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Incorporating Secondary Sources and Research in Essay Writing

Posted by on Mar 21, 2017 in Blog Post, Cross Post, Featured | Comments Off on Incorporating Secondary Sources and Research in Essay Writing

Incorporating Secondary Sources and Research in Essay Writing

By Crista Leung 4th Year, Concurrent Education, English Literature Major Whether you are taking a class in History, English, Sociology, or another social science or humanities field, it is very likely that an essay assignment requiring research and secondary sources awaits you. Secondary sources include peer-reviewed, scholarly articles that are published in academic journals, and are found in your course readings. Including secondary sources in a paper is important because they support the analyses you make, and can help you develop critical thinking and research skills. Writing an essay on only primary text(s) can be challenging enough; therefore, a paper that requires secondary sources may seem confusing and can add to the challenge of essay writing. But fear not, because the following tips will hopefully give you some ideas as to how you can incorporate the words of scholarly authors into your research essays.      1. Taking a Theoretical Approach. For this method, start off by thinking back to all the theories and theorists that you have come across in your courses so far. Some of the more widely applicable theories are Marxist, Freudian, and feminist theories which you can use as a lens to examine a primary text, a historical event, or a social issue. An example of using this approach might be taking Judith Butler and gender performativity (A theory I learned in a Gender Studies course) to do a feminist reading of a text in an English Literature essay. In this approach, once you have chosen a theory, you would introduce it at the beginning of your paper (in the introduction or a separate paragraph after the introduction) by explaining and contextualizing it (What is this theory about? How does it relate to your topic/ primary text?). This approach allows you to set up a theoretical framework for your analysis so that you are using your chosen theory to support your argument (McDougall). It sounded daunting to me when I first heard about using a ‘theoretical framework,’ but all it really asks you to do is use a theory to help you understand or interpret, to develop insights and analysis about a primary text or issue you examine in your essay.      2. Bringing in Critical Scholarship As an alternative to using a theory, you may want to use scholarly articles to contextualize and support your argument(s) in an essay. To do that, you would first need to select a couple of peer-reviewed articles written on your topic or primary text. If you have difficulties finding creditable sources I recommend checking out another fun PWA blog for some helpful tips: http://sass.queensu.ca/writingcentre/tips-to-get-you-through-the-research-process/.  Also, “Avoiding Accidental Plagiarism” is a workshop at the Writing Centre that offers useful tips on evaluating the credibility and relevance of sources; if you want to learn more, here is the link to the workshop slides: http://sass.queensu.ca/writingcentre/workshop-slides/. Unlike when you use the theory approach, you do not need to introduce your sources at the beginning of your essay; instead, you would bring these scholarly perspectives into your body paragraphs to give critical insights, and as evidence to support your analyses and arguments. Some common ways of incorporating these scholarly viewpoints are showing how an argument agrees or disagrees with a point you are making, giving context to your topic or defining a critical term...

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It’s that time of year…

Posted by on Mar 21, 2017 in Blog Post, Cross Post, Featured | Comments Off on It’s that time of year…

