Archive for the ‘Study Skills’ Category

Use Team Charters to Improve Group Assignments

Sunday, March 1st, 2015

Many faculty now have students work in teams to complete course-long projects that are designed to accomplish multiple course objectives and that count for a significant part of the course grade. These groups do not always function well, which concerns faculty. If experiences in groups do not develop good teamwork skills, then maybe it’s better not to use groups and have students do assignments individually. Frequently that’s what they prefer anyway.

The counterargument for group assignments involves the expectation that people will be working in groups throughout their careers, and if they don’t have the necessary skills, the consequences can be significant. Group work in college courses is a better place to develop those skills. The environment is safer, and there’s the opportunity for constructive feedback. But that’s still a challenge for teachers when they have multiple groups working on projects online or outside class. It’s pretty much impossible to keep track of what’s happening in every group, so students need to take responsibility for how they are working together. The issue is what teachers can do to help them when they are new to group work or come to it with less than satisfactory skills.

A recent and excellent article that proposes a model for “building teams that learn” recommends that teachers have students develop a team charter early in their interaction. “Completing a team charter encourages team members to set goals and discuss how they will work together; it begins the discussion about expectations for participation and performance.” (p. 708) As a working document, it helps establish norms that contribute to group effectiveness. The authors see the team charter as a “necessary first step” to evolve from being a group to being a team. (p. 708)

by Maryellen Weimer, PhD

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Where and When You Study: Choosing Your Best Place

Monday, December 17th, 2012

Your surroundings have a big effect on your efficiency. Match your assessment results to the advice below. What changes do you need to make?

1.  Is my study place available to me whenever I need it?

  • Your study place does you little good if you cannot use it when you need it.
  • If you are using a shared study place, work out a schedule so that you know when you can use it without distractions and as long as you need it.

2.  Is my study place free from interruptions and distractions?

  • It is important to have uninterrupted study time. Even one hour of study without distraction is more effective than four hours of study with interruptions.
  • Turn off your cell phone or set it to silent. No ring tones + no vibrations = no distractions.
  • Turn off the IM feature on your computer, unless you are using it as a means to communicate with members of a study group.
  • Don’t check your email while studying. Set aside time to read it before you start studying or once you have finished.
  • A great way to take care of distractions is to create several user profiles on your computer. Set one, perhaps called Study, to block access to the internet altogether. Set another to Research, allowing internet access but blocking games and perhaps email. The third, with full access, can be My Time or something similar. [A warm shout-out to the brothers of Alpha Delta Phi for this suggestion.]

3.  Does my study place have all the materials I need?

  • Be certain that your study place includes reference sources and all of the supplies you generally need (e.g., graph paper, pens/pencils, rulers, calculator, a computer with internet access).
  • If you study best outside your room, check your backpack or bag before heading for the library or Athena cluster to make sure you have everything you’ll need.

4.  Does my study place have a large enough desk/table?

  • Use a desk or table large enough to spread out everything you need, so that you don’t waste time moving things around.
  • Allow enough room for writing.
  • Try to avoid clutter.

5.  Does my study place have a comfortable chair?

  • A chair that makes you stiff or fidget will interfere with your studying.
  • A chair that is too comfortable might make you sleepy.
  • Find a chair in which you can sit for at least an hour and still maintain your attention. Then take a stretch break.

6.  Does my study place have enough light?

  • Straining to see the page or screen burns through your energy more quickly.
  • If you have a dark room or study place, add a lamp or use a reading light.

7.  Does my study place have a comfortable temperature?

  • If it’s too warm, you might become sleepy.
  • If it’s too cold, you may become distracted.
  • Select a temperature at which your mind and body function best.

When to study:

Make studying a regular part of your schedule. Let it become routine like brushing your teeth or tying your shoes. For example, once your class times are set, find times when you have a two-hour block, say 2-4 pm on Tuesday/Thursday and 8:30-10:30 pm Monday/Wednesday. Do not ever schedule something else at those times: make them sacred!

Choose study times and days when you’re likely to feel energetic and have enough time to complete assignments before class.

Use daylight hours (as much as possible). Research shows that 60 minutes of study during the day is the equivalent of 90 minutes of study at night (Walter Pauk, How to Study in College, 6th ed. [Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1989], p. 27).

