*New Resources in Development*
The LDS team have devised a selection of learning resources to support your academic work and personal development. Please browse the areas below to find the resource(s) relevant to your query.
General Writing Resources
Reflective Writing and Learning Journals
Grammar and Punctuation
English Language Interactive Tutorials
The following self-paced interactive learning materials seek to help develop your understanding of the English language.
[Flash player and audio required]
Various fantastic essay writing resources including planning, writing and improving your writing.
Comprehensive resources for essay writing. Including; process of writing, academic style, grammar and writing techniques.
Useful tips for all stages of writing.
A guide to the essay writing process. Can help you get started, become more efficient and to generally improve your essay writing abilities.
Wikibooks guide to help you write better university essays: lots of detail under the various headings.
University of Bristol guide to improving your grammar and punctuation.
Univeristy of Reading's clear and concise guides to different types of academic writing
Features of good reports from The University of Reading
University of Sussex detailed guide to writing reports including structure, planning, critical analysis and writing style.
UNC Writing Center handout on literature reviews
University of Leicester's concise guide to dissertation writing
Critical Thinking, Reading, and Writing
Revision and Preparing for Exams
Presentation and Communication Skills
Tutorials and Seminars
While the majority of the modules at university are delivered via weekly lectures, seminars and tutorials compliment your education. However, none of these courses should be regarded as passive sessions to just come and listen. Your active participation is needed.
Lectures are courses with large numbers of students. It is a less interactive setting, as your lecturer will be talking to provide you with an insight on a given topic. The interaction is normally taking place at the end of the session, when students are encouraged to ask questions.
Seminars should be understood as group tuition which are normally on a specific topic. Student interaction is needed and encouraged, however the instructor will guide the seminar.
Tutorials should be perceived as an individual or small group tuition. Less students participate and they are more focused on individual needs. Interaction is extremely important for tutorials as students can highly influence the content and structure of the course.
Seminars and tutorials are to a certain extent quite similar. In both cases most communication is a two way process. Someone speaks and the others listen. Sometimes the lecturer will not spend a lot of time talking. He/she may begin by raising a topic, and then allow members of the tutorial/seminar to have an informal debate. At other times the lecturer may divide the group up and give groups different topics to discuss. The aim of this is to initiate thinking and create both sides of an argument, wherefore it is crucial that you participate.
At university, group work is a common tool used in seminars, labs or tutorials. It is an increasingly popular means of assessmentat QUB and is perceived as a vital skill at the job market. However, far too often students find working with others a very difficult task as e.g., conflicts arise, communication problems occur or there are issues in regard to time management.
To overcome this and enable a successful group work we have developed a few resources which should provide you with some helpful tips.
Assertiveness is behaviour which helps us to communicate clearly and confidently our needs, wants and feelings to other people without abusing in any way their rights. Lindenfield (1992)
University of Kent's tips to improve various communication skills
University of Leicester's various resources for improving presentation skills
University of Canberra's concise tips including preparing and structuring your presentation, visual aids and nervousness
Information on preparing and presenting; and great tips for group presentations
Reference Generator: "Cite2Write"
Searching for Literature?
For practical tips and advice on search strategies and accessing resources, please click the link below:
Writing a Dissertation?
Dissertations present the opportunity to research a chosen topic / question in much greater depth than is required for a typical undergraduate essay. There are many stages involved; from formulating a research proposal, to writing up your findings.
Writing a dissertation for the first time can present a daunting task for students. The following presentations explore some of the stages involved and should help you think about specific aspects of the research and writing process.
LDS WRITING A LITERATURE REVIEW
LDS WRITING YOUR RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
There are many different theories and views of learning styles and approaches to learning. You may have heard of people talking about 'visual learners', 'kinaesthetic learners' and others. An overview of these different learning styles can be seen below:
Visual (spatial) Learners - Learners who prefer using pictures, images, and spatial understanding.
Aural (auditory-musical) Learners - Learners who prefer using sound and music.
Verbal (linguistic) Learners - Learners who prefer using words, both in speech and writing.
