Tag Archives: Learning

Tips to Increase Your Final Exam Performance

The end to another academic term is quickly approaching… along with the stress of writing final exams. If you have to write exams and are feeling nervous, overwhelmed, and exhausted from studying, these are some useful tips from examtime to perform at your best on exam day.

The Night Before
You want to have your exam day planned out beforehand so you can focus on remembering the important information you studied.

  • Check the time and location of your exam
  • Set an alarm to wake up early
  • Collect materials you will need to bring to your exam tomorrow
  • Get a full nights rest (8 hours is recommended)

Exam Day
Make sure you start your day off right. If you’re feeling confident and refreshed before you write your exam, chances are you’ll perform better.

  • Wake up early and prepare for your day (taking a shower can help your body wake up)
  • Have a balanced breakfast (try to eat some fruit, for example, a banana)
  • Grab your exam materials (remember to bring your ID, translators, etc. if required/permitted)
  • Leave early (unexpected events happen all the time; you don’t want to be late)

Starting Your Exam
You have prepared for this moment. Focus your mind and get yourself prepared to ace this exam.

  • Write your name on the exam paper and make sure you have all pages of the exam
  • Read through the exam to get an idea of the content and length of each section
  • Plan your time and focus the majority of your time on the heaviest weighted questions
  • Start answering questions you feel most confident about (leave the challenging questions for last)

Finishing Your Exam
You’re almost done! Just a few more questions and you can leave feeling great.

  • Ask for clarification or assistance if you don’t understand a section/question
  • Pay attention to the time and pace yourself
  • Review your work to ensure you answered all questions correctly
  • Stay to the end of your exam period (review your work multiple times to catch silly mistakes)
  • Hand in your exam feeling confident that you did your best work

Congratulations!
You just finished your exam and can now move on with your day and enjoy the rest of the spring/summer!

I hope these tips were helpful and reduced your fear of writing exams. If you still have any concerns, feel free to post them in the comments or contact your institution’s help centre. Best of luck with your exams and the end of your semester!

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Your Top 10 Hidden Skills Employers Are Looking For

Interviews

Source: Queen’s University Career Services

Employers look for a variety of skills in potential candidates. Depending on the job, these skills may be very technical in nature, but quite often include common “soft skills.” Many job seekers overlook highlighting their soft skills when applying for a job. The Purple Briefcase Blog discusses the value of your soft skills and how to highlight them during your job application.

According to Aol Jobs, the top 10 soft skills job hunters are looking for are:

  1. Strong Work Ethic
  2. Positive Attitude
  3. Good Communication Skills
  4. Time Management Abilities
  5. Problem-Solving Skills
  6. Acting as a Team Player
  7. Self-Confidence
  8. Ability to Accept and Learn from Criticism
  9. Flexibility/Adaptability
  10. Working Well Under Pressure

From personal experience, I’ve always found it useful to carefully review the job posting and job description before applying to a position. To make your application stand out, tailor your resume and cover letter based on the key words and skills employers include in their job posting. If all goes well, you should be prepared to tell hiring managers of how you have effectively used those skills in the interview.

The Flipped Classroom

(Source)

A popular concept in education, which is reviewed on Inside Higher ED’s website, is the idea of a “flipped classroom.” The basic definition of a “flipped classroom,” which varies depending on your source, is that the typical lecture and homework elements of a classroom are reversed. This means students would listen to a pre-recorded lecture at home and do homework in the classroom. Several different business models and organizations already promote this idea, like the well-known Khan Academy non-profit model, but is this model optimal?

Benefits
Don’t get me wrong; the “flipped” model has its benefits. (1) Students can go through the material at their own pace in a comfortable environment. This approach allows students who blaze through the material to be more efficient with their time and less confident students to spend as much time as they need to understand the content. (2) Students who are struggling with a problem or concept in class can ask an instructor for assistance who will guide them to the answer. Speaking from a student perspective, it is much easier (and memorable) to have an instructor work with you to solve a problem than it is consulting a textbook or searching for the answer online. (3) Plenty of opportunity to discuss and compare approaches with other students while in class. Students often solve problems and run into the same issues while working through problems. It can be very helpful and time efficient to collaborate with other students to achieve I higher degree of understanding. These benefits all contributes to a greater understanding of the content and a stronger awareness of troublesome areas that require greater attention.