Plan to study for blocks of time. Generally, studying in one-hour blocks is most effective (50 minutes of study with a ten-minute break). Shorter periods can be fine for studying notes and memorizing materials, but longer periods are needed for problem-solving tasks, psets, and writing papers.

Determine how long you need to study to fully engage with the material you are learning. The third unit number in MIT subject listings tells you how many hours departments and instructors feel you need to spend studying in order to effectively learn that subject: 1 unit = 1 hour of work per week. Most subjects expect 6-9 units of preparation, and many students find they need more. You do the math!

Study soon after lecture. You’ll remember and understand more if you review your lecture notes immediately after class. If questions arise then or something is unclear, you’ll have plenty of time to check with a classmate or the instructor to clarify what you missed; it may be something important that you need for your psets and might appear on an exam.

List and do tasks according to priorities. Remember Parkinson’s Law: “Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” If you allot two hours to read ten pages, it will probably take you the full two hours to complete this 30-minute task.

Start long or involved assignments ahead of time. In your heart you know it’s true: cramming and rushing = poor quality work.

Set an agenda for each study period. Be specific, and plan ahead so that you know exactly what task you will accomplish during each study period.

Once you find a schedule that works for you, stick to it. Some days you may not feel like studying at the appointed time, but habit will help you settle down.

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Listening Well and Taking Effective Lecture Notes

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

Most people retain only a small fraction of what they hear. Good notes can increase that fraction significantly. Use the tips below to improve your listening skills and your note-taking skills:

Before Lecture:


Readings plant seeds in your mind that will be watered and cultivated in lecture. Be sure to complete required readings before lecture. If you haven’t done the reading, you will scramble to keep up with the unfamiliar information coming at you, and remember even less of it than otherwise. You will also find it harder to take effective notes because you won’t know where the lecture is headed.


Arrive early and take a seat in the center of a row and up front near the lecturer, where you can see the board and slides and hear the lecture clearly.


Skipping lecture is not an option. Do not rely solely on your classmates’ notes or online lecture notes. Individuals tend to take notes on different things and in different ways. Learning depends on repetition: reading before lecture, hearing the material analyzed during lecture, reviewing your notes, then working on psets—each of these reinforces the others. Besides, you are paying the professors to teach you. Why skip out on their lectures?

During Lecture:

Less is More:

Do not attempt to write down the lecturer’s words verbatim. Try to get down as much of the relevant information as possible using the fewest possible words. Save writing time by using personal abbreviations and symbols that you will remember.  Develop a system that works for you.

If you have trouble taking notes, consider recording the lecture, if the instructor allows this; not all do. Many lectures are available for review on MIT OpenCourseWare.

Listen for Signal Words and Phrases:

Signal words and phrases can help you pinpoint when key ideas and formulas are going to be introduced.

Some common signal words and phrases include:

  • ‘There are 3 reasons why…” or “First…Second…Third…”
  • “And most important…” or “It is worthwhile to note”
  • “A major development…” or “A key concept…”

Some common signals for supporting material include:

  • “On the other hand…”
  • “On the contrary…”
  • “For example…”
  • “Similarly…”
  • “In contrast…”
  • “Furthermore…”

After Lecture:


Review your notes as quickly as possible after class when the material is still fresh in your mind. If possible, schedule time for this when planning your time (see Constructing a Balanced Schedule); otherwise, even five minutes before the next class starts will help.

If you have terrible handwriting, consider typing your notes. Either type them directly into your computer in class or type them up from your handwritten notes after class. Don’t type notes if your handwritten notes are clear, unless this helps you review the concepts presented.


Regardless of how you took your notes, be sure to spend time touching them up, filling in blanks, clarifying abbreviations, and making note of any questions that come up as you review them.

If anything from your notes is unclear or you have remaining questions from lecture or your readings, jot them down and have them ready to discuss with your TA in recitation.

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Qualities of a Good Roommate

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012
Whenever a teenager is about to leave home to pursue higher studies, he/she is sad at the thought of having to part from his/her parents and siblings and stay with new people. To make matters worse, they are told that most roommates are horrible and they are nothing but a particular “species” of people who are born to make our life hell! Fortunately, the reality is far from it and this I say because in my entire student life, I have had many roommates and all except a few, I got along really well with! You may say that I have been exceptionally lucky, but the fact is even you can boast of good times spent with your roommates, only if you have a few tricks up your sleeve. After all, roommates are humans too and all you need to do is try and work a little to develop a relationship with them! Just go through the following pointers to know how to deal with your roommates and be a good roommate yourself.

