Study Spot Feature: David Pottruck Health and Fitness Center

The Spring semester is progressing, and by now you are becoming increasingly aware of your own learning style. You may ask yourself, “How do I learn best, at which pace (or variation thereof), and under what conditions?”

In terms of study spaces – dorms, individual schools, libraries and even neighborhood cafes – are well utilized, and many offer a variety resources, such as lounges, study rooms (reservation required for most), tables, cubicles, cafes, kitchens, and restrooms.

Depending on your preferred study style, you may decide to mix things up a bit and alternate study spaces. For example, some people work best with a little activity and/or background noise around them. When considering alternative study spaces, you may consider factors such as familiarity, convenience, and proximity, including building time efficiencies, and fostering wellness and/or fitness.

If you are a member of the David Pottruck Health and Fitness Center, which is conveniently located at 3701 Walnut Street, you may have noticed that there is new furniture in the atrium space, as soon as you pass through the main entrance. For students who prefer to study and exercise right after or vice versa, the Penn fitness center (or your local gym) may provide an ideal alternative study-and-fitness hybrid space. Per Sarah Sarnocinski, Director of Programs, Penn Recreation, students are welcome to utilize the tables, chairs, and leather sofas to study, eat, relax and/or socialize.

 In addition, the Energy Zone café provides healthy nourishment:

Located in the atrium of the Pottruck Health and Fitness Center, the Energy Zone features a full selection of smoothies, sports drinks, energy bars, and fresh fruit. Our shakes are 100% natural with no preservatives, no refined sugars, no fat, and completely lactose free. The Energy Zone also sells locks for $5 that can be used with any day use locker at the Pottruck Center (PennRec website).   

In addition to the pre- or post-study fitness options (e.g., fitness machines, rock climbing) available at the Penn fitness center (or your preferred fitness space), there is a multi-purpose room, which is used for other fitness and wellness related functions that students can also take advantage of when available.

What is your favorite alternative study space? We would love to hear your ideas in the comments section!

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Staff Writer: Min Derry

Resolutions for a Fresh Start

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“And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!

            And gie’s a hand o’ thine!

And we’ll tak a right gude-willie waught

            For auld lang syne.”

~  Robert Burns

Have you ever wondered why, when the ball drops at midnight, nobody seems to know all the words to the song, other than the pressing question of whether or not the auld acquaintance should  be forgot, and that bit about the auld lang syne?  Well, now you know.  Above is the 5th verse (yes, really, there are five verses) in all of its Scots glory, which now allows you to feel better about New Year’s Eve, and which now allows me to type the phrase “right gude-willie waught” one more time and drive spell check into wiggly red underscore frenzy.

Go ahead:  sing the 5th verse.  You know the melody.  Give it spin.  I’ll wait here.

Fun, huh?

Anyway, now that we got the melody looping in your head for the rest of the day, let’s talk Resolutions.

The problem with most resolutions, especially those of the improving-my-academic-performance variety, is that our planning can be overly ambitious.  It’s like resolving to whip yourself into shape by adopting a plan where you work out three hours a day, seven days a week and, falling short of the lofty goal, abandon the initial resolution for yet another shameful period of slothful anti-health.  It’s supposed to be a resolution, not a guise for self-punishment.

If you’re looking to post better grades and/or learn more, start with small, simple strategies.  Let’s get back to basics:

  • Review your lecture notes after class within 24 hours. This needn’t require a massive amount of time; 20 to 30 minutes max.  Couldn’t get to the notes in 24 hours?  Don’t abandon the resolution, adjust the plan and get to them in 48.
  • Go to class.   Even if you think you don’t get anything out of lecture because A) I hate the professor  B) The lecture makes no sense and I just get more confused  C) Life is so much better in bed  –  lecture is still three hours a week with the course material.  At the very least, if you’re not replacing missed class time with study time, you’re falling further behind.
  • Read more, especially if it seems like you don’t read at all. I’m not saying read everything.  Remember the whip yourself into shape thing earlier?  Same principle.  Start with Power Point slides, or chapter summaries.  And don’t just read for the sake of reading, think about what you’re reading.
  • Come to Weingarten. Our friendly learning instructors know their way around all kinds of academics-related resolutions.  At least one of us knows what a right gude-willie waught is.