Weaknesses
So why hasn’t everyone adopted this model? Simply put, it’s in our human nature to resist change. The traditional method of suggesting material to read over before class, lecturing during class, and assigning homework after class has been in place for centuries. This traditional “teacher experience,” arguably, can never be replaced. As a student, one fatal flaw I’ve experienced in the current system occurs at home. I often find it difficult to concentrate and motivate myself to read from a textbook or learn a new topic that doesn’t particularly interest me, especially if the content isn’t specifically brought up in class. I relate this experience to a chore I never liked doing, but is required for a greater cause, like my parent’s satisfaction (or graduation). Of course, it isn’t a perfect system, but we implement support initiatives to redeem its shortcomings. Many of these initiatives mirror the benefits of the “flipped classroom,” for example Academic-Zone’s personalized online approach. Lecturing for more than 50 minutes may not maintain student attention and be effected by diminishing marginal returns. However, the lecture still plays an important role in highlighting the key information in a mountain of text. Instructors also make themselves available after class to clarify information.

Final Thoughts
Similar to the article written by Pamela E. Barnett, a potential solution would be an integration of both systems. Taking the best of both models with the help of modern technology can improve the effectiveness of teaching. For example, having a short lecture, in-class exercises, and relevant online material/assessment could be a possible layout for the lectures of tomorrow. With this model, we have the opportunity to try a new approach and personalize learning for students of the 21st century.

What are you thoughts?
–     Do you think this “flipped classroom” model could work?
–     Would it be easier for students to learn information using this model?
–     How about instructors to teach?

I look forward to your opinion!

A Simple Recipe for Effective Teaching

Educational institutions are constantly looking for initiatives to improve the quality of education provided to their students. Traditionally, an educational lesson has been taught in a physical classroom where the student’s perception and understanding of the material highly depends on the educator’s presentation and explanation of the material. The current trend of an “online classroom,” provides students with access to infinite amounts of information, at any time, any place, and with additional features to enhance their academic learning.

What does it take to become a good teacher?

An interesting article on the Rule Number One blog outlines a simple recipe for being a good teacher. In the article the author, Kevin Michael Klipfel, includes a quote from an educational psychologist, Daniel Willingham, who quotes his book: “Why Don’t Students Like School,” which depicts this recipe perfectly.

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“Effective teachers… are able to connect personally with students, and they organize material in a way that makes it interesting and easy to understand…”

Can this approach still work online? We think it can. Innovative online resources, similar to Academic-Zone, promote an engaging, interactive, and more effective learning environment.

What makes the “online classroom” different?

  • Students have the opportunity to pause, rewind, and play information which is unique to the online learning environment.
  • Facilitators can measure, respond, provide and record feedback much easier and quicker than in a traditional sense.
  • The online platform can be tailored to each student’s unique learning style. Not every student’s learning styles are satisfied in a one-size-fits-all lecture room.

I encourage you to visit our online demonstration so you can decide for yourself if the online approach to learning can be effective.

Thanks for reading!

Just Be Awesome

Have you been procrastinating an assignment or studying for an upcoming test?
Are you struggling to learn a new subject or topic?
Do you tend to make a lot of mistakes then get discouraged from finding the correct answer?

You’re not alone.

These are all common problems students have to tackle, but eventually overcome to succeed. Everyone has their own way to approach these challenges; whether it is improving your time management, seeking assistance from a tutor, or simply taking breaks during intense study periods to relieve stress.

Although there might not be an easy solution I can provide that works for you, I can offer another alternative, or at least a source to spark some inspiration. I came across this blog post from Dan Waldschmidt’s website. “Dan Waldschmidt is an international business strategist, speaker, author, and extreme athlete. His consulting firm solves complex marketing and business strategy problems for savvy companies all over the world,” (Source).

In this particular blog post, which appears to be just another cliché “inspirational quote” list from the internet, Dan provides some great advice.
Some of my favourite quotes from this list are:

–          Just get started on what needs to be done

–          Just be the type of person you would want to have as a friend

–          Just put in more effort

We could all improve our lifestyles by taking some of these simple tips to heart. In addition, if you have the time, I encourage you to read his other posts or watch any of his videos about a topic that interests you.

If you can relate to any of the problems mentioned in this post, or particularly enjoyed any of the quotes listed in Dan’s blog let me know! I would love to hear your opinion.

Thanks for reading!

5 Tips to Improve Your Writing

Academic writing is a challenge for most students entering post-secondary education. In response, most institutions developed their own resources to assist students struggling with academic writing. Still, some students prefer the convenience of online resources. For example, a short 12-minute YouTube video with over 500,000 views, posted by the YouTube account “Learn English with Emma [engVid]”, recommends 5 simple tips to improve academic writing skills.

Emma, an English teacher who primarily works with ESL students, outlines 5 ways to improve academic writing with the use of simple sentences, stronger words, and active voice. Emma’s energetic voice, a white board, and several great examples make this video enjoyable and educational.