How to be a good roommate:

In order to be a good roommate, you should follow certain etiquette and behave with your roommates in a certain way. Here’s how.

push pin Set the Rules from the beginning.
The first step is avoiding problems and disagreements. From the very first day of your shifting in with your roomies, let them know what to expect regarding visitors, overnight guests, etc. Also, it is advisable that you talk about the different chores and responsibilities and who would tackle them. Set a schedule that clearly mentions who would be bringing the grocery, paying the electricity bills, cleaning the dishes and doing other household chores and for how long. This way the tasks would be divided equally among all the roommates, thereby eliminating the possibility of a conflict concerning these issues, in the long run. It is a good idea to put these agreements in writing, with all of you signing on it, and this is what you call a formal roommate agreement.
push pin Pay Your Bills on Time
This is probably one of the most common concerns when it comes to sharing an apartment. Since you and your roommates share everything, from the house rent to the telephone bills, it is very important that you pay your share of the bills on time, to prevent harassment to your roommates. It is not fair that your roommates pay for you every time, isn’t it? Well, of course not! So, do your bit to keep the house running smoothly and your roommates will respect you for it. Not paying rents and bills on time is simply not done and creates a bad impression of you.
push pin Clean Up After Yourself
Cleanliness in the premises (or rather the absence of it!) can be a major cause of conflict between roommates. To avoid this, it is always advisable that you take the initiative to keep at least the common areas clean, such as the kitchen, bathrooms, toilets and the living room. Doing things such as dumping dirty or unwashed clothes in the bathroom, leaving a pile of dirty dishes by the kitchen sink, or walking into the room with mud on your shoes, are simply not acceptable and should be avoided. No one likes dealing with a messy roommate, so just remember to clean up your things and your roommate is sure to thank you for that.
push pin Learn to Respect Privacy
Did you ever come across a roommate who kept on asking you questions about your whereabouts, where you had been, with whom, etc? Well, if you did, then you must have been through the horrors of having an over inquisitive roommate! To prevent your roommate(s) from having a similar impression about you, the least you can do is respect their privacy. This means that you should allow them some space and not meddle or interfere in their matters unnecessarily. In spite of the fact that you and your roommate are very close friends, you should not feel you have the right to go through their text messages, emails or their personal diary. After all, they may not be comfortable sharing their personal information with you.
push pin Remember to Communicate
Just like any other relationship, effective communication is the key to a good relationship with your roommate as well. Do not hesitate to talk to your roommate when their behavior irks or irritates you, no matter how small the issue might be. The key is to be frank and honest with your roommate and letting him/her know what you don’t appreciate in their behavior and why. This way, problems can be sorted out the very moment they come up, thus eliminating the chances of misunderstandings in the future.
push pin Avoid Borrowing Stuff
Most of the time, roommates tend to share stuff such as hand-wash, liquid dishwasher, detergent powder, etc., but all this is best avoided, and using your own stuff is the way to go. Also, if you ever need to borrow stuff from your roommate, you should follow certain etiquette in doing so. Whenever you need something that belongs to your roommate, make sure you ask his/her permission before using it. Another thing worth mentioning here is that you should never share the cost of buying an expensive appliance or furniture for your place. While you might like to believe that it is convenient to split the costs, doing so is sure to cause trouble when it is the time for one of you to move out. Who is gonna keep the LCD television? Or the expensive PlayStation? To avoid such complications, it is recommended that you buy your own stuff.
push pin Be Understanding and Considerate
While sharing living space with people you hardly know can sometimes be difficult, you can make things easier by being a little patient and considerate. It is highly unlikely that you’ll find a roommate who is exactly like you in personality and manner (you’re really lucky if you do!). So, what you need to do is respect the differences and try to build a relationship of mutual understanding. As you get to know your roommates better, you’d also know about their habits, their nature, likes and dislikes, some of which might be exactly opposite to yours in certain aspects. For example, say, your roommate is an avid reader and loves to spend her leisure hours with books, while you love to listen to music. So, how do you think you should handle such a situation? Well, you can help your roommate by using a headphone to listen to your favorite numbers while allowing her to concentrate on her reading. Sometimes, you might come across roommates from very different cultural backgrounds. In such a scenario, a bit of effort from your side can make things easier for your roommate and in turn, you can get a whole new opportunity to learn interesting things from your roommate that you never knew before! After all, the words, “Treat others the way you want to be treated”, is applicable to roommates as well!

