Make the Most of Your Thanksgiving Break!

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It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving break is almost here! Whether you are staying on campus or traveling to be with friends or loved ones, Thanksgiving break is a wonderful time to relax, reflect, and recharge. While the Thanksgiving tradition is a willful, historical misrepresentation (that’s for another blog post), the holiday can still be a beautiful reminder to take a step back from our busy schedules to appreciate what we have and to show gratitude for those we love, something I personally know I should do more often.

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            While the break can be a wonderful time, it also can feel stressful for students.

When we return from Thanksgiving break there are only two short weeks of classes left before reading days and final exams begin!

It can be difficult to figure out how to balance school demands with obligations to family and friends. So that you can feel more balanced next week, we have some tips on how you can make the most out of your time off:

  1. Before you leave for break, make sure you have written down all of your remaining assignments and exams. You don’t want any surprises when you return from break! (Use one of WLRC’s semester long calendars to help you do so)
  1. Make a study schedule or calendar! Planning backwards from your major papers and exams can help stay on track. Breaking down larger assignments into smaller chunks can help them feel less daunting. WLRC has some helpful calendars for this!Picture4
  2. Look ahead. Can you spend some extra time the week before break completing any of these assignments? Getting ahead will help make your break less stressful. Knowing that a break is coming up can be great motivation to get an assignment completed.
  3. Decide what work you must do over Thanksgiving break. If possible, don’t plan on working every day. Try to spend about three to four hours a day on Friday and Saturday either studying for exams, writing rough drafts of essays, working on math problems, or reviewing notes. Make sure you have a plan for what you are going to complete during those times so that you can be as productive as possible.
  4. Whatever you do, don’t push all your work off until Sunday! That will just make you feel more stressed and will ruin all the relaxation you got over your break.Picture5
  5. Get ahead of the game! Register to attend some of the Weingarten’s study sessions to help you succeed on your final exams.
    1. Study Hacks for Reading Days” on Wednesday, 12/6, 4:00-5:00 p.m. or Thursday, 12/7, 5:00-6:00 p.m. @ the Weingarten Center
    2. Unpack and Prepare for Finals in Math & Science” – Friday, 12/8, 12:00-1:30 p.m. @ the Weingarten Center

These are some tips to help make sure you can enjoy your break without falling behind in school! If you want to work on a study schedule for the rest of the semester, stop by the Weingarten Learning Resources Center. We have walk-in hours Monday-Friday from 12pm to 3pm and on Tuesday and Wednesday nights from 4pm to 7pm (Keep in mind- we are closing for Thanksgiving on Wednesday, November 22nd at 2pm.).

However you decide to spend your Thanksgiving break, all of us at the Weingarten Learning Resources Center hope that it’s a relaxing time with friends and loved ones!

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By Staff Writer: Kelcey Grogan, Learning Instructor

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Take Better Notes: The Relationship Between Time and Memory

Many students come to the Office of Learning Resources (OLR) at Weingarten (WLRC) looking for strategies and tips on how to take better notes.

While the jury is still out on whether handwritten or typed notes are better, what we do know is that what matters more than how you take notes is what you do after with your notes.

Even if you are a student who is prepared for class and takes incredibly detailed notes, within 1 day of class, our minds forget nearly 75% of what we learned:

  • See the graph below for a visual representation of Time vs. Memory:

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  • If we don’t return to our notes until the week before the exam, we have already forgotten much of what we have learned. Instead of actually studying, we are stuck relearning the material.
  • The good news is that there is a simple solution to make sure you retain much of what you have learned during class:

Actively review your notes within 24-36 hours of class!

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  • By taking the time to review notes for just 30 minutes within 24-36 hours of class, you can reinforce what you learned and prevent this memory loss.
  • Make sure you are actively reviewing your notes (don’t just re-read or skim your notes, it’s too easy to just glaze over what you originally wrote).

