This chapter shows how to get most classwork with a focus on lectures. The chapter starts by explaining the traditional lecture as a common teaching method at the university. The traditional lectures are then criticized, with lecturers said to be poor communicators since they are employed more based on their research abilities rather than their teaching abilities. These criticisms are countered. This is done by lecturers modifying the traditional lectures. A typical situation is given before the lecture, during the lecture, and after the lecture. The chapter focuses on what goes on during a lecture, which typically involves listening to the main points, highlighting them, following arguments, and putting these points down. Some alternative strategies for taking lecture notes are given in the chapter. The chapter concludes with what ensues after a lecture. The importance of reviewing one’s lecture notes is emphasized. One can record their lecture if they prefer to work alone. Some lecturers record their lectures, and avail them online. (162 words)
Review of Good Study
Good Study is a brief, hands-on undergraduate student guide written to equip first year students with the necessary study skills to succeed. The book is written by Neil Burdess, a university lecturer and it reflects his first-hand, long teaching experience with first year university students. The purpose of the book is to introduce first year students with university study tools and techniques in minimum time. Of similar purpose to Good Study are the following textbooks: Improving Your Study Skills by Bernice Walmsley and Study Skills for Successful Students by Fred Orr.
Good Study is comprehensive in nature, with 16 chapters included in total. The chapters are divided into four main themes: (i) class attendance and exam taking, (ii) finding and locating information, (iii) discipline of writing and (iv) utilizing tables, graphs and images.
The first theme ‘class attendance and exam taking’ encompass a wide array of topics (chapters 1-5) including student orientation, settling in on campus, getting familiar with the environment of study, positioning students socially, introducing them to university procedures and requirements and organizing their time adequately (chapter 1). In addition, a before-during-after sequence was used later on to cover topics such as lectures, tutorials, presentations and exams (chapters 2-5).
The second theme ‘finding and locating information’ provides the students with the ability to retrieve information from various sources (chapters 6-9), including: books, journal articles, government reports and web resources. This section provides tips and techniques that enable an effective information finding and gathering process.
The third theme ‘the discipline of writing’ covers basic university writing principles and practices including language style, wording and formulating sentences that are grammatically correct and with the adequate punctuation (Chapters 10-11). In return, writing error-free paragraphs (Chapter 11). Moreover, this section provides detailed information on various types of writing such as essays and business reports (chapters 12-13).
The last theme covered in the book addresses ‘utilizing tables, graphics and images’ and it equips students with the ability to develop their own non-textual materials such as numbers, tables and graphs and make the best of other people’s figures and images (chapters 14-16).
The structure of the book was set in a coherent, cohesive manner in a way that is easy for the students to follow. This is evident in the way the book was organized and the chapters were sequenced systematically. Due to the aforementioned, there was no redundancy in chapters observed for each chapter covered a different concept. With reference to the content of the book, the chapters were succulent and covered comprehensive knowledge and skills that first year students needed to be aware of. Compared to the two other similar books, Improve your Study Skills (Walmsley 2010) and Study Skills for Successful Students (Orr 1992) the content presented was more or less similar, as a matter of fact, Good Study included the ‘utilizing graphs and other images’ section which was lacking in the other two textbooks. This added value as we live in a visual world in which numbers and graphs provide a ‘big picture’ and are incorporated in daily basis. However, a list of further references in the end of each chapter at Good Study or engaging the readers on practical exercises would have added value to the book. For instance, Improve your Study Skills (Walmsley 2010) incorporated a summary, quick revision test and 10 things to remember section after every chapter. Nonetheless, this could be for the reason that the aim of Good Study is to provide a short guide to the students and a brief introduction.
Furthermore, the content of Good Study was set in a contemporary manner and the material was up to date, for instance: it guides students to use the internet as a source for information and at the same time to distinguish between the quality of information available online. As opposed to the Study Skills for Successful Students (Orr 1992) book which neglected to encompass some essential elements such as searching online.
The book is written in an easy to follow English style, appropriate for first year students to follow. Complex jargons and terminologies were avoided and when used for academic purposes they were defined and introduced. Keywords were bolded to reinforce their importance, whenever possible, bullet points, tables and diagrams were used to simplify the information. Each section was clearly marked and highlighted so that the reader can easily follow what they are reading or jump in between sections.
Overall, Good Study provides a valuable introduction to students starting out their university life. It is unique, that it is relevant and targeted towards first year students as opposed to Improving Your Study Skills that is written for anyone who needs to learn, not necessarily students and Study Skills for Successful Students that is targeted for secondary and tertiary students onwards. In addition, Good Study focuses not only on study skills but also the academic aspects. I would recommend this book to first year university students that need a practical guide and advice on university and academic life. (833 words)
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