In addition to the points discussed above, you should spend time with your roommates and involve them in some of your activities. Also, if you are expecting guests for the evening or are planning to throw a party for your friends, make sure to keep your roommates informed.

by Mukulika Mukherjee.

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How to Get Good Grades in College

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

Batting averages are an important indicator of how well a baseball player knows and plays the game. The price of a stock is a reflection of how successful a company is. The amount of salary awarded for a job is an indicator of how important that job is. And like those benchmarks, a college grade point average is a good indicator to potential employers of how well a student performed in college. But getting and maintaining a good grade point average is not an easy task – it requires determination, dedication, and a constant focus on the end result.

Make a plan and stick to it
College life is remarkably different from high school. Teachers aren’t around to remind you of the things you have to do, and the extracurricular and social activities for college students can quickly become overwhelming and time-consuming. You have to take charge of your own schedule, your own responsibilities, and your own schoolwork. Put together a calendar that lists all of your classes and class times, upcoming exams and papers that are due, and perhaps even schedule study times each week for each course. The grades you get depend solely on what you do yourself. Take control of your GPA from the get-go by making a plan for success and sticking to it.

Select the right courses, but not too many at once
When you’re planning out your college curriculum, you have a wide variety of choices available to you. There are standard curriculum courses that every student must take, but there are dozens more that you will select yourself. Be sure to pick classes that you think you can excel in, and that are interesting to you. Don’t simply accept a “standard program” of courses picked out by your student advisor; take control of your education and put together a curriculum that you will do well with. You’ll perform better and make better grades if you select classes that stimulate you and keep your interest. But be sure not to overload yourself. Although some students think they should take as many hours as allowed by the school, doing so can easily cause you to fail. A good rule of thumb is to take no more than five courses each semester, and focus on one major degree. Every major degree program requires at least 10 to 12 specific courses, so loading yourself with classes you’re forced to attend can wreck your GPA.

Be present and pay attention
Unlike high school, college professors don’t take attendance and send you to the principals office if you cut class. Your attendance in class is entirely up to you, and you won’t be penalized for cutting class. Except that for every lecture you miss out on, you risk irreparable damage to your GPA by not having the information you’ll need to pass exams. In many classes, the major part of midterm and final tests are taken from lectures, not from reading materials. So you need to be present in every class, and take notes religiously. Don’t worry about how your notes are structured, and don’t try to adhere to some specialized note-taking system; just be sure to get down everything your professor says. You can clean up your notes later. Pay special attention to anything that is written on the board, and any PowerPoint presentations that might be used.

Take your studies seriously, because your future depends on them
A high school diploma is necessary to get into college, but once you’re there the diploma no longer matters. But a college degree will set the tone for your career, and for the rest of your life. Students who place their college studies at the top of their list of priorities regularly get A’s and have high GPA’s. Budget your time appropriately and find a good environment for studying. Limit your social networking to actual downtime and to scheduled free time. Use appropriate scholarly materials and websites for doing research – Wikipedia is great for casual research, but should never be used for college papers. Google search engine may provide a wealth of links to information about the topic at hand, but be sure to choose only sources that are academic or professional in nature, to be sure you’re gaining access to legitimate, accurate information.

The most important part of being able to achieve a good GPA and pave the way to a rewarding post-grad career is to believe in yourself.

by Buzzle Staff and Agencies.

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Small Business Ideas for College Students

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

College students consider working at fast food joints as the best option to earn money. However, starting a small business can also prove to be a great idea to earn extra money without spending much time. Let us have a look at the different options available for earning money while continuing the studies.

Small Business Ideas for Students

For beginners, these cool small business ideas should prove to be a good source of earning money.