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Here are some tips for how to actively review your notes:

  • Create an active recall study sheet:
    • On a blank sheet of paper, spend 5 minutes writing down everything you can from class and your readings. Then go back to your notes to fill in the gaps)
  • Annotate your notes in a different colored pen
  • Synthesize your notes into a study guide or summary
  • Use the Cornell method
  • Create a Concept Map
  • In a vocabulary-heavy class, create flashcards or a Quizlet

The hardest part of this strategy is actually fitting this review time into your schedule!

  • I recommend making this a habit by scheduling time to review your notes from the last class before you start your reading for the next class or before you begin your related homework.
  • Making this a routine will go a long way in improving your learning, strengthening your memory, and increasing your grades.

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By Staff Writer: Kelcey Grogan, Learning Instructor

Secret Study Spots: Houston Hall – Reading Room

Houston Hall

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Location:

  • 3417 Spruce Street

Building Hours:

  • Monday – Friday- 6:30 AM – 1:00 AM
  • Saturday – Sunday- 7:00 AM – 1:00 AM

Houston Hall may not be a secret spot on campus, but it can sometimes be overlooked as a convenient study spot. It’s centrally located, and it has food and snack options in the basement (always good to have close-by when you need a study break!). As the first college union building in the country, Houston Hall has a grand feel about it, taking you back to some of your favorite scenes from Harry Potter.

 

Today, we are going to review the HH106 Reading Room on the first floor, just off the lobby, but there are plenty of other spots to study in Houston Hall. Let us know if you have a favorite!

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         The HH Reading Room is comfortable and spacious. It’s a perfect spot for you to do some reading or homework during your shorter 1-2 hour breaks on campus in between classes. If you are trying to do some reading, I would recommend bringing headphones to help you focus. While it is not noisy, people are passing through.

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Our Review:

Noise level:

  • Moderate

Perks:

  • The big chairs are comfortable so that you can relax while you are reading and studying, but not too comfortable so that you fall asleep.
  • There are tables for group work.
  • The high ceilings, woodwork, and fireplaces really give you that grand, Ivy League feel, which can perhaps be an inspiring environment for you to work in.
  • There are a lot of food options downstairs for when you need a break!
  • It’s conveniently located in the center off campus, just off Spruce Street.
  • The building opens early and stays open late!

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  • Be sure to check out different spots on campus to find what works best for you.
  • Remember, different study spots may be better for different subject areas and disciplines.

Let us know if you have any suggestions for where to study on campus!

Staff Writer: Kelcey Grogan, Learning Instructor

Welcome Boot Campers

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“Writing begins when our fear of doing nothing at all outweighs our fear of doing it badly.”

     ~  Louis de Bernieres

So, how about a hearty shout-out to all the members of the Spring ’17 cohort of Dissertation Boot Camp.  Whether you are at the stage of proposing, or data crunching or actually dissertating, congratulations – you’ve made it this far, and like we’d say back in the day, that ain’t nuthin’.

For those not in the know, Dissertation Boot Camp is brought to you by your Graduate Student Center.  The boot campers resolve to arrive on-site every morning for two weeks, turn off their email/social media, and get right down to it and have at it until early afternoon.  They also get the opportunity to meet one-on-one with a Weingarten instructor to discuss their project, timelines and any unique challenges.  Dissertation Boot Camp has become a popular program, and has been running for more semesters than your blogger can count.  I mean, your humble blogger could count semesters, but that would require needless additional research, and procrastinating on the writing of this blog post by engaging in needless additional research would be setting a bad example.

