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Book your fall 1:1 writing and learning strategies appointments!

Fall appointments are now available. Book your appointments using our online appointment booking system. Registering in our system allows you to directly book your own appointments with Learning Strategies and the Writing Centre, receive automated reminders and confirmation emails, and conveniently modify and cancel your own appointments at any time of day.

If you have questions about the online booking system, please click here for answers to frequently asked questions.  You may also email academic.success@queensu.ca, call 613-533-6315 or visit the Student Academic Success Services reception desk on the main floor of Stauffer Library, between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday (note that our front desk is usually closed for lunch from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m).

If possible, book early – get a jump on your academic success!

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Happy New Year from Learning Strategies! Are you ready?

By Chelsea Hall, 2nd-year Life Sciences student

The start of the new year marks the beginning of the winter term: you will have a new schedule, face different challenges, experience more possibilities open to you and so much more. Although new year resolutions are often hard to keep, you can learn good habits anytime.  There is no better time to do so than now!

 

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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 Library.

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#VinedYourSolution: A Learning Strategies social media contest!

Your Peer Learning Assistants (PLAs) are now on Vine!

Follow our Twitter account @SASS_LS or our Facebook account to learn some quick study tips and have the opportunity to win a great prize!

The PLAs have been making their own Vines, and we want to give you the chance to share some of yours. For two weeks in March, Queen’s students can Retweet or Share PLA Vines on Twitter and Facebook to have their names entered into a ballot. We encourage staff and faculty to participate, too, but you will not be eligible for the prize.

What is the prize, you ask? A fun Midterm/Final Exams Care Package, including our famous April exam study schedule template, hot beverages, warm fuzzies, and more. Students can also submit their own Vines to share their own personal study tips or to ask study-related questions (and the PLAs will respond!). If you create your own Vine, your name is entered TWICE into the ballot. Wowza!

Participation guidelines

  • Follow @SASS_LS to see new PLA Vines every day between January 19-30. All PLA Vines will be labeled with #PLAVines and #VinedYourSolution
  • Share your own Vine (remember to use the hashtag #VinedYourSolution) and receive two entries into the draw
  • Every retweet on Twitter or share on Facebook equals one entry into the draw. You’ll be entered for each different Vine video that you retweet or share. Retweet as much as possible!
  • The winner will be announced by Friday, February 26, using the same medium they participated with (for example, if you retweeted a video, we will reach out to you on Twitter for further details).

What should you put in your own Vines?

  • If you are making your own Vine, here are the eligible topics:
    • Study strategies that work for you
    • Stress relievers or ways to cope with stress
    • Your favourite study spot
    • How you tackle an exam
    • Remember, use our #VinedYourSolution hashtag so that we can count your entry

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Exam prep workshops and tools available through Learning Strategies!

As the end of term approaches, take advantage of the exam prep resources available to you through Learning Strategies. From workshops on  drafting an effective exam study schedule, studying and writing different types of exams, and specific prep for PSY 100, ENGL 110, and PHYS 107 exams (among others) to helpful tip sheets such as The Five-Day Study Plan and Matching Your Studying to Exam Question Types, Learning Strategies can help you develop your exam study skills.

See this page for resources you can download and register here to attend an exam prep workshop!

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Working in groups: effective strategies

Many students find group work challenging – However, it is a common part of learning at university. In this workshop peer learning assistants will show you strategies that will help make your group work effective.

Register here for this online workshop. When you’ve registered, you’ll receive a link to the Zoom session for the workshop.

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Is that something I should be doing? Finding your own learning structure

Naomi Chernos, 4th Year English/Physics

via GIPHY

Friends and peers are great resources for picking up ideas on how to study. Talking to other people about study strategies and course content, and hearing about how other people structure their time is a great idea, and I’m not about to tell you not to do it. In fact, I think learning as many different ways as possible to find academic (and general) success is incredibly helpful. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but in the face of stress and confusion of midterm season easy to forget the main caveat to this approach: someone else’s approach to studying isn’t necessarily the best approach for you.

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Online learning

Online learning is increasingly common at Queen’s, where nearly 3000 students take courses online every year. Whether you’re taking a course entirely online or one that combines on-campus tutorials with internet-based discussion and lectures (a “blended” course), online learning requires special skills.

Online courses are just as intellectually challenging as on-campus courses. You’ll still be asked to read articles and books, complete assignments on time, write tests and exams, and display academic integrity. But in online courses, you may find that your professors and classmates seem distant or absent, that your written communication skills are called on more regularly, and that your ability to motivate yourself to work independently is challenged.

This guide is just an introduction to the keys to success in online courses. You may find our modules on time management and motivation and procrastination useful. If this is your first university course, or you’re returning to education after a long time away, we encourage you to work through Academics 101, a series of online tutorials we’ve developed to help you hone essential academic skills while at Queen’s. If you need one-on-one help, SASS offers learning strategies and writing appointments online.

Keys to successGroup work & discussion boardsWhere do I go from here?

What are the keys to success in online courses?

Review the course syllabus.