Tutoring: It is a perfect business for students who want to earn only as much money as is required to cover the monthly expenses. In order to start tutoring, you should consider teaching subjects like Mathematics, Science and English. This business doesn’t require any kind of investment and it is possible to earn enough to pay for monthly expenses.

Handmade Crafts and Items: Selling handmade craft items can help you earn enough cash required for your daily expenses. The craft works, paintings, knitting, etc. could be sold at fairs, gatherings, etc. You could also think of selling art and craft items. The art and craft items one has prepared in his school days can be used for the purpose.

Yard Work: It is one of the small business ideas for college students who wish to earn money without spending anything. One can mow grass, carry out weeding, etc. and charge people for the service. If you have some know-how of gardening, you can help neighbors in giving their garden an artistic and beautiful appearance. Tending vegetable patches of your neighbors can also help you earn a decent amount of cash.

Freelancing: The activity of freelancing includes writing for newspapers, doing photography, etc. It is a creative job and helps in bringing out the best in your work. However, there are a lot of uncertainties involved in this activity. For example, the news need to be appealing and one may not get paid if the employer doesn’t find it interesting. However, one of the advantages of freelancing is that one doesn’t have to invest anything beforehand.

Laundry Service: Starting a laundry service is one of the good business ideas for students to earn money. One can advertise this small business through mouth publicity. Since washing clothes is quite a boring job and not many people are ready to do it, one could find a better business opportunity in this work. A good washing machine, capable of washing multiple clothes would prove to be helpful in easing out your work. Moreover, you could also save time for studies and other extracurricular activities.

Cleaning: Just like laundry, you could think of starting a cleaning business. College students always need an affordable cleaning service. Being a college student yourself, you would find it easy to market your service and thereby, prosper in this business. You can add food-delivery to this service of cleaning. It won’t require you to search for a market separately. This way, you get to learn new tricks of the business.

Data Entry Jobs: It is a kind of job that can be done even by a layman since it doesn’t require much skills except for speedy typing. It is a good source of earning money for students in their free time. Basic knowledge of handling computers is enough to do the data entry job. A data entry job is considered amongst the popular online businesses for college students.

Setting up a Website: A person who is good at working with websites and computers as a whole can try out this activity. You could earn more than enough for a month’s expenses through this endeavor. However, setting up a website requires in-depth knowledge of programming languages and functioning of computers. In short, it is a geek’s job to set up a fully functional website.

Entertainment: If a person is fond of playing a musical instrument like piano, guitar, etc. he/she should try to earn money by performing at wedding receptions, parties or other such occasions.

College students have access to hundreds of people who make their marketing job much easier. In fact, the whole college can be viewed as a potential market, provided a person is ready to work hard in reaching out to as many people as possible. There are however, a few things you need to take into consideration before starting any business on campus. First of all, you should check whether the university policies allow for any business activity. Also, you shouldn’t make your roommate’s life hell just because you are churning out profits from your business. Finally, the most important thing – studies should not be ignored. Because you are a college student, your first priority should be studying sincerely. The business should not affect your academic performance.

by Shashank Nakate.

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Study Tips for the College Undergrad

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

So, you’re sitting in your dorm room, eating instant ramen noodles and thinking to yourself, “Hey, if I recall correctly, I’m here to learn something!” You pull your books out from underneath your beat up futon and try to read a few chapters, only to discover that it’s not going so well.

This is a scenario many college undergraduates find themselves in. It’s no wonder, either. Most of them hardly ever had to study in high school so now they just don’t know how to do it! I know this was what I experienced when I went off to college, and many of my friends were the same way. Here are a few tips and tricks we learned along the way as we learned how to study.

Get Out of the Dorm

Living in the dorms is a great experience, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not a place conducive to good study habits. There are far too many distractions. People can knock on your door and ask you to go out to a party, or you might find yourself falling asleep on that comfortable futon your parents bought you. You’re better off finding a quiet corner of the library or, my personal favorite, pulling up a chair at a coffee shop and sipping a cup of tea as you get your work done.

All Nighters = Bad Idea

I’m sure this comes as no surprise to most of you, but all nighters are BAD. Not only does it screw with your sleep schedule, but when your brain is deprived of sleep it doesn’t work as well. You won’t remember most of what you studied during an all nighter, and if you’re writing a paper the quality will be far less than if you’d done it at 3 PM rather than 3 AM.