It’s that time of year…

By Anna Farronato, 4th year ConEd/Environ. Sci student It’s that time of year… the time of year when you ask yourself, “How did this semester fly by so fast?” The end is closer than it seems… the end of the semester, that is. As midterms come to end, I’m sure many of you have thought how fast the semester went by. That thought has certainly crossed my mind. And now that we are approaching week 10, it is time to start thinking ahead. What could approach even faster than midterms you may ask? FINAL EXAMS!! The last day of classes is April 7th, which may seem like a long time from now; however, it’s only few weeks away! Now is the perfect time to start thinking about preparing for the end of the semester. One of the most important things to ask yourself is, “Am I keeping up with my courses?” It is not uncommon to fall behind this time of year, as you’ll often find yourself prioritizing midterms and assignments over readings and note making when managing your time. Getting back on track might seem difficult, but it is one of the best things you can do to avoid cramming come exam time. Learning Strategies offers many tips on how to use your time effectively and efficiently. If you’ve read my blogs before, you’ll know that one of my favorite strategies is drafting a weekly schedule. If you haven’t done so already, this would be a great time to try it out! If you would like to take scheduling one step further, try making daily to do lists to keep track of day to day tasks, as well as a monthly calendar to keep track of important upcoming due dates. This should help give you a clear visual representation of how much you have on your plate and allow you to prepare ahead of time.  From here, you can start scheduling in time to catch up and complete missed readings, notes, etc. Now that you’ve got your schedules completed, the real work begins. Getting the motivation to do readings and note making can sometimes be difficult. It is important to set realistic goals and prioritize your time appropriately. One strategy that I find helps motivate me to study is scheduling “study dates” with friends. Knowing that you’ve made a commitment to meet up with a friend to study is a great way to motivate yourself. Forming study groups is also great way to motivate yourself to get work done. If you’re finding that distractions are a problem, try working in a quiet place, away from friends, and disconnect yourself from social media. Everyone is different when it comes to how they study best; you just have to find what’s best for you. Another tip is to try to switch up the courses you are reading and making notes for by breaking up your time with each course and avoiding studying one subject for too long. You can also break up large projects into manageable sections and schedule your most challenging work during the times of the day when you work best. Lastly, remember to reward yourself. I often like to reward myself after completing a successful days work with hanging out with friends, getting Cogro cake, or best...

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March Madness

Posted by on Mar 20, 2017 in Blog Post, Cross Post, Featured | Comments Off on March Madness

March Madness

By Sam Taylor, 3rd year Concurrent Education/English student Personally, I find that March can be one of the most challenging times of the school year. We are all currently experiencing the pressure of hunting for summer jobs, while applying for next year’s extra-curricular activities, all while attempting to keep up with studying and our daily schedules. Some key strategies to get through the March madness are time management, stress management, and focus and concentration. A few of the “Quick Tips for Undergraduate Students” that the Peer Learning Assistant program suggests are to set goals and priorities, organize yourself, estimate your time realistically, make up a “To Do” list, and keep track of what you accomplish. By setting goals and priorities for yourself during this busy time, it will help you to understand what the most important things are to accomplish. Organizing yourself can make you feel in control and less stressed about finishing everything. Estimating your time realistically can be done by paying attention to how much work you can do in a certain period of time. This can help motivate you to get started on the homework or applications that will take longer. Making a “To Do” list is a great way to get yourself started on all of these tasks. Finally, keeping track of what you accomplish each day can assist you in staying focused on your main priorities and objectives. I also tend to feel most stressed during the month of March. Having job and extra-curricular interviews on top of studying for tests and completing assignments, tends to leave less room for self-care. The important thing to remember during this busy time is to learn to cope with stress and give yourself time to relax. The Peer Learning Assistant program advises “Ten Ways to Relax Your Stress Away.” These are by breathing deeply, stretching by doing yoga or tai chi, exercising aerobically, taking a warm bath, getting a massage, eating healthy, letting it out by laughing, crying, singing, or talking, having guilt-free fun, hanging out with people who you can relax with, and by drinking calming liquids like chamomile tea or warm milk. By using these self-care and stress management techniques, you are fueling yourself full of energy needed to complete your goals and to do well on your objectives. March is also the month that I feel myself losing focus. That seems ironic to say when it can be one of the busiest times of the school year. But if you think about it, we have been in school now for about seven months. The rigorous studying and extra-curricular commitments can be draining. Plus, we are very close to the end of the school year, sometimes it is difficult not to focus on the light at the end of the tunnel and to be in the present. A few of our suggestions for “Focus and Concentration” are to check your health habits, focus on motivation, and control distractions. Eating adequately, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly can all help you to stay focused on the task at hand. Connecting your present activities to your short-term and long-term goals, setting specific targets, and doing your work before you have fun can keep your motivation in check. Working within your personal limits of staying focused and then...

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“Never say never; is it too late to…” try to change?