For those of you who couldn’t do boot camp this semester, fret not, here are a few helpful hints from your learning center:

  • Inviolable Writing Time – Essential and non-negotiable, inviolable writing time is the basis for Dissertation Boot Camp and the “secret” to completing any writing project of considerable length. This means you set your weekly writing time and then you guard it ruthlessly.  Nothing and no one gets to intrude on this time.  If something comes up that needs time, steal the time from something else.
  • Log Off, Sign Out – Writing time can never be inviolable if you are obsessively checking email or social media. For three or four or five hours, you must remain out of the loop, away from everything that is not related to your project.  And let’s have none of that nonsense about multitasking; your project demands as much focus as you can muster.   Besides, in your blogger’s humble opinion multitasking is a sinister plot created by rogue elements in the human resources industry to make writers feel insecure about their “efficiency”.  Confirming this notion, however, would require additional needless research, and since we’ve already dismissed needless additional research, I’m moving on.
  • Visit Your Learning Center – Dissertation support is a popular service here at Weingarten. We can help you with managing the project or thinking through research strategies.  We provide you with a totally confidential, non-judgmental space.  Just think of us as the human embodiment of a hot bowl of tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich – soothing.

 

Pete Kimchuk

Senior Learning Instructor

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 Choose a Daily Planner

At the beginning of each semester we often formally or informally tell ourselves that we are going to be better about our time management. Perhaps it’s the looming reminder of the stress we endured when juggling multiple assignments at the end of the semester, or it’s the commitment to striking a better work-life balance. Whatever the motivations behind our desires to be better organized one of the first topics that come to mind are calendars and perhaps more specifically planners.

Last semester, one of our wonderful learning instructors, Victoria, discussed Google Calendar. If you’re someone who prefers digital planners I suggest you check out her post here. If you’re like me and prefer paper planners then this is the post for you.

There are many, many, many planners out there. Rather than orient you to a particular market I’ll give you some things to look out for, and an example of what a well-used planner may look like.

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PurposeBefore beginning a search for a planner think of the purpose for which you will need it: to keep track of meetings, completed assignments, study schedules, to-do lists, quick note taking. Identifying your purpose will prioritize the features you’ll find most useful. For example, if your goal is to use the planner as a central location for which to keep your work, study, and assignment schedules then having a planner with sufficient space and perhaps even an extra weekly page will be important.

Layout–Planner layouts are a deal breaker for many. A quick search for planner layouts returns more templates than could be used by one individual. They range from frilly and decorated layouts with coding stickers to plain and simple. While we not discourage the use of colorful planners–who doesn’t need a little color in their life?–we do warn you from purchasing something that although beautiful may not be functional for your purposes.

Timeline--As an undergrad I kept an academic planner (usually August-July). As a result I can tell you what I was up to on any given day in the past many(ish) years, as it pertains to school work. That worked well for me but I remember wishing I had a year-long planner during the school breaks. As a graduate student, a January-December calendar makes a lot more sense for me as my summers and breaks tend to be busier than before. If you’re looking to make a similar shift, this is the perfect time as you won’t lose out on multiple months in your planner.

Durability–Most planner are made to be sturdy so this is more of a reminder. If you’re planning on using your planner year round read planner reviews and keep an eye out for the materials. In my experience, bounded, thick cardboard covers, and thin leather covers work best.

SizeAlong with thinking of purpose, think of size. Will a small pocket planner work for you? If you plan on using it as a to-do list organizer then perhaps this is a good option. Consider how and when you will carry your planner with you: backpack on campus, purse to a coffee shop, for example.

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With that being said, here is an example from our very own Jen at Weingarten. During her search Jen stated the availability of sizes was a challenge: she wanted a bigger planner but even reliable online-sources were back ordered on the layout she had decided on. Jen, however, prioritized the layout of the planner she found indicating that “the extra page was key” for her and went with a smaller planner. Here is an example of how she uses the space inside:

Happy organizing!

Staff Writer: Erica Saldívar García

Reading Business Cases Strategically

 

Unsure how to tackle and analyze lengthy business cases? Join this lunchtime session (food provided) jointly hosted by the Natalya Vinokurova, Assistant Professor of Management, and Victoria Gill, learning instructor from the Weingarten Learning Resources Center, to share and pick up strategies to more efficiently and effectively read complex cases. By adapting your strategies to better match the purpose of your reading, you can learn more from each case and be better prepared to share those insights with both faculty and peers.

 

In partnership with:

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