Blog

New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Have to be Scary

Posted by on Jan 19, 2017 in Blog Post, Cross Post, Featured | Comments Off on New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Have to be Scary

New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Have to be Scary

By Zoe Clarke, 2nd year Bio/Music student Well, it’s that time of year – mid-January – where I’m sure many of you (including myself) are trying desperately hard to hold onto those New Year’s resolutions that you made just a mere two weeks ago. It seemed so exciting then, didn’t it? “New year, new you,” am I right?! We challenge ourselves in all kinds of ways to think of how to make dramatic changes to our current ways of life. Perhaps your first semester of university didn’t go so well, and you want to change that, so you’ve decided to double the amount of time you spend studying per week. In your head, you envision a brilliant, incredible, successful you who goes forward, aces those exams, and ends up with a whole whack-load of A+’s! Armed with some sort of incredible vision, radiating positivity, you step out the door to embrace the world! The sun is shining and babies are laughing and heads are turning and – and you’ve just realized exactly how hard it is to maintain those unrealistic goals that you have set for yourself. And this is where you give up. NO! Don’t listen to that voice inside your head! Just because you have set an unrealistic goal doesn’t mean that this has become a dead-end to greatness. In fact, if you’re struggling at keeping some of those incredible goals at this time of year, now is the perfect time to reevaluate your goals and turn them into something SMART and achievable. Here at Learning Strategies under Queen’s Student Academic Success Services, we encourage SMART goal setting which can be applied to anything you are trying to achieve, in any aspect of your life. By setting your sights on something “Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time Bound,” you will have put yourself in a much better position to fulfill those New Year’s resolutions! But what do these terms mean exactly? Well, when making a goal, you’ll want to make something specific. For instance, if you want to do better on an exam by studying more, don’t tell yourself that you are simply going to “study more than last year.” You’ll find that this type of goal is very hard to keep, as it is something that you can never really fully achieve and be satisfied about. Instead, look towards something more specific, such as planning on incorporating study time into your weekly schedule to ensure that you get a certain number of hours in per week. This leads into the next idea: make the goal measureable. If you want to study more, change the word “more” into something you can actually obtain, such as three hours per class per week. This is something that you can easily check off on a list, and that you can therefore be motivated to complete. Furthermore, when making these measurements and deciding on how you are going to better yourself, don’t sign yourself up for anything unrealistic. When your goals are attainable, you are less likely to give up on them, and more likely to want to incorporate them into your routine. A small change is better than no change, and you can always set your sights higher as your first goal becomes a habit. Last but not least, put...

read more

Get SASS(y): NOW HIRING Peer Volunteers for 2017-2018!

Posted by on Jan 17, 2017 in Cross Post, Featured | Comments Off on Get SASS(y): NOW HIRING Peer Volunteers for 2017-2018!

Get SASS(y): NOW HIRING Peer Volunteers for 2017-2018!

Student Academic Success Services is hiring volunteers for 2017-18! Join the Peer Writing Assistant, Peer Mentor or Peer Learning Assistant team * Applications due February 5th, 2017. Find the program that fits you: Peer Learning Assistants (PLAs) help students learn how to be more productive and effective learners by facilitating learning strategies workshops and providing drop-in academic coaching.   You might be a PLA if … You are passionate about teaching and learning! You are willing to enhance your public speaking skills! You’d like to be part of a community of like-minded students and staff! You want to improve your grades and study habits! How to apply: http://sass.queensu.ca/learningstrategies/pla/   ___________________________________________________________________ Peer Mentors provide both academic and personal support to fellow students in a one-on-one coaching and mentoring relationship.   You might be a Peer Mentor if … You want to provide personalized one-on-one support! You enjoy problem solving and goal setting! You want to promote university survival skills, study skills, and a healthy lifestyle! You want an on-campus volunteer opportunity that works around your schedule! How to apply: http://sass.queensu.ca/peer-support/peer-mentors/   ___________________________________________________________________ Peer Writing Assistants (PWAs) volunteer at the Writing Centre to help other students develop their writing skills through workshops and one-on-one consultations.   You might be a Peer Writing Assistant if … You want to provide personalised one-on-one writing support! You want to strengthen your own writing, editing, and communication skills! You want to belong to a fun team of people from diverse faculties and backgrounds! You intend to pursue an academic, communications, or teaching career! How to apply: http://sass.queensu.ca/writingcentre/peer-writing-assistants/   Come to a no-obligation info session to learn more and meet current volunteers: Friday, January 27th from 2:00-3:30pm in Stauffer Library – Seminar Room...