Posted by on Mar 14, 2017 in Blog Post, Cross Post, Featured | Comments Off on “Never say never; is it too late to…” try to change?

“Never say never; is it too late to…” try to change?

By Joyce Leung, 4th year ConEd/Psychology student Whether that’s changing your habits, mindset, attitude, or relationship – it’s not always going to be an easy step over. One thing is for sure though, you’re never too old (or late) to change you or anything. As a fourth year undergrad student looking back, I have changed a lot in my abilities, skills, and mindset. “Why?” When I entered university I decided that I wanted to improve, change, and learn, which is something I hope to always be doing. “How?” Namely through experience, putting myself out there, and being okay with trying and failing, but also with these ideas guiding my way.   #1.  You must recognize that it won’t be a quick or effortless change… but that you still want to try Tell yourself it’s going to be hard because it very likely will be and accept it because you’re putting yourself in a place where it’s not in your realm of the usual or familiar. That what you hope to break out of. Be ready for the challenge and difficulties, rather than thinking that it’ll be an easy, short process.   #2. You’re your own biggest critic but also… so your biggest obstacle and supporter. Once you’re okay and see that this will be outside your comfort zone know that it’s you who can come up with the excuses but also that you are the only one who can get this done. I learned that I truly am the only one who can change yourself. This is incredibly true if I think back to the times my mom nagged me to change my habits to the when I personally put my words (not hers) into action finally. I did that because I wanted to change myself for myself. No one can make it happen, just you.   #3. Be real with yourself. Make a plan. And revise it until it works. You know what you are like when you’re at your best and also at your lowest. Make a plan that will work with you and that will also get the work done. Create realistic milestone goals that build up to your ultimate end goal that suits your style, while it still pushes you. Write down what it will look and feel like if your plan is working so you have cues to look out for. Afterwards, write down all the things stopping you or that have stopped. That might be the difficulty in finding time in your busy schedule, which may be the reason you’ll stop. Or that you remembered the last time you tried this you gave up part way because it just wasn’t working out. Once you’ve listed down the barriers and obstacles, dedicate realistic solutions that will help you overcome them. That may be devoting a page or a notebook to track your progress or designing a plan that only takes a few minutes a day to fix that time issue. Or writing down what you would tell a friend if they wanted to give up or asking friends to help you with this mission. Don’t forget or lose sight though. Be aware and attentive to your plan. Celebrate the small victories because that is progress adding up! Count the small steps – don’t expect...

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Self-Care and Mental Health – Taking Care of YOU!

Posted by on Mar 13, 2017 in Blog Post, Cross Post, Featured | Comments Off on Self-Care and Mental Health – Taking Care of YOU!

Self-Care and Mental Health – Taking Care of YOU!

By Jessica MacNaught, 3rd year ConEd Linguistics/French student Take time to take care of the most important person – yourself.  As all students know, it can be hard when you need to balance school, extracurriculars, and a social life. Sometimes it can be difficult to remember to take care of yourself physically – to eat, sleep, and exercise enough to be healthy and feel your best. But what about your mental health? Mental health is something we all have, and something that it is important for all of us to remain conscious of, even during stressful times such as midterm or exam season. It is very easy to get caught up in a hectic schedule and feel overwhelmed. However, it is always important to remember that your health is more important than anything else, and your mental health is just as valid as your physical health (and sometimes they can be interconnected)! One way that you can take care of your mental well-being is to ensure that you practice effective self-care. Self-care is the act of doing something that makes you feel rejuvenated and at peace in order to maintain a healthy mind and soul. Self-care can be anything that makes you feel happy – whether it’s going for a jog, watching some Netflix, spending time with your pet, calling a friend, colouring, or more! Try to schedule in some time just for yourself each week, where you can check in with yourself and take care of YOU, the most important person. There is a great resource from Queen’s Student Academic Success Services (SASS) that can help to reflect on how much you are taking care of yourself. You can find it here.  This sheet showcases a number of ways you can care for yourself, and look out for yourself (for example, asking for help from others or saying “no” to requests when you know you don’t have time) and allows you to evaluate your use of these methods. Using this resource made me aware that I wasn’t really taking the time to make sure that I was caring for myself as much as I needed to. When I took the time to reflect and take care of myself, I felt more peaceful and more productive. Another way to improve your mental health is to avoid stressors as much as you can. If you know that a situation makes you feel negatively, work towards avoiding or at least preparing for that situation. For example, If speaking publicly makes you nervous, you can minimize that anxiety by preparing in advance for a presentation – there are some really great public speaking resources here. You can write a script, practice the presentation with friends, or ask your professor if you can present to them one-on-one. As for myself, I get anxious about forgetting what I am doing next, so I use a schedule on Google Calendar to plan my day so I know I won’t miss anything important! Another way to make self-care a priority is to add it into your schedule.  I use cooking and baking as a form of self-care, and it makes me feel relaxed and productive, but you might like to do something else – and that’s okay, because there is no one way to practice self-care!...