Physical (kinaesthetic) Learners - Learners who prefer using your body, hands and sense of touch.
Logical (mathematical) Learners - Learners who prefer using logic, reasoning and systems.
Social (interpersonal) Learners - Learners who prefer to learn in groups or with other people.
Solitary (intrapersonal) Learners - Learners who prefer to work alone and use self-study.
From the list above you may already know the type of learner you are and you may have a better idea of techniques that you should develop (combined with time management, note taking etc.). However, you may still have some difficulty, or would like a better interpretation of your learning style. There are many tools available that will provide you with a more comprehensive analysis of your learning style and also can provide you with more practical tips for studying.
One of the most popular is the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory (MBTI). The MBTI is a technique for measuring your learning preferences, using four basic scales with 'opposite poles'. The four scales are:
The MBTI will require you to make a choice between each of the above based on your preferences and the various combinations of your preferences will result in one (from a total of 16) personality type. If you would like to find your personality type using the MBTI click here.
Once you know your MBTI from taking the test, then you will be able to develop your study skills.
General Study Skills
Note Taking in Lectures
Taking accurate detailed notes is one of the most important skills you need for learning at University. The notes you take during lectures will help you prepare for examinations and also offer a way to reflect on your previous learning. If you don't take notes during your lectures then it is most likely that after the lecture you won't remember the key points and examples that were provided.
Some Things to Think About:
- If you don’t attend your lecture, you will miss important information.
- Even if you borrow your friends’ notes, you still run the risk of missing important information.
- If your lecturer has requested additional reading before your next lecture do it! Otherwise it is highly likely that you will not understand the material covered in your next lecture.
- By reading in advance it is likely you can predict the topics to be covered in your lecture.
- REMEMBER: Lectures do not provide you with a full understanding of the subject, and certainly are not the total requirement for exam revision, they assume some input on your part e.g. writing up notes in a style that is more comprehensive!
- Always ask in advance if lecture notes are available before the lecture. If they are, print and study them BEFORE you attend the lecture!
Being presented with a reading list on a new course can be daunting for most students. They worry over how much to read, which bits of books and papers are releveant, and how to make effective notes from readings so that they can understand and remember the important points.
The first thing you should do when you are given a reading list is to find out which books and papers are necessary for particular lectures, tutorials or seminars and essays. If this is not clear from your module handouts do not be afraid to ask them to direct you to the most useful texts. By doing this you will be breaking up your reading into more manageable chunks and it will seem less of an obstacle.
Generally your module guide, or lecture/tutorial handout, will specify certain readings as ESSENTIAL. These are the ones you really should take the time to read.
Then there may be sources under SUGGESTED reading. These are generally very useful and will bolster your knowledge beyond set texts. Use them for essays, seminar presentations and perhaps, revision for exams.
FURTHER reading lists can be dipped into, if you have the time, when it comes to essays.
Remember – you are not expected to read everything or to read texts from cover to cover. The whole idea of academic reading is to train you to be SELECTIVE. However, it is good to get into the habit of reading beyond the set texts. But again, do not worry; deciding what to read will come with practice.
Personal Development Plan (PDP)
General Time Management
Keeping on top of all your work at University can be a daunting and difficult task, especially with the demand of your personal life too. Many students find that balancing University life with personal life can be too much. How often have you said, so much to do, so little time to do it?
By effectively planning your week, it is likely that you will cope a lot better with your daily tasks. As a student you need to think about:
- What do spend your time on?
This includes the amount of time you spend at University, time spent with family and friends, time spent sleeping, eating etc. Basically, until you work out how much time you spend on all the different activities you have during the week, you won't be able to work out how many free hours you have in a week for studying etc.
- What are the areas you need to spend more time on?
This relates to your goals and objectives for the duration of your course at Queen's. For example your long term objective is to graduate from University. In order to achieve this goal you need to set your objectives. These objectives need to be SMART (e.g. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time Based). Click on the Setting Goals and Objectives section below for more information.
- What are the areas you need to spend less time on?
