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The purpose of this assignment is to reflect on how I manage my learning skills in college; both individual and group settings.
It has been 10 years since I finished high school. When I joined NCI, I did not know what to expect; I just hopped that it will be different from high school, where I was sitting on a chair, listening the teachers reading from a thick book and trying to make us memorize things that have not been useful in life so far.
Going to college is very challenging for me, especially because I also have to go to work full-time. The big step came with a lot of pressure. The main struggle I am facing is allocating the time between studying, going to classes, work, having a home life, extracurricular activities, and meeting the physiological needs like food and sleep. And because I am a foreign student, the worries are even greater as I also have to adapt to a different culture and get used with the more complicated terms used in college.
After first year of college, I have realised that a rigorous daily plan on how to manage my time better is the key to successfully achieve my goals in college. The plan must have clear objectives and be driven by motivation, self-discipline, self-confidence, good study habits and a positive attitude.
Below I am going to list how I set up my plan and how this helped me to successfully pass through first year of college:
Although this year I did not have the best study plan I it was harder to get used with the idea of going back to school and studying, from next year I am planning to have a more well-organised plan. A well-organised study plan will offer me an overview of my tasks and makes it possible for me to spread my tasks across the semester and prepare early for everything; thus ensuring that I will not be overwhelmed by unwritten essays and unread texts at the end of the semester.
“The important thing is to divide and prioritise your daily tasks, thus ensuring that there is enough time for all of them – both your study related tasks and your other chores.” (Harboe and Müllen, 2007)
After the first few weeks in college, I have realised that motivation, determination and self-discipline are indispensable tools and core premises when it comes to study technique. Especially self-discipline as college is so different of high school where you were checked on a regular basis by your teachers and parents to make sure you study and do your homework. In college, you are in charge of your own course of study. No one makes sure that you study sufficiently, whether you attend classes or whether you submit your essays or assignments. It is your own responsibility to learn something, and it is a heavy responsibility to face alone.
Understanding my needs and what motivates me to study helped me in achieving to improve my study skills.
When learners are concerned about certain needs, their behaviour is centred on meeting those needs. Other concerns will then take precedence over learning and achievement.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs was proposed by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation” in Psychological Review. (Maslow, 1943)
The theory is represented as a hierarchical triangle which shows how basic needs must be met before one can “climb” the hierarchy, to address more complex needs (Figure 1).
Maslow believed that humans are fueled by a desire to achieve goals, and that they act in a way which will address basic needs first, before moving on to satisfy other, so-called higher-level needs. Every person has a strong desire to realise his or her full potential, to reach a level of ‘self-actualisation’.
Before higher-order needs can be reached, lower needs must be satisfied. Behaviors will be centered on meeting the needs in the lowest order, and then will progress to higher orders as needs are satisfied. For example, if you feel thirsty or hungry, you will not be able to focus on studying until you drink water or eat; if you feel unsafety e.g. losing your job, your ability to study will be lower. Also, if you feel lonely, if you feel that no one likes or loves you, you will firstly will to fulfil this need before thinking of studying.
The motivation to go to college and study lies at the top of the pyramid, between self-esteem and self-actualization. Self-esteem includes confidence, achievement, respect of others, and a need to be a unique individual. (Thoron, 2018)
In my case, the motivation to go to college and work hard to get good grades brings me more confidence and trust in myself. Getting a good job after I graduate will bring me prestige, recognition, appreciation, and importance. However, getting a lower grade or failing an exam or assignment, makes me feel inferior and weak.
Self-actualization represents the desire for self-fulfilment. This is the desire of the individual to become everything that he/she is capable of becoming. This need is not motivated by a deficiency but rather by a desire for personal growth. Maslow indicates that few people will ever fully reach this level. Self-actualized individuals are spontaneous, are problem-centered, have an increased perception of reality, and are autonomous. (Thoron, 2018)
Understanding Maslow’s hierarchy of needs greatly helped me to improve my ability to learn. Now, before I start studying, I make sure that I had food, have a bottle of water with me. Also, I thy to have enough sleep, and put my prone onto silent so that my girlfriend, family or friends cannot disturb me.
