students • Reflective accounts • E-learning & electronic discussion boards • Poster presentations

  5. In all learning settings you will need to: • Identify learning outcome (aim) • Collect information and process it (or in the case of a skill, practise it) • Structure an answer to satisfy the aim, or carry out a skill that has been demonstrated or described • Reflect on what has been learnt Wherever you are learning, work together as a team!

  6. E-Learning • E-learning can be defined as any form of learning that takes place through electronic means. This includes everything from computers to learning programs on CD. More usually, however, it focuses on computers and web-based methods of learning, using virtual leaning platforms such as Blackboard or WebCT. • Endeavour to set up part of your home as a study area if you are not in halls. • Some universities facilitate their students undertaking the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) or Essential IT Skills (EITS) as part of their course. For details go to: •

  7. People vary in their skill and familiarity with the computer. Although some may find it intimidating, the best plan is to make the computer work for you. It can help you with: • Writing in all its forms, including preparing assignments, emailing other students & University staff • Finding out what information is available on a topic • Getting hold of published & web material • Sending drafts of work to lecturers for comment • Using software such as referencing programs to make putting work together easier • Increasing understanding of topics through material available on websites & CD packages • Taking part in notice boards or discussion pages on the web, which are often part of the university website/virtual learning platform • Using learning packages on the web

  8. Time Management • There are many tools to help you achieve good time management, such as: • Electronic palm-held organisers/mobile phone organisers • Notepads • Diaries • Wall calendars • Q. Can you name any others?

  9. Some tips for time management would include: Have a clear ‘system’ to record key events, times & places such as lectures, seminars, & clinical placement details Do not wander aimlessly through the library. Organising your time is one of the most important skills to develop early in a course

  10. Writing Skills • During your course you will write in a number of different ways, for example: • Note-taking in lectures, sometimes on PowerPoint handouts. These are often available for download in advance on the virtual learning platforms before the lecture • Rough notes for assignments or tutorials • Taking notes from articles or websites • Assignment work • Reflection on work for an assignment or private reflections • Contribution to on-line student learning groups or discussion boards, some of which may count towards a final grade & have to be undertaken as part of the overall assignment. In particular, this is often the case with some of the interprofessional activities you will have to undertake

  11. NOTEMAKING Tips for note-making would include: Write main words or key phrases to trigger your memory on important aspects of a session. Making notes on key points can also help to keep you ‘tuned-in’ to lectures Do not write down the content of PowerPoint presentations. This will usually be made available to you, either as PowerPoint notes, or for download from the University site. These are often available before the lecture Consider using ‘mind-maps’ or ‘spider-diagrams’, rather than linear notes. The visual aspect of this can be a big advantage as you can see the ‘whole thing’ at a glance ‘Remember to write your own ideas & questions during lectures, to follow-up later. Expand lecture notes with material taken from books and articles, and add your own reflections and pointers

  12. 2. PROFESSIONAL VOCABULARY • During your course you will effectively learn the new ‘language’ of your chosen profession. • Each time you encounter a new word or phrase, record it in a specific ‘vocabulary’ notebook for future reference. • Concentrate on producing a definition for these words • Make sure you can spell them correctly, and use them appropriately as part of a sentence. • Read through your ‘vocabulary’ notebook regularly so that the words become incorporated into your speech and written work. Importantly when you see these words in journal paper you will now understand their context

  13. 3. PARAPHRASING • Using the ideas and words from published sources such as books and articles is a big part of academic writing. This is because it shows that you have taken other viewpoints into account, and that where possible, you have read and considered what experts on a particular topic have found or said about something. • Rebuilding these ideas and viewpoints and using them in your own academic writing is known as paraphrasing which essentially means putting it into your own words.

  14. 4. PLAGIARISM • Plagiarism is taking someone else’s words as your own, without acknowledging who said them, and where. Academically, this is viewed as stealing someone’s ideas. Plagiarism is seen as a form of dishonesty, as it is intended to deceive or trick people into thinking the words are your own. • Avoid plagiarism at all costs, as the academic consequences are quite severe, and may mean you leaving the course, or receiving a stern punishment. Your student handbook will guide you in this. • You would not steal a text book, don’t steal words !

  15. 5. REFERENCING • Good referencing is the hallmark of academic achievement. When collecting material from any source, remember that you will have to reference it if used in your work. Always record all the information you will need to complete the reference, on a hard copy, or added to the electronic information you have collected. • Reference errors always attract grade penalties. Being able to reference is not a sign of intellect but rather diligence.

  16. FOCUS ON: HARVARD REFERENCING SYSTEM • The Harvard system is the most popular system used in UK Universities. • However, there are slight variations in the Harvard system used by different places. Compare the examples here with the system recommended by your academic institution and stick to theirs. • Use the example on the next slide to understand the principles involved.