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“How to Study for…” Winter Workshops are back!

Posted by on Mar 13, 2017 in Cross Post, Featured | Comments Off on “How to Study for…” Winter Workshops are back!

“How to Study for…” Winter Workshops are back!

“How to Study for…” Workshops are back! You asked and we answered! “How to Study for …” Course-specific Workshops are back in time for April exams brought to you by the Peer Learning Assistants. What are the “How to Study for…” Workshops? Learn about course-specific study strategies from experienced, upper-year students who have taken these courses in first-year. What are they not? The workshops are not course-cram and do not cover course material. When and where are the workshops? Course Specific Workshops: Winter 2017 BIOL103 Wed April 5 @ 7:00-8:30PM  CHEM112 Wed Mar 29 @ 6:30-8:00PM ENGL100 Wed Apr 5 @ 5:30-7:00PM FREN150 Mon Mar 27 @ 6:30-8:00PM HIST121/124 Thu Apr 6 @ 6:30-8:00PM PHYS117 Tue Apr 4 @ 7:00-8:30PM PSYC100 Tue Mar 28 @ 5:30-6:30PM   Where: All workshops are located in Stauffer 121  ...

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Exercising a Growth Mindset

Posted by on Mar 6, 2017 in Blog Post, Cross Post, Featured | Comments Off on Exercising a Growth Mindset

Exercising a Growth Mindset

 By Sam Werger, 4th year History student “We cannot choose our external circumstances, but we can always choose how we respond to them.” -Epictetus University can be many things to many people. For some it is an opportunity to leave their small hometown for the bright lights of the big city. For others it’s a chance to make new friends and meet all kinds of new people. A person’s university career can be a chance to learn about one’s self and grow emotionally, physically, and mentally. University is perhaps the best opportunity many of us have to develop our skills and generally improve ourselves. Growth at university depends largely upon one’s ability and willingness to exercise a growth mindset. What is a growth mindset? Well, a growth mindset is the opposite of a fixed mindset. For example, someone with a fixed mindset would see a failure as the end of the road and might give up when they have failed. In contrast, someone with a growth mindset will see a failure as an opportunity to learn and grow. Failure is an inevitability (unless you’re some sort of super-human in which case you can probably stop reading now) but it doesn’t have to be the end of the road. I’ve certainly failed to achieve certain goals I’ve had and failed to live up to my own expectations of myself. I’ve made mistakes academically and socially. And yet, as I look forward to the last two months of my undergraduate career I can say with certainty that my time at university has been a success. I was able to succeed because I didn’t allow my failures to define me. I maintained a growth mindset and viewed my failures as stepping stones towards a greater success. Every time I failed I also got a new lesson. Every time I didn’t do well on a test or paper I learned what it takes to succeed in school. Every time I was disappointed in myself I learned a little bit more about what I want to achieve in life. Through my failures I have gained perspective and learned lessons that helped me eventually succeed. So the next time you fail to meet your goals don’t look at that failure as an end. Don’t even look at it as a failure. Instead, look at it as a lesson and a stepping stone on the path to success. Growing depends upon our view of things, not the things themselves. For more on Growth Mindsets click here.   Photo courtesy of The Library of Congress under Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license...