Concentration is about avoiding thinking about other things when you study; and keeping noise and unnecessary interruptions at a minimum. In this respect, before to start studying, I try to identify and avoid disturbing elements in my surroundings – especially when I am in the process of writing a research paper or studying for an exam. For example, when I am sitting at my pc, I try to do not open the web browser or mailbox. To most people, it is also a bad idea to have the television turned on while they study. All in all, phones, the television, the Internet, magazines, etc. are all potential time-wasting and disturbing elements.
Concentration for me may fail for many reasons. Noise from the television in the background, or music turned on to loud are direct and the easiest way in which I get distracted. There are also indirect sources which may disturb me: sometimes my teacher’s illustrations annoy me as they are not complex and the writing is too small; or I cannot understand the teacher’s strong accent; or sometimes I am thinking about work rather than paying attention to lectures.
“Whatever the source, it is important that you offer yourself the best conditions to be able to concentrate.” (Harboe and Müllen, 2007)
A goal is a target or objective that we strive to attain. Accordingly, goal setting theory is the process by which we set targets for ourselves. By setting personal goals routinely, you will be aiming to achieve targets and so you will keep trying your best consistently.
For the new academic year, I am planning to set a goal which is S.M.A.R.T: Specific, Measurable, Action, Realistic and Time Based.
My goal will be Specific because clear goals are more likely to be achieved E.g. l will answer all the questions on chapter 8 by 6pm this evening.
Measurable because if a progress in achieving a goal is not measurable then I will easily lose interest in it E.g. All questions in chapter will be answered.
Action – I will break down the series of steps or actions needed to attain the goal E.g First read chapter 8, make a summary of the main points, answer the questions
Realistic – My study goals will be realistic and achievable E.g. only do one chapter per night.
And Time Based – I will try to put a deadline on my goals in order to place urgency on their completion E.g. finish the chapter by 6pm. (Bull, Albinson & Shambrook, 1996)
College gives students an excellent opportunity to develop not just study skills, but also many other skills useful in life. These skills will help us to succeed the challenging tasks we may face at work or even day to day life after graduation.
To succeed in college, it is very important to know in which way we study better; what are your pros and cons when it comes to studying.
By answering to the following questions, I was able to improve my grades and study faster and with more pleasure:
Learning style refers to the way you prefer to take in new information, by seeing, by listening, or through some other channel. For more information, see the section on learning styles.
Most people have one channel that works best for them when it comes to taking in new information. Knowing yours can help you develop strategies for studying, time management, and note taking that work especially well for you.
While reading “Learning Styles: A Review of Theory, Application, and Best Practices” By Romanelli, Frank; Bird, Eleanora and Ryan, Melody, I have discover that I am a visual learner – I understand ideas best when they are presented in a visual format, such as a flowchart, a diagram, or text with clear headings and many photos or illustrations.
In my case, after trying to study both on morning and nights, I have realised that the energy does not peak early in the morning for me, and that I am more productive during night. My best hours of studying or writing are between 11pm and 1am as the house is quiet and no one disturbs me.
Some people work fine at a messy desk and know exactly where to find what they need in their stack of papers; however, most people benefit from maintaining a neat, organized space.
In my case, I love keeping everything organised and neat. I concentrate better when all my notes and materials are organised in folders and by modules.
If you can study at home without being tempted to turn on the television, check your e-mail, fix yourself a snack, and so on, you may make home your work space. However, if you need a less distracting environment to stay focused, you may be able to find one on your college’s campus or in your community.
I enjoy eating snacks while I study and listen to piano music, but I do not get distracted by the television or social media. I feel more productive studying home than in the campus outside the exam period, but I also go to study in the campus during exam period as seeing all the rest of the students studying makes me more ambitious and stresses me in a good way to achieve my grades goals.
Usually, studying with a partner or group gives me more motivation, and helps me be more productive while making assignments. First semester of the first year of college for example, studying with my best class mate helped me to pass my maths exam as he pushed me to study harder and harder every day.
However, working this way takes extra planning and effort, as sometimes we get distracted by long conversations and social media.
At certain points in the semester, I feel stressed out and sometimes feel like I cannot study anymore as it is too hard. But I realised that I can reduce the stress by spending time with friends, going for walks or going to gym.
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