read more

NOW HIRING for 2017-2018! Get SASS(y) with the Peer Learning Assistants (PLAs)

Posted by on Jan 17, 2017 in Cross Post, Featured | Comments Off on NOW HIRING for 2017-2018! Get SASS(y) with the Peer Learning Assistants (PLAs)

NOW HIRING for 2017-2018! Get SASS(y) with the Peer Learning Assistants (PLAs)

NOW HIRING for 2017-2018! Our programs would not be possible without the generosity, enthusiasm and commitment of our student volunteers. Known as Peer Learning Assistants (PLAs), these students promote learning strategies on campus through workshops, one-on-one coaching and promotional activities. “Not only do we get that feeling of satisfaction when we help someone, but we also help ourselves by using the techniques we teach. It’s a win-win!” – PLA, 2012 We recruit in January for undergraduate students of all faculties and years to begin their work with the program the following September. Interviews generally occur in March. The job description, qualifications, and application form are available online through MyCareer; search for a position entitled “Peer Learning Assistant- Student Affairs.” You can find more details about the application process through Student Affairs – Volunteer Recruitment. To apply, please print off a cover letter, resume and a completed PLA Application form (Download form, fill in all fields, Save As… “LAST NAME,FIRST NAME – PLA Application 2017,” print a copy), and submit them to Felicia Yong in Stauffer 143. In addition, please email a copy of these three documents to learning.strategies@queensu.ca. Applications are due on Sun. Feb 5th at midnight. I can honestly say that being a PLA was by far my favourite extra curricular experience at Queen’s! – PLA, 2015 Why Volunteer With Us? “My confidence as a presenter and as a student is so much better now – plus my marks have gone up now that I am practising what I teach!” – PLA 2011 You will be trained extensively in many learning strategies (e.g. Time Management, Effective Studying, Exam Preparation, Note-making, Reading and Retention, Focus and Concentration). You will learn how to plan and deliver workshops to Queen’s students. You will learn about and practice group facilitation skills and presentation skills. You will meet other fantastic students and enjoy leadership and student development opportunities. You feel rewarded in your work with first year students and International students. References and ongoing support are...

read more

Couch to 5K Training: Syllabus week is over

Posted by on Jan 17, 2017 in Blog Post, Cross Post, Featured | Comments Off on Couch to 5K Training: Syllabus week is over

