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"Study Skills"(2 Posts)
Has anyone ever seen (or given!) a really good, stimulating, useful "study skills" session for high ability first year undergrads? Something fairly generic rather than very subject specific. Or is there no such thing? Is it only possible to embed the development of study skills in actual academic content? Are generic study skills sessions inevitably dull?
I've been asked to think about what we could offer in Freshers 'Week.
I tend to think that fairly subject-specific classes of this kind are more useful than the generic. Lots of universities have study skills/learning teams (often attached to the library) who can give the general material (and, indeed, building good links between departments and these teams can be so valuable for helping undergraduates get and stay in touch with them later). However, some more subject-specific stuff can then be beyond them or outside their area of experience - for example, students studying ancient history, modern history, Tudor history, or archaeology, all may need similar essay-writing skills, yet are using very different types of evidence, and so some things to think about in handling and citing that evidence can be more useful than a more general guide. Ideally, therefore, a mix of both is the best way to make these types of study events helpful (and, indeed, the best department I've seen making use of the study skills team had an internal contact as well as good links, so that the two teams worked together to cover both general and specific material).
So, personally, I'd do a half-and-half session - introducing the study skills team and what they can offer, giving some general pointers to where problems often arise (planning their first assignment, how to do referencing, etc.), and where they should go for help when that problem arises. Then, in the second half, some more subject-specific pointers. In my experience, in fresher's week very little content is actually absorbed, because they are too overwhelmed. So more useful is information about where they go, or who they talk to when questions arise - or indeed, what kinds of questions those may be. They don't take in the answers as well at this stage, as without the context of working on an actual assignment, they don't mean as much to them.