As in any other course, your first job is to read the syllabus, which you should find on the course homepage (generally through your onQ portal, although some faculties use different online platforms). If there’s anything that isn’t clear or that you don’t understand, make sure you ask your professor or TA for help. Here are some guidelines for communicating with professors and TAs.

Understand the platform.

Spend time exploring the layout and organization of your online course. Refer to the syllabus, explore menus, and ask questions if you’re unsure. Avoid missing an important resource or losing marks on a quiz because you didn’t know where to find it on the course page or how it worked. You may be asked to write quizzes and exams entirely online, so if your prof plans to do a dry run of an online exam (i.e., run one for no marks), take it. It’s a great opportunity to understand how the real exam will be administered. Prepare for online exams in the same way as you would an on-campus exam.

Be an active participant.

Developing a learning community is vital for success in an online course. Think of discussion boards as virtual class discussions. They’re a chance to share ideas with peers and show professors your critical thinking. Even if the professor doesn’t comment, she is reading the thread to make sure the conversation is staying on track. Making connections with your peers can be more difficult in an online course, but it’s still important. Use online tools and helpful apps to connect with your peers and instructors. Ask questions, share ideas, engage!

Take responsibility.

You’re responsible for all of your own learning in all university classes. In an online course, where you may never meet your teachers or classmates, that’s even more true. It’s up to you to do readings, watch video lectures, complete assignments on time, and work towards mastering the course content. That might take, on average, 8-10 hours a week—more if you’re taking a condensed summer course. You might find our time management guide helpful.

Get organized.

Contrary to many students’ expectations, online courses are not easier because they appear to easily fit into any schedule. They require plenty of work and organization! Treat your online course just as you would an on-campus course by scheduling time to “attend” regularly—3-4 times a week—and to keep up with readings and homework.

  1. Manage your time

Good time management skills will help you get started, stay on task, and finish on time. That’s especially true when grades are increasingly based on a large number of small tasks, rather than a single assignment and exam. If you’re already using a weekly schedule, make sure to slot in times every week to check in with your online course to ensure you’re aware of approaching deadlines and have apportioned sufficient time to tackle them. Professors also post course updates online, so regularly logging in will ensure you’re aware of important news.

  1. Log in and accomplish specific tasks

Reviewing the syllabus and your course pages will help you know what you have to do and when you have to do it. Then, log in regularly (two or three times a week) with specific tasks in mind each time. Think of it like a regular on-campus class: sometimes you attend a lecture, sometimes you block off time for homework or reading, and sometimes you participate in a tutorial or group discussion.

For example this schedule illustrates a possible week’s schedule. In total, the plan below allows the student to spend 10.5 hours on coursework:

Morning Evening
Tuesday Start week’s readings (2 hours) Finish week’s readings (1.5 hours)
Thursday Write week’s notes
Complete weekly quiz (1.5 hours)
Friday Write group project (1 hour) Edit group project writing (1 hour)
Saturday Watch weekly video lecture (2 hours) Write three discussion board posts
Check in with group members for midterm project (2 hours)

Try planning and sticking to a schedule like this one. Your specific tasks might change over the course of the term, but if you make the commitment to log in regularly, you’ll equip yourself for success.

Expect the unexpected.

Be prepared for glitches and issues; that’s just the nature of technology. Have a back-up plan and keep copies of your work, even after you’ve submitted it. If your computer fails, you can use the computers at Stauffer Library. If you can’t get there, contact your professor to let them know about your problem.

Group work

Group work can be tricky in general, but even more so when you’re working online and can’t meet with your team in person. Since professors frequently set group assignments in online courses, try referring to the SASS guide to group work or using a helpful app (e.g., Slack, Google Hangouts, Skype, etc.) to help you manage group work online. When using apps, make sure your entire group agrees to use whichever app you choose and that you all check regularly for updates to chat threads, comments on shared work, etc.

Discussion boards

The following was developed based on the suggestions and strategies in the University of Leicester’s resource for seminar and tutorial participation.

In an online course, you’ll often be asked to explain thoughts and communicate with others solely in writing. Many online courses make participation in a discussion board or forum mandatory. You may be asked to post regularly, comment on others’ ideas, or pose questions about course topics. If this is a requirement, make sure to read your syllabus carefully for your professor’s expectations about what you’ll need to contribute. Participating in fruitful discussions is also a great way to connect with classmates and teachers whom you may never have met in person.

To ensure you are getting the most out of the discussion board format, think of your responsibility as a 3-step process: preparation, discussion, and follow-up.

Preparation

Keep up with the required coursework (e.g., readings, weekly quizzes) so you’ll be able to understand, analyse, and meaningfully comment in the discussion. In advance of posting anything, try:

  • summarizing the main ideas from that week’s readings and video lectures in your own words. Use our guide to reading and notemaking for help.
  • brushing up on relevant topics from previous weeks when necessary.
  • keeping a list of topics that would make good discussion board posts or that relate to the week’s key themes: thoughts or questions you have; tricky or unsubstantiated issues; topics you found especially interesting or surprising.

