ECH 1200 Study Skills Summative Essay
The aim of this essay is to give the reader an overview of the types of academic study skills that I develop for the course of Foundation degree in early childhood studies. In it I will discuss my personal approach to study and the strategies I need to use on the program. The essay will highlight the skills I feel are my current strengths and draw attention to the areas I need to develop. I will briefly describe and evaluate some different research skills and reflective techniques I used to understand how I can improve my learning experience and my study skills in order to study more proactively. ‘The study skills needed for Higher Education are ultimately gained only through studying at that level’ (Cottrell, 2008) To begin with, from learning style questionnaire from classroom helps me to identify different learning styles and my own preferred learning style as Pragmatist. ‘Understanding your individual learning style will help you choose the most effective learning activities for you. This does not mean that you cannot learn from activities that are not specifically suited to your own style, but your preferred style will maximise your opportunity to learn.’ (Honey & Mumford, 2006) As I entered in this course as a mature student with a great challenge of learning from diploma level to higher level, from the Hopes, Fears and Expectations exercise gives me opportunity to identify my expectations from course and expressed my fears and hopes from the course. However, I approach my presentation skills with motivation and to facilitate during presentation preparation time I used good oral communication, team working skills, ability to get on with people from different background and ability to understand others point of view which I learn from my experience of working with diverse people. Furthermore, I develop research skills by using Middlesex University’s Unihub-My library online resources website and i-learn website to identify and investigate relevant sources of information including subject books, journals, e-books, research reports, magazines, tutorials and evaluation to enable me to give valid argument for or against opinions raised by theorists, tutors and other students. ’Discussion is important part of learning process, as it helps everyone to clarify their understanding and direct their individual learning.’ (Ritchie & Thomas, 2014) Furthermore, to improve my presentation skills I have to consider number of factors. Firstly, I need to learn from mistakes and improve my ICT skills to use power point. In addition, I need to become reflective learner as learning from six steps of Gibbs model (1988) helps me to review the situation and make improvement to work with team. Together with, I have to take feedback from my tutor and peers to develop time management skills to deliver presentation in a confident manor to create an overall engaging presentation with audience. ‘Audiences do not react well to speedy delivery of material. Your presentation will suffer if you try to get through it too fast. It is not always a matter of going slowly all the time. It is usually about knowing when you need to slow down and when you can afford to speed up.’ (Moore, Neville, Murphy & Connolly, 2010) From the study skills formative report writing and summative essay writing assignment experiences give me opportunities to expand my academic skills these includes as before the course I was unable to think critically when I am reading and when writing to put words together in my writing within limited time period of time, I was starting to lose words of thought. Therefore, I review my reading skills and I evolve good reading skills after finishing skim and scan practice exercises in the class room together with learning SQ3R ( survey, question, read, records and relevant) techniques which is vital for me to do a lot of research and gaining understanding of subjects. ‘Depending upon the reading task required by the text student has to aware of all four main reading techniques and has to use best. Four main reading techniques are, skimming, scanning, intensive and extensive.’(James, M., 2012.) I start to using the speed reading techniques and scanning for key words. This technique ensures that I can read as many articles as I can in a limited amount of time. During the course of assignment I gathered information from books, articles and journals by going through this practice my reading habit has enhanced a lot and reading more has also improve my knowledge about particular topic. Another important learning through this is that the more I read different articles and books it enhances my vocabulary and creative writing skills. Prior to getting into reading habit, my vocabulary and writing skills was week but now if I find I am not aware about any topic or I lack in any information then I search for the particular topic and learn about that topic. ‘The advantage of reading is that you can search through text that is useful for you for own purpose. You can revisit and refocus on various aspects of the reading as the main ideas or argument become clear to you.’ (Moore et al., 2010). The reading habit has made books my friend and through this I enhance my knowledge about different subjects and topics. I develop note taking skills from the classroom exercise. Using mind map is essential to the development of my academic skills. This skill helps me to recognize the key points and questions and to create a diagram linking the key points and ensures that I did not stray from the these includes note taking by using linear as well as mind mapping techniques so I can remind myself of any key points raised in the sessions. ‘Effective note-taking from lectures and readings is an essential skill for university study. Good note taking allows a permanent record of relevant points that you can integrate with your own writing, and that can be used for exam revision. Taking reliable, accurate notes also reduces the risk of plagiarism. It helps you distinguish where your ideas came from and how you think about those ideas.’ (Northedge, 2005)