Couch to 5K Training: Syllabus week is over

By Satinder Kaur, 4th year Biochemistry student After the glorious three week break we had for the holidays, syllabus week was a nice transition into school. Though I did have a professor who read the syllabus and quickly began the first chapter. But he showed us a Kermit meme and that made it okay. All jokes aside, as week two begins, I feel as if I am getting ready to run a marathon. As the final semester of my undergraduate education begins, I find myself reflecting on the learning strategies I have applied to my school work. The one that stands out the most is creating a Weekly Schedule on Sunday nights. I have made one every week for as long as I can remember and I follow a series of steps.  Class times. I begin by adding in all the hours I have class. My favourite colour is green, so my class blocks are green to get me excited about the upcoming week. It’s all about personalization!  Health habits. This is where I schedule in exercise, lunch, dinner, and sleep. While I only need about twenty minutes for lunch, I leave an hour for dinner, sometimes two if I’m doing meal prep. I also give myself a cut off each night to ensure I get at least 8 hours of sleep!  Work. I have a job that requires me to be in the office 20 hours a week. My set office hours are the same every week, so I like to schedule these in with a new colour!  Other fixed commitments of that week. When I have meetings for group projects, a doctor’s appointment, or I’m having lunch with a friend, I schedule it in. These events are specific to one week but I make sure I add them in!  Homework. On Sunday nights, I also make a major to do list for the upcoming week of school tasks. I then schedule them in based on when I need to complete tasks. For example, a discussion post due on Friday may be scheduled in for Wednesday afternoon, with an editing period on Thursday.  Flex time. This time is for grocery shopping, laundry, hanging out with friends, or catching up on homework you may have missed during the week. Everyone learns differently and creating a weekly schedule in this way is what works for me! Knowing your learning style and understanding the strategies that will help you succeed are ways to carry on doing well all throughout your school career.   Photo courtesy of Charles Smith under Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license...

read more

What Can Star Wars Teach Us About Growth Mindsets?

Posted by on Jan 12, 2017 in Blog Post, Cross Post, Featured | Comments Off on What Can Star Wars Teach Us About Growth Mindsets?

What Can Star Wars Teach Us About Growth Mindsets?

By Ian Farndon, 4th year History/English student In The Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker visits the swampy home of Yoda to receive Jedi training. However, Luke swiftly becomes frustrated by his inability to quickly master the Force, leading him to gain a defeatist attitude that further hampers his efforts to improve himself. If you find yourself facing academic or non-academic setbacks, it is important to avoid getting yourself stuck in a rut, which could cause failure to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Therefore, I recommend that you don’t follow Luke’s example, and instead approach challenges, or disappointments, with a “growth mindset.” A growth mindset involves understanding that challenges and setbacks are stepping stones on your path to success, rather than testaments to an inability to achieve desired results. For instance, while you may have had a less-than-satisfactory outcome in the first semester, dwelling on any let-downs can foster an attitude of negativity and defeatism that will certainly not help you motivate yourself to do any better in second semester. Just look at Luke – when he interprets his training difficulties in a negative manner, he loses both faith in himself, and the motivation to continue training. Having a growth mindset is not something that you can simply switch on overnight, because re-framing your self-expectations takes time. While it’s fine to hold yourself to a high standard of performance, in regards to academics or otherwise, you should recognize that you will most likely not be able to do everything perfectly the first attempt. Rather, it’s important to accept setbacks for what they are, and think about how you will work to improve for next time. For example, you could plan to ask for help and feedback from professors and TAs to ensure you understand their expectations for course work. Or, if you recognize what you need to improve on, you could actively seek to demonstrate these improvements in the next class assignment. Having this positive mindset will make it easier, and certainly less stressful, to work towards whatever goals you set for yourself – whether you wish to lift your grades, or an X-Wing.   Photo courtesy of Kory Westerhold under Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license...

read more

Wait, when do I get to make my own MARK? A New Year’s Resolution, Inspired by Arlow

Posted by on Jan 11, 2017 in Blog Post, Cross Post, Featured | Comments Off on Wait, when do I get to make my own MARK? A New Year’s Resolution, Inspired by Arlow

Wait, when do I get to make my own MARK? A New Year’s Resolution, Inspired by Arlow