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Get your Head in the Game: 5 Ways to Deal with Distractions

Posted by on Mar 6, 2017 in Blog Post, Cross Post, Featured | Comments Off on Get your Head in the Game: 5 Ways to Deal with Distractions

Get your Head in the Game: 5 Ways to Deal with Distractions

 By Sunny Zheng, 3rd year Life Sciences student As a Peer Learning Assistant (PLA), one of the most common questions students approach me with is, “How do I deal with distractions?” Good question. This is something that everybody seems to struggle with, even us, PLAs. Unfortunately, there is no miracle solution that will help you avoid all distractions. However, there are several simple strategies that can help you be less distracted and I will provide you with 5 of them below.   1. Save your hardest work for your best time of day Do your most difficult assignments during the time of the day that you feel most alert. You will least likely be distracted during this time, so it makes sense to save your work for then. For me, this is early morning, after a refreshing sleep and before getting drained from the activities of the day. For others, this time may be in the evening, when you feel more relaxed.   2. Distraction pad Have a little notepad beside you while studying and every time you get distracted with a thought, write it down, then push it aside for later. Distracting thoughts can be anything from remembering that you still have another assignment to complete, to daydreaming about your next meal. Later on in the day when you have some free time, you can review your distraction pad to see if any of those thoughts were important and needed to be addressed.   3. Work within your attention span Do you ever find yourself working for so long that your mind becomes hazy and you realize that you’re reading the same paragraph over and over again without absorbing anything? Instead of getting frustrated about losing focus, learn to work within your attention span. Figure out how long you can stay focused before your thoughts start to wander, and then divide up your assignment into chunks lasting that period of time. You should also take breaks in between your work sessions! Breaks provide a chance for you to recharge your energy. As for me, I like to use the 50/10 rule, where I work for 50 minutes and then rest for 10 minutes.   4. Unplug! A huge distraction for students these days is social media. Many people have found that the best way to avoid this distraction is to remove all technology from sight. Like they say, “out of sight, out of mind!” Try setting your phone on silent and then putting it away. If you don’t need your laptop, hide that as well. Without seeing electronic devices, you will be less tempted to check social media. If you must work on your laptop, however, try keeping only those tabs you need and closing all irrelevant ones, like Facebook and YouTube.   5. Blocking social media with apps! If you find it difficult to control yourself from checking social media websites while studying, don’t worry because there are apps that can help you with that. For example, “Self-control” is an app offered on Macs that you can use to block certain websites for as long as you choose. If you’re a PC user, there is a great Google chrome extension called “StayFocused” (Mac users can use this as well) that allows you to restrict the amount of...

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Checking in After Reading Week – Completing the Marathon, but in a Proactive Way

Posted by on Feb 28, 2017 in Blog Post, Cross Post, Featured | Comments Off on Checking in After Reading Week – Completing the Marathon, but in a Proactive Way