Choose Study Groups Wisely

Studying with others is a good idea. Turning a study group into a party group, however, is not. If you study with people you know you’re going to spend most of your time chatting with, you’re not going to get much done. You’re better off studying with a group of acquaintances that are in the same class than a group of friends you’d normally go out on the town with. If you study with people from your classes who you didn’t know prior, the one thing you’ll have in common is that you’re in the same class so you’ll find yourself talking more about that class and less about who is dating who among your group of friends.

Work Study!!!!

Many colleges have work study jobs available. These jobs allow you to make money and get homework done at the same time. Can it get any better? These sort of jobs might include security monitors, computer lab attendants, or parking lot attendants. These jobs are highly coveted so don’t expect to come by one too easily, but if you can get one it can be a great motivator for studying. If you’ve got nothing better to do and you’re getting paid at the same time, why not study?

Turn Off the ‘Puter

The internets, though great for researching and other homework helps, are a major distraction. Turn off your computer if you don’t need it. Facebook can wait, but that ten page paper due tomorrow cannot.

Learning to study isn’t too difficult if you’re willing to put in the time. Be patient with yourself if you’re a freshman – adjusting to college coursework is tough, especially if you went to an easy high school like I did where studying was largely a myth.

by Janna Seliger.

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How to Stay Focused While Studying

Monday, October 15th, 2012

Sob! I can’t focus. Do you understand? How do I study when I am:

  • Always hungry and tired?
  • Missing the fun around?
  • Physically uncomfortable?
  • Going to meet my girlfriend in the evening?
  • Just not able to study!

Ah, sit back and relax.

Those weird and pathetically ugly autotrophic organisms crawling over your brains, algebraic equations and logarithms erupting volcanoes in your mind, countless chapters on the World War bombarding bombs around you, and you? Having your nose to grindstone, trying to memorize at least one sentence, so that an hour later, you’re proud of yourself for having learned at least something. Isn’t it astonishing? It may gross you out to watch a daily soap that doesn’t interest you. But once that textbook is open, you won’t mind giving a watch to the idiot-box, would you? You may hate those kids who play baseball in the park nearby, but you won’t mind watching them by the door sill, even when you’re yet to finish off with two chapters. Why?

Why does everything else seem so interesting when you have to study? Why do you have to state punch-drunk excuses to get up from your desk, when your mom is right on your head ensuring you’re studying properly? To tell you the truth, it is extremely easy for teachers and parents to tell you to focus. However, the reality is, sometimes, it just doesn’t happen, no matter how hard you try. If similar things happen to you too, you aren’t alone. Let’s find out how to stay focused, while studying regardless of the chores you’re given, the people you’ve kept waiting, the phone calls you’re yet to answer, and your mind which refuses to concentrate. Hold on tight to each tip that follows below.

Switch Off Your Cell phone
Dreadful pointer, I know. Nothing’s worse for a teenager to stay without their cell phone even for a minute. However, if you can’t find yourself focused for a long time, you know that it’s the constant beeps in your cell phone that aren’t letting you learn that answer. Stop texting your friends saying ‘Dude, I can’t study’ or ‘how many chapters did you get done with’. If the reply says they’re done with quite a lot of chapters, you’ll get infuriated and troubled. Even if they aren’t through with a lot, you aren’t realizing but you’re wasting a good portion of your time sending texts. Remember, you don’t have enough time to kill, do you?

Soothing Music in the Background Helps
Bizarre as it may sound, while stuff such as TV, PC, or MP3 players are a big no-no while studying, research claims that listening to soothing music such as ballads or blues actually helps you stay focused. Try it. It might work for you. Create a playlist of some 50 soft ballads and blues, and put the playlist to play. One thing here worth mulling over is that, don’t spend hours and hours making that playlist. Just do with what all songs you have. Don’t keep on downloading new songs and waste time. You know, it’ll distract you from a hundred sounds outside at the least.

A New Timetable Every Day
How many timetables have you made/designed/drawn/followed? Hardly any. You see, the fault is, we plan our schedule for a month, and end up goofing up with it within just a couple of days. One of my personal techniques, tried and tested, is creating a new timetable every day. You don’t need to draw your schedule on a chart. Instead, just stare at the clock, and divide your hours. Suppose, 2 hours of continuous study require a 30-minute break thereafter. Chill, relax, watch TV, and then go back to study for another two hours. You don’t need to keep a check on your timetable as it does nothing but scare you even more. Just be true to yourself, and try not to get distracted in those two hours.