After investigating “engVid,” I realized Emma is only one of 8 teachers who have posted a collective 550+ lessons online. I would recommend exploring some of their videos if you are an international student, learning the English language, or would like some comedic relief (I would recommend Ronnie’s videos). Similar to “Khan Academy,” in my post a couple weeks ago, Emma and her colleagues have adapted to the fast-growing technology age.

Be sure to like/comment this post if you enjoyed reading!
Let me know if you have topics you would like to discuss in future blog posts in the comments below.
I would love to hear from you!

Have a great day!

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The Importance of Education

Pearson Education’s twitter account tweeted an interesting and insightful article last week about the “expectations of continuous improvement” (http://goo.gl/GlntMy). Pearson’s current CEO, John Fallon, stresses the importance of equality and quality of education globally. The short 2-minute video below summarizes many of the topics discussed in the article. Pearson published this video during its “Always learning: the Pearson brand” campaign.

Both of these resources tell a story about global education and the importance of customization for each student. Every student doesn’t have the same opportunity to earn an education. Also, students learn by their own style and pace. This is why technology has become such an important factor in the continuous improvement of education.

We share the same values here at Academic-Zone. We believe that resources should be available 24/7/365 to students, tailored to each individual learning style, and include constant assessment to determine students’ problem areas. Our intent is similar to the intent of every teacher, professor, and tutor in our education system—to do everything in our power to ensure students understand the material and succeed.

If I’ve caught your attention or you would like to learn more about us, please check out the “About Us” tab at the top of the page. We would love to enhance academic support initiatives at your institution and give you the chance to explore our online modules through our free webinars.

Have a great day!

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TED Talk: Salman Khan: Let’s use video to reinvent education

Ah… my first blog post, how exciting! Like most students, when faced with a question, challenge or problem, I turn to the internet! While browsing, I stumbled upon this amazing TED Talk.

What I particularly liked about this video was the use of humour to keep the audience entertained. I laughed when he mentioned: “Here I was, an analyst at a hedge fund. It was very strange for me to do something of social value.”

Being a student, I can relate to Khan’s emphasis on “humanizing the classroom.” Often, I have felt like a zombie, mindlessly recording notes. Khan proposed the idea to allow students to go over the lecture material, via his online videos, as a form of “homework” the night before lecture. This would allow the professor to go over problems during class time to reinforce understanding of the topics discussed in the online videos. This also provides students the opportunity to learn the material in the comfort of their home and at their own pace.

The developers of Academic-Zone have taken a similar approach with their learning modules—offering resources that students can explore 24/7/365, at their own pace and based on their own need. As a student, I believe Academic-Zone is an easily accessible resource for today’s student and addresses many of the issues discussed in this video.

If this topic interests you, read more about it here!: http://blog.ted.com/2014/01/15/salman-khans-ted-talk-ignited-the-conversation-about-online-education-why-hes-doubling-down-on-the-school-of-the-future/

If you enjoyed this post and/or have any comments or thoughts about Khan’s video, please leave me a comment.
Thanks for reading!

What is Good Teaching?

In a post on the Canadian Education Association (CEA) blog, Dr. Bruce Beairsto, a professor at Simon Fraser University, shares his insight on what is effective teaching. He explains that teaching is an art as well as a science—that teaching goes beyond communication and it is the student response that determines the effectiveness of the teacher.

“…teaching is an iterative process of trial and error, guided by careful observation of student response (aka formative assessment).  The teacher adapts instructional technique depending upon student response until the desired responses are achieved.  When that happens, teaching has occurred.”

What are your thoughts? What factors contribute to good teaching?

Read the full post here.

Canadian Education Association website.

Is it Time to Retire the Binder?

Has the time come to abandon binders and the whole concept of handwritten notes? In a recent post by the Canadian Education Association, one instructor gives his thoughts on this matter. “Let’s Ban the Binder” discusses why we need to move on from the traditional methods of having students copy out notes or keep copies of handouts towards the use of more collaborative learning practices. It touches on how exploring of modern tools and technology should be emphasized, rather than having students simply review notes in preparation for tests.

Do you think it’s time to abandon the traditional methods of teaching and learning? What role might technology play? In your opinion, are there  factors that stand in the way of change? Share your thoughts!

An intriguing quote:
“If we believe that creativity is more important than regurgitation, that inventiveness is of greater value than memorization, that learning is more experiential than observational, then we must engage students in thinking beyond pen, ruler and paper.”

Click here for the full article.

Visit the Canadian Education Association website for more.