Study skills and learning
STUDY SKILLS AND LEARNING
Do you feel like your time is being spent on the right things?
Tools for time management
Key skills required of a college student include the ability to plan one’s own use of time. This applies both to the division of time between different study tasks and to the division of time during study and other time. As more and more students have jobs, time-consuming hobbies or family, they also face the challenges of using time more often. In addition, many ‘invisible’ time-eaters such as social media or worrying thoughts compete for our time.
Time management is mostly about choices: because time is limited, it is important to make informed decisions about how to spend your study days. For example, the endless filing of one job always takes time from something else. Identifying your own values helps you make better decisions.
Focus on one thing at a time. Doing many things at once may seem effective, but in reality, studies show that it puts a strain on the brain and slows down the completion of tasks. Also, flickering the phone or extra tabs in the browser takes a surprising amount of attention, even if we don’t necessarily register those seconds ourselves.
Using a calendar and making lists helps move tasks from a limited work memory to somewhere where they are always on display, but not constantly in mind and concern.
Take enough breaks: for every 45 minutes of work, it’s a good idea to take a break of about a quarter. During breaks, the brain at its best is tuned in different ways, creating creative ideas and solutions.
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Does written work feel challenging? Do you feel that you do not find the essential content in the texts or that it is difficult for you to read the experiments effectively?
It is good to learn to approach writing in higher education as a process consisting of many stages. We start with the design and then go through the rough sketches to the finished ones until at the end the text is written clean and proofread. Process-like writing may at first seem like a laborious idea, but it’s usually worth it. When writing is seen as a process, it also reduces your own pressure to start and get a finished imprint at once. In long texts such as a thesis, it is usually also developmental to get feedback at different stages of the process.
Process-like writing can also help parse text. In general, when structuring a text, you should consider at least:
- At the beginning, an adequate introduction to the topic: where do you write and why? What are the basic concepts related to the topic? They should be opened if necessary.
- 1 topic / paragraph, and a presentation of the main point of the paragraph already at the beginning of the paragraph without unnecessary introductions.
- Already at the planning stage, it is good to sketch the text topic by topic, for example, to 6-12 paragraphs. The order is easy to change later and it is much easier than to edit chapters that are overly full and include too much information.
- In the final paragraph, a brief summary, possible open questions, and an expression of the need for further reflection fit this point. However, they always need to be mentioned separately.
- Using sources is part of good academic writing. Sources cause headaches for many and may feel unnecessarily bad at first. It is good to remember that sources have a purpose.
- Justify your message: who has researched the subject in the past, what is known about it, what can you rely on in your claims?
- Give credit to the thoughts of their original author: don’t even sell a painting painted by another in your own name.
If written work is difficult due to learning difficulties such as reading difficulties, it may be necessary to use various aids such as dictation.
Reading and notes
There are proven effective techniques for reading and taking notes that are worth introducing.
- Looking through the text before the actual reading creates a “frame of expectations” in the mind of what is promised. Then the content you read already has something to grab.
- Labeling and questions instead of underlining: Underlining is considered by many studies to be quite ineffective. A better way is to make notes next to the text during reading, which can be, for example, structuring the text (‘these things are related’) or marking ambiguous passages for later review. However, if you want to underline, use the underline pencil carefully and look for at most one main point in each paragraph.
- Exercises instead of immediate re-reading: Studies show that re-reading a text immediately does not help you remember it better. Instead, remembering helps if you do text exercises after reading. If there are no ready-made exercises, you can do them yourself or ask someone else to ask you about the text.
- If you find it difficult to focus on reading, for example due to attention problems, try doing something physical while reading that doesn’t interfere with the reading itself: for example, knit or squeeze light handles.
What are learning difficulties and how can they be taken into account in higher education?
The most common learning difficulties
The most common special learning difficulties are reading and writing difficulties. Dyslexia can manifest in many ways, such as slow reading or difficulty expressing in writing.
The actual finding of reading difficulty is based on more extensive research. At HAMK, research is conducted by a special needs teacher but at this time only for finnish-speaking students.
Learning difficulties can also manifest themselves, for example, in mathematical difficulties, deficiencies in motor skills, perceptual ability or oral expression. Often different learning difficulties overlap, i.e. the same person has several difficulties.
Attention problems manifest as difficulty concentrating or completing started tasks. Read more about attention problems: https://www.yths.fi/en/health-information-resource/difficulty-concentrating/
Autism spectrum and learning
Autism spectrum disorders occur in about 1% of the population. It is a neurobiological developmental disorder of the brain that particularly affects a person’s communication, interaction, and experiences of their environment. The effects of autism spectrum difficulties on learning are very individual.
Mental health and learning
Many students face mental health challenges during their studies, which can be temporary or of longer duration. Mental health problems can sometimes affect coping in studies, sometimes also directly on learning ability, for example through impaired concentration. However, mental health difficulties are many and the situations are always individual. You can support your mental health in many ways.
HAMK offers many online study opportunities. Many courses are completed either wholly or partly over the net. Courses provided wholly over the net usually cover the material studied, various exercises, online discussions as well as guided work individually and/or in groups. The exam might be completed over the net or during a separate exam occasion.
Moodle virtual learning environment is mainly being used in online courses at HAMK, but also other digital environments are utilized. Students get guidance for these at the start of their studies. Remember, however, that you need to have basic computer skills and access to an Internet connection to complete such courses. Some systems require a headset with microphone and web camera (not compulsory). If any special software is needed for an online course, notification of this will be given in the course description. Signing up for online courses is done in the same way as for all other courses.
Online courses offer you the opportunity to study without constraints of time or place. Remember, however, that the courses have their own timetables: start and completion dates, deadlines for assignments, and preset times for online discussions. Successful completion of online courses requires independence, planning, time management, media literacy, interaction skills, and taking responsibility for one’s own learning results.
Tips for studying at home from the Student Counselling Psychologist