Checking in After Reading Week – Completing the Marathon, but in a Proactive Way

By Sohaib Haseeb, 3rd year Life Sci student It’s hard to believe, but we’re halfway through the semester. Reading week is now over, we’ve had a chance to relax, take a break from the school’s stress, but it’s time to get back in the swing of things. If you’ve got a busy schedule ahead filled with midterms, assignments, and papers, it’s hard to stay calm, and panic overtakes us, but don’t worry, you’ve just had a fulfilling break, and there’s no need to dread about fitting everything in your lives. It’s time to take charge. No matter how stressful the upcoming life might seem, there are steps that we can take to manage stress, but more importantly, to keep up on work but have fun at the same time. Be mindful, maintaining a healthy balance in life is important for our well-being and day-to-day satisfaction. How do we achieve a balanced lifestyle in the midst of our heavy schedules? Here are some tips and tricks I use to maintain balance and manage stress: Believe it or not, taking a break from school and work and having a nice walk in the park, or socializing with friends can have a big impact on our productivity. Making time for just ourselves is so hard it seems, but it’s essential for lowering stress and being happy and healthy. We need to learn to give our minds and body a rest! My mum always says, “Pay extra attention to your health and put the right fuel in the body.” Stay proactive, watch what you eat, and don’t skip meals, because speaking from personal experience, a health crisis is the last thing we need in our busy lives. Stress is a daily part of life, but don’t let it get to you. It might seem that school work keeps piling up and there is nothing we can do to reduce the burden, take each day, step-by-step. This is essential to managing stress, and being healthy. Prioritization is key, but staying on-top of it is what really makes the difference. Try monthly or weekly calendars, keeping an agenda, and reassessing your workload every day. We’ll always have more work than we can fit in a day, but breaking it down into small chunks and prioritizing each task can put a lot of structure to our day, with the added bonus of reducing stress. Lastly, reward yourself and try to find positives in the day. Tell yourself you can do it, because you can – we all can! We’re all at Queen’s University, and that in itself is a big achievement! We are all trying our best to do the tasks at hand in the time given, and that’s all we can ask of ourselves. For more information on wellness and stress, visit our Health Promotion friends at Student Wellness Services!   Photo courtesy of Christopher A. Dominic under Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license...

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Stauffer Marks the Study Spot…? Not Always!

Posted by on Feb 27, 2017 in Blog Post, Cross Post, Featured | Comments Off on Stauffer Marks the Study Spot…? Not Always!

Stauffer Marks the Study Spot…? Not Always!

By Sophie Lachapelle, 3rd year Health Studies/Devs student Most students know – from experience – that a study spot can make or break a study session. If you’ve been around Stauffer Library lately, you know finding a place to study in that building is like trying to find a needle in a four-floor tall haystack full of books. Finally tracking down one of those study carrels is like finding buried treasure. Okay, maybe not, but when you’ve been searching for a place to sit for 30 minutes, finding a study spot is pretty close to striking gold. Luckily for us unlucky study-spot searchers, Stauffer Library isn’t the only place to cram for that up-coming exam. “Where else can I go,” you ask? Let’s go on a treasure hunt for the best study spot. Let’s look at a map of campus.   The first thing to do when trying to find a great study spot is to do a Study Area Analysis of different places on campus. Ask yourself true or false questions about different study spaces to see if it works for you. Some of these statements can include: T or F     Other people often interrupt me when I study here          T or F     Much of what I can see here reminds me of things that don’t have anything to do with studying T or F     I am often distracted when I study here T or F     I take too many breaks here T or F     I find it too warm or too cold to study here T or F     There isn’t enough light to study here T or F     There is too much/not enough noise here The list can go on, depending on how you prefer your study spaces to look or feel. The biggest thing is finding a place that will allow for distraction-free studying. In my first year, this place was my room in residence. I had a single room on a relatively quiet floor with the perfect amount of white noise from the construction outside. But a lot of my friends found there was too many distractions in residence or at home; if you’re like my friends, cross home off of the map – you won’t find your treasured study spot there. I also prefer a fair amount of background noise when I study, so the basement of Douglas Library and the study rooms in Bioscience were not ideal for me. I crossed those places off of my map. Hunting for a study spot is a process. It can be long and arduous, and you may encounter many adventures along the way – like getting lost in the maze that is Mac-Corry Hall or confronting giant squirrels living in the trees around Summer Hill House. If you need some inspiration, here is a list of study spots that we at Learning Strategies have compiled from student suggestions: Basement of Bracken Library: Completely silent with a café close by! Common Ground: Pleasantly noisy with lots of treats. The Tea Room: Lots of light, noise, and tea. Lounge space in the ARC: Great space to sprawl out your studying supplies. Coffee Shops in Downtown Kingston: Gives you a break from campus and supports local...

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