You will find that during your time at University, there are times when you have many deadlines to meet, and exams to prepare for. Regardless how well you manage your time, and plan in advance, you may find that there still aren't enough hours in the day to fit everything in. In situations like this you need to prioritise your activities. This involves distinguishing between important and urgent activities.Sacrifices may have to be made in order to complete any important tasks.
Drag and drop topics from the right hand side into your weekly schedule to see how you spend your week. When you're finished, click the Submit button for some guidance on your schedule.
Once you are aware of your goals and objectives, you will find that there are a number of tasks/activities that must be completed in order to achieve them. During your time at university you may run into problems because you have a number of different tasks (e.g. assignments, group work activities etc) that need to completed in a short period of time. You may find that even with all your planning there are simply not enough hours in the day to get everything done.
If this happens, the most important thing for you to do is not to panic! Everyone, at some stage, will feel that they have not got the time to complete everything, which is why prioritising your work is so important. Your first starting point will be to write down all the different tasks that you need to complete (this will also stop you from forgetting something).
Once you have a list of all the activities you need to complete, you can then begin to prioritise your workload. You need to decide on which tasks are important, urgent, non-important and non-urgent. Deciding on this can be difficult, however, it may help to consider the difference between important and urgent:
Important Activities - Importance implies some assessment of the benefits of completing a task against the loss if the task is not finished.
Urgent Activities - Urgency relates to the length of time before the task must be completed.
There are various ways you can prioritise. For example, you could number all your tasks 1, 2, 3 and so on, with number 1 being top priority. Then each day you should create a plan to complete as many of the listed tasks as you can, starting with number 1. Alternatively you could use a grid and place your tasks/activities in the grid to help you prioritise.
Setting Goals and Objectives
Before you can create any type of plan for spending you time, you first need to write down your goals. It is good practice to list your overall goal for attending University and then set goals for each year or even semester afterwords. For example:
My Overall Goal for attending University (2012 - 2015)
- Graduate from University with a 2:1 Classification in my chosen degree.
My Goal for my first/second/third year of University
- Complete all my modules successful and achieve a pass rate average of 55.
Once you know what your goals are, you then need a path to follow to achieve your goals. This is when you set your objectives. You objectives can be set for a complete Academic Year, a Semester on even on a monthly basis - it is entirely up to you. The only thing you need to remember is to make your objectives SMART:
SMART objectives will mean that you are more likely to succeed. Being 'specific' with your objectives will mean that your objectives have some meaning and focus. If your objectives are 'measurable' then you will be able to know if you have achieved your objective. There is no point in setting objectives that are beyond your reach, therefore you need to ensure your objectives are 'achievable' but also 'realistic'. Setting an objective like "I will get 100% in all my exams this semester" will be extremely difficult to achieve and is not very realistic! Whereas if you have an objective like "I will aim to pass all my exams with an average of 60% this semester" - this may be more achievable and realistic for you. Finally, you need to ensure that there is a time frame on your objectives, otherwise you may achieve your objective if you have no set time to complete it!
Francesco Cirillo’s Pomodoro Technique (TM) is a productivity booster and helps with time management:
- Select a task to be accomplished
- Set the Pomodoro (a kitchen timer or even the timer on your phone) to 25 minutes.
- Work on the task until the timer rings.
- Then put a check on your sheet of paper to mark where you reached.
- Take a short break (around five minutes).
- Every four 'Pomodoros' take a longer break (up to an hour)
To keep track of your 'Pomodoros' and your breaks, try this free online tomato timer
Type in the submission date for your assessment and then follow the suggested steps.
How to organise your time and motivate yourself to use it wisely
A time management technique to help you improve your productivity
Time management explained: prioritising and being effective
Useful tips for organising, prioritising, and succeeding in your studies
Teaches you personal time management skills
To show you what you can do to improve your abilities to recognize and solve personal time management problems
Developing a positive mindset
Signs of stress and where to get help
Our Healthy Minds tips on studying, self-confidence and making friends
MIND tips for coping with uni life
Here are some student stress relief tips and tools that students can use to learn study skills, prepare for exams and minimize their school stress levels to make learning easier.