Now sing the fifth verse of Auld Lang Syne one more time.

 

Pete Kimchuk

Senior Learning Instructor

How to Make the Most of Office Hours

Office hours: It’s that thing listed underneath the professor’s contact information on the syllabus, the thing we all glance at to make a note of, but rarely take advantage of. Meeting a professor during their office hours can be intimidating, but if utilized correctly, it can be a goldmine of a resource. Here are just a few quick tips on how to make the most of your office hour sessions:

  1. (unless specifically asked to) Don’t go just to go. Set a purpose to your meeting. Be prepared to ask open ended questions or get clarification on a certain class topic while you’re in front of the professors. Make sure you aren’t asking the kinds of questions that could have been easily answered elsewhere; i.e. Google, a peer, the class syllabus, or the readings. office-hours

2. Do show up early. By arriving 5 minutes before office hours start, it’ll give you a better chance of meeting with the professor first. This way, you can make sure your questions are answered instead of having to wait around, looking for the best time to interrupt another student.

3. Do be honest. Don’t be coy if the professor is talking about something and you don’t quite understand. Admit to it and you’ll get an even better or different explanation. Also, don’t make excuses for your performance or go in attacking the professor. If there are issues academically, professionally, or personally occurring in your life, let you professor know. They are human too and they will understand and work with you to best accommodate or resolve the issue. montreal-que-february-3-2015-mcgill-university-profess

For more support on how to make the most of your office hours, come set an appointment with a learning instructor and we will work with you individually to prep you for a meeting with your professor!

Staff writer: Victoria Gill

Free Campus Coffee & Teas

Baby it’s cold outside…” so come into the Graduate Student Center for forever free coffee!

When you need a nice and warm place to study for finals or space to concentrate so you can finally get that homework/project done, GSC is swell. Observe the festive decorations and toasty REAL fire. No, my friends, it is not a mirage. IMG_0735

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How can you partake in the free coffee you ask? Easy! Just bring your own cup or travel mug and fill away to your heart’s content!

 

 

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Worried that your pickiness will get in the way of getting a free cup of Joe? No worries! There are a variety of coffees to choose from so even the connoisseurs can enjoy a cup.  This week there was Pumpkin, Hazelnut, Decaf and Colombian!

Lastly, if you’re not a coffee person, there are plenty of free teas to choose from! The GSC even has inexpensive and healthy snacks (not shown in picture but they do have fruits!) for you to buy if you’d like something to accompany your complimentary drinks. IMG_0736

So what are you waiting for? Check it out and get caffeinated (or not, decaf is good too)!

Staff writer: Victoria Gill

White Board: a study strategy

Final examinations are here and you’ve already read books, notes, and class lectures slides. But how much did you actually retain? What other ways can you study? A great strategy to test your knowledge would be to do a white board activity. This includes having a white board or simply a blank sheet of paper, and writing at the top or the center the main ideas or topics you are to be tested on, then writing down every single piece of information or knowledge you have on the topic. Doing this activity forces you to dig deep, to come face to face with what you do know and more importantly, what you don’t know.

Here is a sample suggestion on how to chunk your studying while implementing this activity:

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Let’s say you take a week to study per subject. On the first day of said studying, you can just focus on re-reading notes, lectures, books, and skimming for main ideas. Day 2, you can take active notes on all the reviewing. Day 3 can be focused on trying out practice problems on certain topics you’re weak in and applying the knowledge you’ve learned. On Day 4 you could do the white board activity, and make notes of what you still need to learn and follow that up with Day 5 of actually filling in the gaps of knowledge by reviewing again and doing problems/questions in that needed area.