Discussion

What to say

You may be nervous about engaging in public discussion, in person or online. It can feel like there’s a lot of pressure to show the professor you’re a great student, but that’s not what academic discussion is for: the idea of the discussion is to reflect on, challenge, or constructively add to others’ ideas. If you have a thought or a question about the material, someone else may share your ideas—and they’ll be grateful when you post them. Try the following strategies:

  • Reading the whole discussion before you add a comment. It’s much easier to join a conversation if you’ve been listening long enough to know what people are talking about and what’s been said.
  • Adding simple and constructive ideas to a complex discussion is okay. Generally, the best discussions don’t arrive at an answer immediately. They take time to explore different avenues first, so it’s okay if you don’t have all of the answers straight away.
  • Sharing responsibility with your classmates. Don’t dominate or avoid the discussion boards—find a balance between leading and standing aside for others.
  • Being positive and respectful of others’ opinions and interpretations of the material.

Adhering to the following strategies will ensure your posts remain on topic, insightful and appropriate:

Acknowledgement

Link your comments and posts to what others have said, to show you’re following and building on the discussion, not just interjecting with unconnected thoughts. Use names and short, direct quotes to make it clear to whom/what you’re referring.

Agreement

Agreeing with your classmates is a nice way to start. Try something like “I agree with Will that…” or “Will makes a good point about…” Having shown where you agree, develop the discussion by adding a new connection, a point of disagreement, or showing the idea in a new context. For example:

“Yes, I agree with Will that Said was taken out of context in that case. The same is true of another text we read…”

Observation

Adopting the observation strategy involves commenting on the state of the discussion as a whole, showing that you’re appreciative of all the efforts your fellow discussants are making and that you can take a broader view of the material. For example:

“We began by discussing Noonuccal, but now we’ve moved away from that…”
“It feels like our discussion of this week’s reading has highlighted some of the key course concepts. For example…”

Offer alternative views

It can be tricky to disagree with other students, but presenting a well-reasoned alternative viewpoint shows your engagement with the material. Don’t be afraid to disagree with someone, so long as you remain civil and explain your reasoning. Start by showing you understand the point that was being made, then explain why you disagree. The explanation is crucial: it will show you’re not just arguing, you’re engaging in critical thinking, which demonstrates real understanding of your course.

e.g., “You said that Vygotsky’s theories remain relevant for today’s teachers, but doesn’t that contradict with…”

Involvement

Outstanding students try to make new points, direct the conversation, and bring other people into the discussion. Explaining the logic behind why you are trying to shape the discussion will ensure that you’re not just cutting other students off, but trying to lead the discussion towards a new and interesting place.

e.g., “I think we need to look more closely at the impact of…because…” or “What Carmen said earlier about lateral violence was really interesting, since… Do you think that..?”

How to say it

Online communication has a reputation for bringing out the worst in people. The lack of face-to-face interaction can make you feel anonymous, granting permission to behave differently from how you would otherwise. That means it’s important to participate in online discussions with a professional tone—that means both what you say and how you say it.

Remember that a discussion board is an academic environment. You are being graded in part on how you interact and communicate your ideas. Remember that once you’ve pressed send on your comment, you can’t take it back. Spend time carefully thinking about content and tone before making your comments public. The following rules usually help:

  • You should always be respectful of your classmates, your professor, and the material you are working with.
  • Find out if your professor has suggested a code of conduct or posted a guide to communication. Follow it.
  • Try to remain objective and don’t get personal. Comment on course content, not the person expressing an opinion.
  • If you feel yourself getting upset, take a break to calm down before responding. Read over your post before submitting to make sure you’re saying what you mean to say.
  • Use the strategies in the table above to keep the discussion on track and defuse potential conflict before it escalates.

If you’re struggling with how to express your thoughts in online forums, book a Writing Centre appointment at SASS.

Follow-up work

Depending on the purpose of the discussion board communications, your understanding of the course material may be enhanced and/or you may wish to re-examine or extend your readings on a particular topic. Be sure to keep track of any connections, relationships, reinterpretations, problem solving methods, or analyses that require follow-up.

Finally, remember that in an academic environment, you are subject to academic integrity—even if it’s on a discussion board. You cannot use your classmate’s thoughts or words without proper citations. (See OWL Purdue’s citation style chart for an example of how to cite discussion board posts in APA.)

Where do I go from here?

All of SASS’s services are available to students taking online courses. Online appointments with writing consultants and learning strategists can be booked here, so you never need to feel like you’re alone.

The following resources are useful guides to some of the content discussed on this page:

Queen’s provides extensive support to both online and on-campus students. The following services may be of use:

Online courses might seem like a challenge, especially if you’ve been out of school for a while, you’re juggling lots of other commitments, or you’re unused to using online tools for communication and study. Try adopting some of the habits outlined in this guide to ensure you’re in top shape for the course and, as ever, if you have questions, just ask—the staff at SASS are a great first port of call!

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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.

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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.

(more…)

Read More