So it’s that time of the semester that we all forgot about-final papers/project season. You know, because we were surviving it week by week, midterm by midterm, page by page of mostly monotonous readings? It can be daunting to begin tackling a huge and cumulative assignment when you have no idea where to even begin. Here are some strategies to get started:
- Chunking: Ever get this feeling that you are so overwhelmed by the task that no matter how much time you devote to sitting down at your desk, you just are too paralyzed to start? Don’t start off thinking you are going to do it all in one sitting. Begin by breaking down the assignment into different stages and assign yourself goals. Perhaps start off with re-reading major concepts of the course since that might inspire a certain topic or focus for your paper. Then, on another day or week, move on to researching and making connections to texts covered in the class. The point is to establish tasks that are realistic bite-sized chunks.
- Concept Mapping: Having a whiteboard (or blank paper) and some different colored markers (different color= different theme/connection) help to get all your ideas out there without the pressure of writing full on paragraphs or pages. Brainstorm with drawing if you have to! Jot down ideas and key concepts and this way, you can also work towards clarifying your arguments.
- Come into Weingarten: Learning instructors here at Weingarten have various academic backgrounds including and ranging from doctoral students, research assistants, social scientists, and academics. Having another person to help you “talk through” your scholarly ideas is a great way to learn. What it comes down to is really cliche but hey, it works: “Two heads are better than one!”
Staff writer: Victoria Gill
You may already know that the Weingarten Center is a great place to get help with time management or exam prep but here are a few things that you might not know about us.
1. We can help you set and meet study goals
Although many students aim to get good grades in their courses, a general goal such as “I want to get an A in this course” might be too abstract to be helpful. Setting more specific study goals is a great way to increase motivation and stay focused. For example, your goal might be to solve five econ problems per study session or to write three pages of an essay by Monday. Meeting these specific and more manageable goals will keep you moving along. We can help you identify realistic study goals and stay accountable for the goals you set. So, if you set a goal to write three pages of that paper by Monday, we can set up an appointment to meet on Monday or Tuesday to review your draft together or just have a check-in meeting. Many students find that a scheduled meeting gives them an extra push to get that draft done.
2. You can come to an appointment with a study or project partner
Not all studying or projects are done alone. You may be assigned a partner for a class project, or have a regular study partner for a specific course. You are more than welcome to bring these classmates with you when you come in. We can discuss strategies for group work or group study. Or maybe you and a classmate just happen to have the same question and want to come in together. We’re happy to help you both at the same time. As a bonus, you can then help each other remember what was said at the appointment.
3. You can rehearse a presentation for us and get feedback
When it comes to giving a class presentation, practice is key. You never want just to wing it. Rehearsing your presentation not only helps you get your timing down, but it also helps you increase your overall confidence. Rehearsing on your own is good. Rehearsing in front of another person is even better. A live audience can give you feedback about the strengths and weaknesses of your presentation, particularly regarding clarity, organization, and delivery. If your roommates or friends aren’t willing to sit and listen to your presentation, know that you can always rehearse it for us. Bring your laptop and run through your slides. Ask us questions. We’ll give you feedback. Or we’ll ask you questions to help you prepare for a Q&A session.
4. You can use our whiteboards
Have you been looking for a place to study with access to a whiteboard? Well, look no further. We have a large whiteboard in our study lounge and a smaller one in our computer lab for your use. All our learning instruction rooms have whiteboards too. We’ve seen students use the whiteboards to create concept maps, outline topics, and talk through ideas or problems. What’s more, a great study strategy is to teach what you’re learning to someone else. This strategy helps you pinpoint what you know and what you don’t know. So, stand in front of the whiteboard and teach us something when you come in for an appointment. We’re always happy to learn new things.
5. Our walk-in hours are held at three locations on campus
For those days when a walk over to the Weingarten Center seems like too much, it’s good to know you have options. In addition to our walk-in hours at the Weingarten Center (12 noon – 3 pm, Monday to Friday and also 4-7 pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays), we also have walk-ins at the Arch and the Graduate Student Center. Walk-ins at the Arch are on select Fridays only from 12 noon – 2 pm. Upcoming Arch walk-ins will be held on April 15 and April 22. Our walk-in hours at the Graduate Student Center focus on graduate-level writing. They are held on Mondays from 1-4 pm, and you can sign up in advance here.
Staff Writer: Julianne Reynolds
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:
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