INSIGHTS INTO STUDY SKILLS. Chapter 1. Colin Rees & Alan Glasper. Introduction . This presentation will help you understand the key principles for successful study. In particular it will help you explore: Different learning settings, including e-learning Time management Writing skills
Colin Rees & Alan Glasper
This presentation will help you understand the key principles for successful study. In particular it will help you explore:
Wherever you are learning, work together as a team!
People vary in their skill and familiarity with the computer. Although some may find it intimidating, the best plan is to make the computer work for you. It can help you with:
Have a clear ‘system’ to record key events, times & places such as lectures, seminars, & clinical placement details
Do not wander aimlessly through the library. Organising your time is one of the most important skills to develop early in a course
Tips for note-making would include:
Write main words or key phrases to trigger your memory on important aspects of a session. Making notes on key points can also help to keep you ‘tuned-in’ to lectures
Do not write down the content of PowerPoint presentations. This will usually be made available to you, either as PowerPoint notes, or for download from the University site. These are often available before the lecture
Consider using ‘mind-maps’ or ‘spider-diagrams’, rather than linear notes. The visual aspect of this can be a big advantage as you can see the ‘whole thing’ at a glance
‘Remember to write your own ideas & questions during lectures, to follow-up later. Expand lecture notes with material taken from books and articles, and add your own reflections and pointers
Michaels J and Owen D (eds.) (2008) Professional Education in Health Care (2nd edn.) Oxford: Blackwell.
Note that the reference goes right across the page and starts underneath the previous line. The parts are not presented on different lines, have gaps in them and names are not all capital letters.
Johns M (2008) Assessing pain in the young. In: Davies O (ed.) Pain and its Treatment. London: Routledge.
Hauxwell B (2008) Study tips for students. Nurse Education Today. 16 (4) 26-30.
You cannot complete an assignment without conducting a literature review.
Selecting the first article you find on Google is not sufficient. You will need to demonstrate that you have systematically searched the available literature for material to help you to answer your assignment guidelines.
Keep a note of:
Key words you used to search databases
The names of the databases or search engines you used
Time frame; that is the years between which most of the information was gathered
Inclusion and exclusion selection criteria, if you specifically searched for information from certain countries or aspects of the information, e.g. including information about relatives or carer’s as well as patients/clients
Critiquing has been defined by Rees (2003) as ‘the careful consideration of both the strengths and limitations of a published piece of research’. It is not simply ‘criticising’ or being very negative about a study.
It is important to critique following a systematic structure. There are many available but the following, taken from the chapter on insights into study skills, is a simple and effective framework. The framework you use should be stated in your work.
What was used to collect the information? Questionnaires, interviews, observation, assessment scales, physiological measures? If it is quantitative research, did they pilot the method? Did they consider the accuracy of the tool in terms of reliability and validity, what has actually been measured by the tool? (Qualitative research works a little differently, and you need to refer to the research textbooks for more on this.)
Was it considered by an ethics committee (LREC or if American an IRB)? Did they get informed consent? Were possible risks to the individual considered?
On how many people are the results based? How did they choose them? Were there specific inclusion and exclusion criteria used to select people? Did anyone drop out of the study, or what percentage response rate did they achieve. Do you feel they were typical/representative of that group?
8. Data presentation
How did they process the information collected? How do they present this information to you? Is it understandable like this? Is it explained?
What data answers the aim (the results).
What sums up the answer to the aim,in the author’s own words.
What do they suggest should happen now - who should do what?
Did they make it easy to read by explaining technical aspects? Was it interesting?
13. Strengths/ Limitations
Summing up, what were the good aspects of the method and what were the weaker areas of how they did it?
14. Implications for practice
What do you feel are the messages for practice? What is the ‘so what?’ aspect for you?
The use of numbers and statistical processes in research articles intimidates many readers. Do look at the figures and try and work out what they show. Usually the writer will explain in the article what the numbers represent and their interpretation of them. The use of numbers and statistical processes in research articles intimidates many readers. Do look at the figures and try and work out what they show. Usually the writer will explain in the article what the numbers represent and their interpretation of them.
Following a few simple rules will help you get a good mark:
Write an assignment plan using ‘Beginning/Middle/End’ as a rough structure – these headings will not be used in the final version but will help in the early stages of the work
Gather material to slot into the various sections that meet the prescribed learning outcomes. This is crucial!
Write a first draft
See your group/ personal tutor/supervisor if needed.
Edit the draft into a final version
Check you have followed the assignment guidelines with appropriate weighting for individual learning outcomes & check you have answered the question within the word limit
Carry out a final check for simple errors, and ensure that all references are complete and accurately presented
Submit in the university agreed font style & spacing. Avoid exotic font designs – this is an academic assignment not a comic book!
Write both the assignment question or aim and the specified learning outcomes on a paper or card and place it where you can see it when you are writing. This will keep you focused and stops you drifting aimlessly through the work
Don’t go for easy answers, repeating what you have already heard in lectures. Be creative or at least ‘thoughtful’
Think about the question and what the topic means to you
Gather examples to support your statements and add definitions where specialist words are used
Make the major part of your references as up-to-date as possible
Use a variety of books & journal articles to show you have read around the subject. Do not rely on textbooks alone!
Each time you mention an author, add the reference to your ‘References’ section at the end of your draft. That way, when you have finished your draft you have also finished your references section!
It is essential to back-up your work frequently with a data stick or similar. There is nothing more upsetting than completing a lot of hard work and then losing it!
Take care over spelling, grammar, punctuation and referencing. Mistakes can lose you marks. Make sure your automatic spell and grammar checks are switched on to ‘English UK’ & not ‘English US’
Don’t overuse ‘cited in’, that is, where most of your references come from someone else’s work
Endeavour to avoid overusing quotations unless they have strong irrefutable provenance, for example Nightingale’s “Children: they are affected by the same things [as adults] but much more quickly and seriously.” p72
Nightingale F, (1859) Notes on nursing: what it is and what it is not. London. Duckworth and company (1970 reprint)
Write your references in the reference section of the assignment as soon as you use them. This will save much heartache
Write a fast first draft so that you have something to work from. In this draft, use simple words and where you know there should be a reference, indicate to yourself that something needs to go in
Always expect to change your draft later, rather than trying to write the perfect sentence and paragraph before you carry on
Look at the way other writers craft their work, how they introduce the names of other authors, how they start sections and paragraphs
Check drafts for notes to yourself you have not removed, repetition of words, and jumbled material
Avoid over-using words like ‘important’, ‘key,’ and avoid starting sentences that are close together with the same words or phrases (e.g. ‘It is’)
Delete superfluous phrases such as ‘as was said earlier’ as these add nothing to the work
Put your nearly completed draft out of mind and don’t read it for a day or two, so you can look at it with fresh eyes
Write from a reader’s point of view; would you be interested in reading it?
In general, use the 3rd person rather than writing in the first person unless you are writing a reflective aspect to the assignment
The reasons for this often include:
Poor referencing technique
Insufficient depth using too limited a range of resources
Not addressing the stated learning outcomes (automatic referral)
Breach of client confidentiality by using their name
Plagiarism/cheating/breach of academic protocol
Undiagnosed learning difference
Poor time management / not using academic tutor as a resource
Most Universities offer study skills help through learning support staff – ask your personal tutor for details. You can also go to: http://www.palgrave.com/skills4study/
This free resource is full of practical advice to help you study more effectively at University.Seeking More Support