Tag Archives: University

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!

The Single Most Important Factor for Success

Have you ever wondered what determines if an individual is academically and/or professionally successful? One would assume intelligence, time management skills, or wealth are all possible factors… but surprisingly those don’t take the top spot. Angela Lee Duckworth, a psychologist from the University of Pennsylvania, just might have the answer. Check out this 6-minute TED Talk to hear her story.

What are your thoughts?

  • Do you think passion and perseverance are crucial for success?
  • Do you think there is a more important factor for success?
  • Can you think of anyone who embodies this factor?
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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.

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Why Do Students Have Academic Writing Assignments?

Why Do Students Have Academic Writing Assignments

Students become very familiar with academic assignments in post-secondary education. Whether it’s in the form of an essay, research, term, argumentative, or analytical paper, educators often assign this type of activity. Although some students may not enjoy academic writing, there are several beneficial traits they develop that contribute to academic success.

1. Critical Thinking

Students have an opportunity to enhance their critical thinking skills. Students are encouraged to critically analyze an assignment and logically come up with a solution to achieve the highest mark. Over time, their skills and strategies are refined to enable them to critically think outside of school.

2. Memory

Physically writing information acts as a great memory aid for students. Often, when a student writes a paper in their own words, they will remember the information more efficiently. In addition, students who complete academic papers are more likely to remember the content in future tests/exams.

3. Decision Making

Working on assignments further improves students’ decision making skills. Students have to understand assignment requirements, plan their time, and submit the completed assigned before the deadline. These are all transferable skills significant in succeeding in the workplace.

4. Creative/Analytical Thinking

Various assignments, for example, argumentative papers, require a justification of a point or position. This develops creative thinking and analytical skills by evaluating information and developing a well-structured argument. Students learn how to express themselves in writing which is useful during interviews and job applications.

Are you convinced?

Did you realize how many skills were developed by completing academic assignments? Hopefully I have instilled greater appreciation and motivation for your academic writing.

Thanks for reading!

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!

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!

Technology can help in solving problems in face-to-face classes

This is a very interesting article! The post showcases an instructor’s strategy of creating YouTube videos as online resources for her students. She discusses the benefits and setbacks of providing an online lesson to students. The post compares the pace of teaching face to face to the pace of teaching online or online resources. When teaching face to face, the instructor typically sets the pace of the lesson based on personal preference, timeframe, and students’ note-taking speed. An online resource or lesson, however, allows the student to control the pace through pausing and resuming. I believe students often have a hard time keeping up with professors.
Academic-Zone sees the benefit of self-directed learning and provides students with online resources that allow them to work at their own pace and improve their academic writing skills inside and outside the classroom. What are your thoughts? For more reading on this topic, check out the original article.

New Team Member

The Academic-Zone Team would like to welcome a new member—Our new Sales Specialist/Customer Service Administrator Phil Pa. Phil, a third year Business Administration student studying at Brock University, is currently completing a co-op work term with Academic-Zone. Responsible for external Academic-Zone outreach as well as internal promotion to faculty at Brock University, he is ready to answer all your questions about Academic-Zone. Send him an e-mail at academic-zone@brocku.ca . Phil is excited and ready for all the challenges that await him!

Module Update: Essay-Zone

Essay-ZoneEssay-Zone has been updated! Yes, that’s right, yet another update! This update includes three new updated activities, which are more intuitive and user friendly (the picture above is one of the new activities from Essay-Zone). The updated exercises also provide more valuable feedback for students.

We have also made Essay-Zone consistent with the other modules by incorporating the use of purple triangles to access the pop-ups instead of the blue question marks.

This update also brings a new feature to Academic-Zone. We are now able to embed PDF resources directly into the Academic-Zone modules. Students working through the module will have access to even more information. The resources vary from things like editing checklists to sample essays in different citation formats. These additional resources are now more accessible than ever before, and can be downloaded and printed off by students for use inside and outside the module!

Be sure to check back to see what other news Academic-Zone has to share for the upcoming 2013-14 school year.

New Module Annoucement – Science-Zone: Lab Reports

Lab Reports

The Academic-Zone team is proud to announce the release of Science-Zone: Lab Reports, our first science-focused module! This module is intended to provide an general overview of the key components in a post-secondary level lab report. It covers topics such as introduction, materials and methods, results, discussion, and abstract. This module has a variety of videos and practice exercises to keep students engaged!

As development continues we hope to create more concentrated Lab Report modules for specific disciplines like Chemistry, Biology, or Physics!

Got an idea for product development? We’d love to hear it! Send an email to academic-zone@brocku.ca!