Happy Studying! Come into Weingarten for more learning or studying strategies!

Staff Writer: Victoria Gill

Friday Feature: Super Secret Study Spots

Wondering where you should go this weekend to do your work? I’m here on Fridays to share local study spots that you should definitely check out if you’re on the hunt for that perfect location.

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Education Commons
George A Weiss Pavilion (at Franklin Field)
Hours: Monday-Thursday 9 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Friday 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sunday 10 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Noise level: Moderate
Perks: Rentable MacBook Pro laptops, comfy beanbag chairs, tons of reservable rooms

Education Commons opened in 2012 and is by far one of the best study spots on the east side of campus. It’s a little tricky to find if you’ve never been to the George A. Weiss Pavilion, but if you’re lost, just look for signs for the mezzanine or ask one of the friendly guards for directions (that’s what I did).

Ed Commons is known as a study spot for athletes, but it is open to all Penn students and staff members. It boasts 8 reservable spaces (including a 24-seat conference room) for study groups or organization meetings. The open area is filled with plus chairs, ottomans and tables, so you can tackle your problem sets and essays comfortably.

If you’re stressed about work or need a quick break, head over to the bean bags for a little relaxation time or to catch up with friends. Students have been known to take quick naps over there between classes due to its proximity to the School of Engineering and DRL.

In addition to being a great study (and nap) location, there is also Satellite Tutoring at Ed Commons on Sundays (Computer Science), Wednesdays (Chemistry, Physics and Economics) and Thursdays (Math) from 6 to 10 p.m.

Have a great spot that we should feature on our blog? Comment below and let us know where you study!

Tech Tuesday: Study with Spotify

Midterms may have come and gone, allowing you to take a moment to breathe but finals are looming near and fast approaching. With around 6 weeks left of the semester, it’s time to mentally get into “hyper-focused” mode. Although there are many techniques and strategies that assist you in keeping your concentration, listening to music can be a way to increase academic performance. Ever heard of the “Mozart effect” (Rauscher et. al, 1993)? The study conducted by researchers Rauscher et. al (1993) revealed that by listening to Mozart for around 10 minutes, subjects were able to significantly improve their spatial reasoning skills. In addition, according to other and more recent researchers, “listening to a pleasant music while performing an academic test helped students to overcome stress due to cognitive dissonance, to devote more time to more stressful and more complicated tasks and the grades were higher” (Cabanac, et. al, 2013).

Of course, you might not get beautiful sonatas to listen to while taking your exams, but this a nice strategy to use while studying. At the very least, it could help with decreasing stress levels. Spotify is a free music radio app that can be downloaded from their website for any electronic device (laptop, phone, tablet). Once it’s downloaded, create your own playlist with any type of music that you think will help you stay focused. Or you can go into the “browse” section and click on pre-ready made “Focus” playlists. Whatever your taste may be, you might find it. There are playlists titled from “Electronic Study Music” to “Epic All Nighters”. Who doesn’t want a soundtrack to their life and why not even during the times of intense academic work? Here are some of my favorites:

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Fig. 1: General “Focus” playlist page. Scroll down this page within the app to find a playlist you like.

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Fig. 2: The “Peaceful Piano” playlist have some of the most relaxing piano pieces for when you are working at a slower and calmer pace.

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Fig. 3: The “Cello 50” playlist is a powerful collection of some of the most celebrated cello pieces. This helps me focus but also stay pumped and motivated to keep studying/writing.

References

Cabanac, A., Perlovsky, L., Bonniot-Cabanac, M., & Cabanc, M. (2013). Music and academic

performance. Behavioral Brain Research. Volume 256:1. Pgs. 257-260.

Rauscher, F.H., Shaw, G.L., Ky, K.N. (1993). Music and spatial task performance. Nature. Oct

                  14; 365(6447):611.


Staff Writer:  Victoria Gill