By Ann Choi, 4th Year Con-Ed History/English student Today’s the second day of class, the first week of a new semester. You may be feeling a bit nervous (I thought this feeling of anxiety – would I make new friends? Do I look presentable on the first day? – would go away in the elementary school, but even at university it’s okay to feel a bit apprehensive) or determined to improve your grades for the new year. You may wonder, “But are my grades dependent on my resolution alone? Don’t I have to be super smart to do well at university?” However, the studies have shown that your optimism and time management skills are better predictors of the academic success than your IQ. So this may be the perfect place to start if your New Year’s resolution is to do well at school – your determination is the KEY! One of the most important aspects of learning is that it’s not universal. It’s very personal. What works for one person may not work for all and it’s important to understand your own study habits. I entitled this blog post as “Find your MARK this new year” after watching a movie, Good Dinosaur because I thought it was a wonderful analogy for studying. Arlow, who is under-confident and is the smallest in the family, realizes that he can make his mark in his own way by discovering the way he works best. It’s same with studying – you can feel good about your studies and make your mark at university by understanding your learning styles. Ah, but I know what learning styles are! You say. Aren’t there three learning styles: kinesthetic, visual, and auditory? It’s true that when many people think of learning styles, these three pop up. They are a useful indicator of how you like to study: kinaesthetic means that you prefer to use your hand and engage in activities as you study, visual means that you process information better through images, and auditory means your understanding improves through lectures or audios. However, this is not all. Learning is more than memorizing: It’s about making connections and creating your own meaning out of the materials. Then how do I find my learning style? Well, there are three important questions to ask: How do you connect with materials? Do you prefer facts or theoretical concepts? Personally, I love theories. However, with the learners who prefer abstract concepts, they tend to get side tracked from their actual learning. Make sure you pay attention to details. If you are a fact-oriented learner, try to break down materials into smaller chunks and create structure to understand connections around different factual details. How do you create meaning? If you prefer learning in labs or in small groups, you may try teaching the materials to someone else and even talk to yourself at first to process the information before you do group work. Personally, I prefer independent study and find study notes such as Cornell note-taking methods and mind maps to be very helpful. You can access more information about different note-taking methods here: http://sass.queensu.ca/learningstrategies/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2013/09/Using-Graphic-Organizers-Mind-Maps-Cornell-and-More.pdf. What’s your pattern of learning? Some learners process information sequentially, which means that they build upon previous knowledge and value chronological order. Other learners understand new materials “globally” which...

read more

Welcome back! Winter term 1:1 Learning Strategies appointments now available for booking!

Posted by on Jan 5, 2017 in Featured | Comments Off on Welcome back! Winter term 1:1 Learning Strategies appointments now available for booking!

Welcome back! Winter term 1:1 Learning Strategies appointments now available for booking!

It’s time for a fresh start! You can make your Learning Strategies appointment(s) for the winter term using our online appointment booking system: https://queensu.mywconline.com/ To book your appointment: Click on an open (WHITE) appointment time to open the Reservation window. Select a date, timeslot, and consultant. NOTE: Available appointment timeslots are WHITE. RED indicates a timeslot is already taken, and BLACK indicates that appointments are not available during that time. A GREY timeslot indicates an appointment that has already occurred. To cancel your appointment: Appointments must be cancelled 12 hours in advance. Select your appointment time to open the reservation window. Scroll to the bottom and locate the check box labeled “Cancel this Appointment.” Click the “modify” button. Your appointment is now cancelled. Note that the system will not allow you to cancel if you fall outside of the 12 hours’ notice period. Failing to provide 12 hours’ notice will result in a $25 fine and limit your access to future appointments until the fine has been paid. WAITING LIST: To be notified of openings in the schedule, click on the small Clock Icon next to the date for which you’d like an appointment. You’ll receive automatic notifications when appointments become available. APPOINTMENTS FOR DISTANCE STUDENTS: If you are a distance student and would like to book a telephone appointment, please contact our front desk via email at academic.success@queensu.ca or call  613-533-6315. Please do not book a telephone appointment using the online booking system. If you have questions about the online booking system, please click here for answers to frequently asked questions. Need help or have additional questions? Call 613-533-6315 or visit our front desk on the ground floor of Stauffer...

read more

Exam Strategies? SASS has your back.

Posted by on Dec 12, 2016 in Cross Post, Featured | Comments Off on Exam Strategies? SASS has your back.

Exam Strategies? SASS has your back.