  17. Referencing a book: • Author(s) surname and initial • Editor(s) if appropriate • Year of publication in brackets (corresponding to edition) • Title (in Italics) • Edition if second or greater (first editions are not indicated) • Place of publication (use first in list where several are given) • Publisher (not the printer) • Most of this information can be found on the inside pages, as well as the cover & spine. Year is usually on a left hand page inside. Where several editions, use the most recent (not reprint year) Michaels J and Owen D (eds.) (2008) Professional Education in Health Care (2nd edn.) Oxford: Blackwell.

  18. Referencing a chapter in a book: Note that the reference goes right across the page and starts underneath the previous line. The parts are not presented on different lines, have gaps in them and names are not all capital letters. Johns M (2008) Assessing pain in the young. In: Davies O (ed.) Pain and its Treatment. London: Routledge.

  19. Referencing a journal article: • Author(s) surname and initial • Year of publication • Article title • Name of journal in full (in Italics) • Volume • Number within the volume • Page numbers covered by the article • Note that the volume, number within the volume & page numbers are presented simply as numbers with brackets around the number within the volume. Unless specified by your educational institution, do not use ‘vol’, ‘no’ or ‘pps’. Notice also that the title of the journal, which must be in full, is in italics. Hauxwell B (2008) Study tips for students. Nurse Education Today. 16 (4) 26-30.

  20. Referencing website material: • Name/organisation • Year if indicated (‘Not dated’ if not) • Title of page or article • Name of organisation or website name • ‘http’ address (listed at top of screen or bottom of printout page). You will find that your computer will automatically underline this for you • Date accessed (usually automatically printed at the bottom of a printout of an article, unless it is a pdf file) • RCM (2004) Position Statement Number 4: Normal Childbirth. Accessed 21/7/08.

  21. Research • Q. Where might you look for information on your subject area? • Sources of information might include: • Published articles • Books • Websites • Leaflets • Expert opinions • Person written accounts

  22. LITERATURE REVIEW You cannot complete an assignment without conducting a literature review. Selecting the first article you find on Google is not sufficient. You will need to demonstrate that you have systematically searched the available literature for material to help you to answer your assignment guidelines. Keep a note of: Key words you used to search databases The names of the databases or search engines you used Time frame; that is the years between which most of the information was gathered Inclusion and exclusion selection criteria, if you specifically searched for information from certain countries or aspects of the information, e.g. including information about relatives or carer’s as well as patients/clients

  23. 2. ANALYSIS • Scan your material quickly to look for information that covers some of the theme headings under which you will structure the review. You might want to use a highlighter pen for this. • Use a ‘star’ system and give 5 stars for ‘brilliant – lots of good material’ to 1 star for ‘very little relevance’. • Keep articles with similar star ratings together and concentrate on the high star articles first when you go back to putting the material together.

  24. 3. CRITIQUING Critiquing has been defined by Rees (2003) as ‘the careful consideration of both the strengths and limitations of a published piece of research’. It is not simply ‘criticising’ or being very negative about a study. It is important to critique following a systematic structure. There are many available but the following, taken from the chapter on insights into study skills, is a simple and effective framework. The framework you use should be stated in your work.

  25. 5. Tool of data collection What was used to collect the information? Questionnaires, interviews, observation, assessment scales, physiological measures? If it is quantitative research, did they pilot the method? Did they consider the accuracy of the tool in terms of reliability and validity, what has actually been measured by the tool? (Qualitative research works a little differently, and you need to refer to the research textbooks for more on this.) 6. Ethics Was it considered by an ethics committee (LREC or if American an IRB)? Did they get informed consent? Were possible risks to the individual considered? 7. Sample On how many people are the results based? How did they choose them? Were there specific inclusion and exclusion criteria used to select people? Did anyone drop out of the study, or what percentage response rate did they achieve. Do you feel they were typical/representative of that group? 8. Data presentation How did they process the information collected? How do they present this information to you? Is it understandable like this? Is it explained?

  26. 9. Main findings What data answers the aim (the results). 10. Conclusion What sums up the answer to the aim,in the author’s own words. 11. Recommendations What do they suggest should happen now - who should do what? 12. Readability Did they make it easy to read by explaining technical aspects? Was it interesting? 13. Strengths/ Limitations Summing up, what were the good aspects of the method and what were the weaker areas of how they did it? 14. Implications for practice What do you feel are the messages for practice? What is the ‘so what?’ aspect for you?

  27. When you have critiqued a study you should be able to say: • The aim of this study was to (aim)… • It did this by means of (this kind of study), and (this kind of data collection method), on (this number of) people (design and method)… • They found (main results)… • The conclusion was… • The strengths of the study included… • The limitations were… • The implications this study has for practice include/are… The use of numbers and statistical processes in research articles intimidates many readers. Do look at the figures and try and work out what they show. Usually the writer will explain in the article what the numbers represent and their interpretation of them. The use of numbers and statistical processes in research articles intimidates many readers. Do look at the figures and try and work out what they show. Usually the writer will explain in the article what the numbers represent and their interpretation of them.