Furthermore, the course has given me a great opportunity to develop and understand my academic skills more effectively. I have been able to focus and read effectively through the course handbook, looking at the headings and in each activity understand the titles. I can now think about the questions, key points and how to answer them. Before the course, I write essays without knowing how to structure it. ‘The structure and organisation of your work is just as important as the content. What matter is not just you know but the way that you organise it.’ (Cottrell, 2008) My writing style has improved and I have been able to stick to a set of writing style, enabling me to return to my work as well as pick up where I have left off without losing words of thought. I can now think about the questions, key points and how to answer them. ‘Critical thinking is necessary to learning. One cannot process information, form reasoned opinions, evaluate beliefs, construct positions, or articulate a thesis without the use of critical thinking. As such, the critical self is integral to learning itself.’ (Warren, 1995). I establish my understanding of structuring report and essays as well as from the peer assessment, taking feedback from tutor and another student I reflect myself from positive criticism to improve my work together with grading system from the assessment grid exercises in the session. ‘A reflective, active, self-evaluating approach to learning develops deeper understanding in the long term’ (Cottrell, 2011) In addition, course has improved my database searching ability to access important articles, studies and journals relevant to the course through the online information resources. Prior to this course during my study for Level-3 in 2010 year, I have very little knowledge about Harvard System of Referencing and plagiarism. ‘In academic writing, it is essential to state the sources of ideas and information. By giving source you make it clear to the reader that you are not plagiarising someone’s work.’ (Cottrell, 2008) Although, during the group presentation time I have the opportunity to discuss referencing guideline with my fellow students during our meeting time in library and also done some research about how to reference within essay or report and how to add to Bibliography or Reference lists by using Easy bib App and from the classroom practicing with group I learn very quickly how to undertake research from a variety of sources and referencing them correctly. Although during the formative report writing exercise I had done some mistakes in referencing within my work and also adding it up in the Bibliography. However, tutors feedback help me to improve my understanding about my referencing skills and made progress by learning from classroom tutorial by using Microsoft Word software. In order to improve my English grammar and usage of correct spelling skills which is vital for writing any assignment, at the beginning month after getting admission in the Foundation degree I booked myself for initial assessment for my ability for maths and English skills in in that bskb assessment from Southgate college. As a result my working level in Maths along with English came as level-2 and level-1. I am using Microsoft word to check spelling and grammar together with taking feedback from fellow student and tutor from peer assessment exercise I am planning to improve my English language skills by Studying GCSC of English as I could not able to address this issue within the time prior to all places fill it up now planning to study next year in my local college. ‘It is difficult to get the higher grades at college if your English skills, such as grammar and punctuation are week. It is worth to investigating any language workshops at the university or at a local College of Further Education. (Cottrell, 2008) On other hand, the ability for me to manage my time is the key to addressing the pressure that I will likely face, managing to cope with my studies and going about my day to day activity. Being a parent with two children, working full time and studying, I thought it wise to commence writing my assignment early as I had last time serious problem of time management and finishing my assignment within the deadline as some issue raised regarding my children’s health. From my previous experience of studying, I begin to develop skills to break down task in small scale and defining time limit to achieve time limit. Time management exercise from classroom open my eyes as how much I am wasting my time as unnecessary task such as cooking long time and watching unnecessary T.V program together with comminuting for study long distance from home. To improve time keeping now I decided to keep some study resources and my device when I am travelling. ‘Break goals down into their components so that you can accomplish them one step at a time. Write these steps down, and try to be as specific as you can when you do this. Try to complete one task before you go on to the next.’ (How to manage your time effectively, n.d.) The feedback from my elearning tutor through the discussion blog has enabled me to recognise my strength and weaknesses. Reading the comments by the tutor via blog, I was able to identify some errors and key points omitted in my activities. For example my elearning tutor commented on my referencing in activity one and I learnt from that and make amends.
In brief, from this course I develop my note taking, critical reading, writing report and essays and presentation skills. In addition working in the group as well as working as an individual, research skills and I.T skills. In Future I need to continuous practicing my reading and writing skills to develop analytical thinking skills, getting confidence to be present my ideas in the group work, continuous reflecting my own study skills and developing further more my English language skills by going GCSC. Together with learning from feedback from the tutor to improve my work. In like manner, to improve my concentration I must improve my work environment by making it more comfortable. Distractions must also be shut out as much as possible (e.g. TV, Radio). I must keep a positive mental attitude for the task and remember my purpose for studying and my ultimate goal. Moreover, I need to construct a weekly timetable, filling in my activities in order of priority and my study time. I also need to organize a diary which holds all my daily appointments and long term dates to avoid time waste and to manage my time effectively. Bibliography:
Cottrell, S. (2011). Critical thinking Skills Developing Effective Analysis and Argument. Second Edition. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Cottrell,S.(2008). The Study Skills Handbook. Third Edition. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Honey,P., & Mumford,A. (2006). The Learning Styles Helper’s Guide. Maidenhead: Peter Honey James, M., (2012). How to learn. Retrieved November 20th , 2014 from http://www.how to learn.com. How to manage your time effectively. (n.d.). Retrieved November 26th, 2014 from http://www.kent.ac.uk/careers/sk/time.htm McDonald,K. (2012). how to learn. Retrieved November 21, 2014 from www.how to learn.com/2012/08/different-reading-techniques-and-when-to use-them Moore,S., Neville,C., Murphy, M., & Connolly, C. (2010). The Ultimate Skills Handbook. Maidenhead: Open University Press. Northedge, A. (2005). The Good Study Guide. Milton Keynes: open University worldwide. Warren, K. (1995). The critical self. Perth: Murdoch University Ritchie,C., & Thomas,P. (2014). Successful Study Skills for teaching assistant and early years practitioners. Abingdon: Routledge ltd. Wanner, K. (1995). The critical self. Perth: Murdoch University.