  Welcome to exam season!   Student Academic Success Services has got you covered! Make an exam study schedule, or make a professional appointment with a learning strategist to hone your skills! “Study smarter, not harder” is the cliche — but it’s true! Our “Preparing for and taking tests and exams” resources are thorough and will help you create a customized study schedule and teach you strategies for effectively preparing, no matter what type of test you face. Have you made our famous exam study schedule yet? Download our December exam study schedule with instructions! http://sass.queensu.ca/learningstrategies/decemberapril-exam-study-schedule/ Learn just about everything we’ve got on effective, efficient exam prep right here. http://sass.queensu.ca/learningstrategies/topic-exam-prep/ Looking for something short and sweet? Read our quick tips about exam prep.     Preparing for Tests and Exams Sometimes cramming is unavoidable. Here’s how to do it right (but try to avoid it in the future!) http://sass.queensu.ca/learningstrategies/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2013/09/But-What-if-I-Have-to-Cram.pdf Not sure where to start with exam prep? Try the 5-Day Study Plan http://sass.queensu.ca/learningstrategies/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2013/09/The-5-Day-Study-Plan-and-Instructions.pdf Study smarter, not harder! Get organized with our Rules for Organizing your study Schedule http://sass.queensu.ca/learningstrategies/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2013/09/Rules-for-Organizing-Your-Study-Schedule.pdf Unsure of how your marks are adding up? Fill in the Grade Calculator and find out exactly where you stand in each course heading into exams. 1000 decisions to make in just three hours? We can help! Use these effective strategies for  Studying for and Writing Multiple-Choice Exams Learn how to prepare for tests that include short answer and essay questions, and find out what your instructions are looking for when marking this type of exam. Studying for and Writing Essay Exams (also see Instruction Words for Essay and Short Answer Exams) Queen’s students in math, physics, chemistry, accounting, economics, and basic stats courses, learn three practical strategies to move away from an endless “plug and chug” approach to solving quantitative problems with Studying for and Writing Math and Science Exams   Taking the Test or Exam   Staying calm under pressure is important during exams. Learn more about coping with test anxiety http://sass.queensu.ca/learningstrategies/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2013/09/Overcoming-Test-Anxiety.pdf  Be prepared – make a plan for your exam! How to effectively time sections in your exam http://sass.queensu.ca/learningstrategies/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2013/09/Effectively-Timing-Your-Exam.pdf Math & Science exams stress you out? Overcome that anxiety with our handy Overcoming Math and Science Test Anxiety handout.   Good luck!       Image of Grant Hall courtesy of https://www.flickr.com/photos/queensucanada/27347536693/in/album-72157647792093914/  under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No-Derivations 2.0 license. Modified from...

read more

The marathon isn’t over yet: Avoiding semester burnout

Posted by on Dec 5, 2016 in Blog Post, Cross Post, Featured | Comments Off on The marathon isn’t over yet: Avoiding semester burnout