  28. Assignments Following a few simple rules will help you get a good mark: • Study the title to understand what is required • Check the learning outcomes for the module to see what the assignment is testing • Produce a timetable to manage your time • Gather useful material • Work to an assignment structure and plan • Spend time on editing the work several times • Ensure that the question or title has been fully answered • Reflect on what has been learnt through the assignment • Always carry out a final check for simple errors before submitting • Use an appropriate range of resources & do not rely on web-based material. Use papers from peer reviewed journals to enhance your assignment • Always check that every reference you have used is in the reference section in the correct Harvard order

  29. 1. PROCESS Write an assignment plan using ‘Beginning/Middle/End’ as a rough structure – these headings will not be used in the final version but will help in the early stages of the work Gather material to slot into the various sections that meet the prescribed learning outcomes. This is crucial! Write a first draft See your group/ personal tutor/supervisor if needed. Edit the draft into a final version Check you have followed the assignment guidelines with appropriate weighting for individual learning outcomes & check you have answered the question within the word limit Carry out a final check for simple errors, and ensure that all references are complete and accurately presented Submit in the university agreed font style & spacing. Avoid exotic font designs – this is an academic assignment not a comic book!

  30. 2. PLANNING Write both the assignment question or aim and the specified learning outcomes on a paper or card and place it where you can see it when you are writing. This will keep you focused and stops you drifting aimlessly through the work Don’t go for easy answers, repeating what you have already heard in lectures. Be creative or at least ‘thoughtful’ Think about the question and what the topic means to you Gather examples to support your statements and add definitions where specialist words are used Make the major part of your references as up-to-date as possible Use a variety of books & journal articles to show you have read around the subject. Do not rely on textbooks alone! Each time you mention an author, add the reference to your ‘References’ section at the end of your draft. That way, when you have finished your draft you have also finished your references section! It is essential to back-up your work frequently with a data stick or similar. There is nothing more upsetting than completing a lot of hard work and then losing it!

  31. 3. COMPOSING Take care over spelling, grammar, punctuation and referencing. Mistakes can lose you marks. Make sure your automatic spell and grammar checks are switched on to ‘English UK’ & not ‘English US’ Don’t overuse ‘cited in’, that is, where most of your references come from someone else’s work Endeavour to avoid overusing quotations unless they have strong irrefutable provenance, for example Nightingale’s “Children: they are affected by the same things [as adults] but much more quickly and seriously.” p72 Nightingale F, (1859) Notes on nursing: what it is and what it is not. London. Duckworth and company (1970 reprint) Write your references in the reference section of the assignment as soon as you use them. This will save much heartache Write a fast first draft so that you have something to work from. In this draft, use simple words and where you know there should be a reference, indicate to yourself that something needs to go in

  32. 4. DRAFTING Always expect to change your draft later, rather than trying to write the perfect sentence and paragraph before you carry on Look at the way other writers craft their work, how they introduce the names of other authors, how they start sections and paragraphs Check drafts for notes to yourself you have not removed, repetition of words, and jumbled material Avoid over-using words like ‘important’, ‘key,’ and avoid starting sentences that are close together with the same words or phrases (e.g. ‘It is’) Delete superfluous phrases such as ‘as was said earlier’ as these add nothing to the work Put your nearly completed draft out of mind and don’t read it for a day or two, so you can look at it with fresh eyes Write from a reader’s point of view; would you be interested in reading it? In general, use the 3rd person rather than writing in the first person unless you are writing a reflective aspect to the assignment

  33. 5. SEEKING AN EXTENSION • Most universities will grant a one or two week extension, providing you contact the assignment leader at least a week before the deadline. The assignment leader will grant an extension by completing a student assignment extension form which will be sent to you. • Excuses such as I ran out of time or the dog ate my hard disk will rarely succeed (unless you have x-ray confirmation of the dog’s abdomen!) • Clearly it is not always possible to let your assignment leader know more than a few days in advance of the assignment deadline, for example in the case of personal or family illness. Be prepared to offer mitigating circumstances which justify why you are unable to comply with the assignment deadline. You may be asked to provide evidence to corroborate your mitigation claim.

  34. 6. RECEIVING A REFERRAL The reasons for this often include: Poor referencing technique Insufficient depth using too limited a range of resources Not addressing the stated learning outcomes (automatic referral) Breach of client confidentiality by using their name Plagiarism/cheating/breach of academic protocol Grammar/syntax/spelling/referencing etc. Undiagnosed learning difference Poor time management / not using academic tutor as a resource

  35. If you or your tutor believe that you might have a learning difference, you can be referred for a learning assessment to your university Learning Differences Centre. Being referred to a centre is not a reflection of your intellect, and if you are subsequently diagnosed as being dyslexic you are in the good company of people such as Zoe Wanamaker, Steve Redgrave and Brian Conley. Most Universities offer study skills help through learning support staff – ask your personal tutor for details. You can also go to: This free resource is full of practical advice to help you study more effectively at University. Seeking More Support

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