The marathon isn’t over yet: Avoiding semester burnout

By Rachael Allen, 3rd year Kinesiology student Every time exam season rolls around, I flash back to December of first year and cringe. I started out in sciences in first year, with the dreaded back-to-back-to-back exams leading to the big finale: MATH 121. I remember being so disciplined. I would arrive at Douglas Library and take the three flights of stairs down to the lowest level at 8:00am. I would work non-stop with the only breaks spent walking to refill my water bottle. I would do this until it was time to climb those three flights back up at 10:00pm, and emerge with 14 hours of studying under my belt. Every day I would dedicate myself to this intense study hibernation, regardless of the level of sleep I got, regardless of whether I had just written an exam, and regardless of my mental well being. Sounds pretty neat, being able to sit down and focus for that amount of time while retaining the information? Not so neat though, when that focus disappeared and the burn out set it. Finally, when the MATH 121 exam rolled around, I sat down at 9:00am and found myself completely distracted and unable to concentrate. I couldn’t recall the material I had studied and the reality was that I really didn’t care. I didn’t understand why my 40+ hours of “studying” left me so unprepared to write this final but I was too obsessed with the train I was boarding at 1:30 to really try. I ended up handing in my exam, incomplete and uninterested completing it, after only 90 minutes. I cabbed immediately to the train station, absurdly early, and sat for hours thinking of getting away from Queen’s and leaving the semester behind me. Since this dreadful experience 2 years ago, I have since learned that semesters are a marathon, and should be treated as such. The 1:30 train isn’t going to change, no matter if you rush or take your time getting through the exam season. Burning out can be the result of poor study habits and not enough self-care. Queen’s Student Academic Success Services and Learning Strategies has since been my primary influence in learning to avoid burn out. With resources like the exam study schedule, I am able to have scheduled breaks in my day, which allows for refocus and material consolidation while encouraging self-care. With emphasis on sleep, proper eating, and exercise, I have also learned that 14 hours of straight studying can be condensed into an efficient 9 hours when you give yourself opportunities to recharge. Above all, don’t forget that your wellness is more important than your grades. Living like a zombie and burdening yourself with stress are not they way you should be experiencing life at Queen’s. By using the learning strategies resources, you’ll find yourself able to succeed academically while also remaining motivated and happy! 🙂 Good luck to all!   Photo courtesy of Queen’s University under Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license...

read more

The Final Leg of the Race – Stress Management and Motivation Pearls to Keep You Moving

Posted by on Dec 2, 2016 in Blog Post, Cross Post, Featured | Comments Off on The Final Leg of the Race – Stress Management and Motivation Pearls to Keep You Moving

The Final Leg of the Race – Stress Management and Motivation Pearls to Keep You Moving

By: Sohaib Haseeb, 3rd year Life Sciences student It’s that time of the year again – week 12, and exams. The last eleven weeks have taken a toll on us, and studying is not what we want to be doing right now. But exams are right around the corner, and exam stress is at its all-time high. You may feel there’s nothing that can be done about the stress during this time. Assignments and papers all due around the same time, extracurricular responsibilities all cram up in week 12, and there’s not enough hours in the day to fit everything in. It’s time to take charge. No matter how stressful life seems at the moment, there are steps that we can take to manage stress and take control: 1. Steps to maintain motivation Have you ever sat down with a textbook and stared at the page blankly for hours until you finally give up? I know I have. Exam studying is one of the most daunting tasks for us undergrads – the stress of approaching exams, and the sense that we have to cram an overwhelming amount of information in our brains can have a huge toll on our motivation to study. Here are some things you can try to boost concentration and motivation, and get on with the studying that needs to be done:   Small actions add up As an ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once said, “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” – this can go a long way. Begin with a small step – prepare your study space and remove distractions – stuff like that! Take Action Practice SMART goals. Well-thought-out goals can serve as powerful motivation for us students. Write them down, avoid vagueness, and work towards completing them in a timely manner. They not only serve as objectives to keep you focused, but also provide an opportunity for extrinsic rewards. Try something new Don’t feel confined to the strategies you’ve always used. If something isn’t working, like a habit or a way of taking notes, try something else. Take things one at a time, and evaluate at the end of a task to ensure that you’ve completed the task to the best of your abilities   2. In the weeks before – Put exams into perspective All exams are important, but when time is limited, prioritization is key. Knowing which exam to prioritize can vary from person to person, but some useful techniques are to determine the % value of the exam, and to calculate the existing grade up to this point, and then determine what grade is needed to maintain or reach your goal. Study schedules are your friend. Download our Exam Prep study schedule and try to see if it works for you. If I were to go back in first year and tell my mini-me something to do, it would be to make study schedules, and to stick to them. Join a study group and self-test each other using past exams from Queen’s Exam Bank, or make your own from class material.   3. Practice relaxation daily and always look on the positive side!   It’s all too easy to overlook your health and overwork yourself, and added stress certainly worsens the situation. Try deep...

read more