Try Different Places to Study
Your room, it’s a madhouse of stuff. You have a mirror, to keep you occupied for hours (here, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a girl or a guy). You have a great collection of hard rock albums, a handful of movie DVDs, and what not to divert your attention. How about studying in your living room? Or may be your parents’ bedroom? The idea is, looking for a place that doesn’t have much to focus upon is the best way of staying organized while studying. A lonely corner in your house is perfect in this case. Hey! Why don’t you go to your campus library, if things get worse? It has the perfect ambiance, silence, and a librarian standing on your head, every time! Now this will work for sure, trust me.

Studying. Now how conveniently they abbreviated ‘Student-Dying’ as Studying.

by Veethi Telang.

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How to Deal with a Messy Roommate

Friday, October 12th, 2012

Living away from home is quite troublesome anyway. You have to take care of everything on your own; paying the bills, being efficient at work for career growth, managing relationships and taking care of your own cooking and cleaning. You are all by yourself in this big world without a family for a support system to depend on, in the new city. ‘Home’, ah! Don’t we just love the word ‘home’? That’s the only place you can go back to for some peace and relaxation after a long day’s work. That is the place to unwind and keep all your tensions away. But, what if you came home to a kitchen sink overflowing with dirty dishes, piled up laundry, cockroaches feasting on last week’s pizza, the television that is always left on irrespective of the fact that even the cockroaches are not interested in watching it and beds that have been robbed off their sheets? The stink in the house is nauseating and you don’t even know what that is. Then, you hit the bathroom and the pot is dirty as hell. Familiar with this scenario? Of course, we have all been down the road of living with a dirty roommate! And some poor souls are still stuck in the rut. God bless them!

“I don’t need to pay a therapist to give me crap. I have a roommate that does it for free”. ~ Ally McBeal
Sometimes it’s just not possible to divide space between the two of you for everything; refrigerators, microwaves, bathrooms spaces, etc. Women tend to be bothered by unclean or shabby roommates more than men because most men tend be messy in varying degrees so they cope up with each other’s mess. More women are comparatively cleanliness freaks because they have been brought up to perform household chores with perfection. But, if your female roommate is so messy that her habits are getting onto your nerves, keep your cool. There is a solution to every problem and you can totally deal with such a roommate. I am guessing you have already tried talking to your roommate about dividing responsibilities to clean the house and that hasn’t worked and now the messiness is intolerable. Nagging never really helped anyone.

Living With a Messy Roommate

  • If your roommate is bringing work to home and frequently leaves behind 10 piles of papers everywhere in the house so much that you cannot open the window without blowing them away, switch on the fan. Yes, let it become a mess so your roommate will learn to keep his/her things in place the next time.
  • Some scientists have discovered the effect of smell on human brain. While stink may prompt you to roll up your sleeves and clean up, some people are stimulated by the smell of detergent for doing the same. Spray a glass/household cleaner into the air just before your roommate walks in. He/she might be motivated to clean up.
  • Do not agree to having any parties at home. If you do, be prepared to be the only one cleaning the house and getting rid of dried up *God knows what that is* from the floor, throwing away the left overs and making your house look like humans inhabit it. Your roommate won’t help even if they promise they will.
  • When your roommate brings over someone they really like, a date or any other person, go up to your roommate in their company’s presence and remind them how they haven’t cleaned up the dirty dishes since a week or that they should really use a clean pot because you heard it can give you infections down there or that he/she has been picking up clothes from the floor to wear and then dropping the dirty laundry back in the same pile. Jokingly suggest that washing his/her face, using all that makeup/perfume won’t work on the germs that will end up giving them skin diseases. Be nice and cheerful all the time like you are so used to your roommate’s way of living. Dirtiness is a turn off for most people. Humiliation will definitely get them to clean their business.
  • Take your roommate’s favorite tee or dress and cut it out to make it the new dusting cloth. When they ask about it, say you didn’t know your roommate wanted to keep it because they threw it on the floor and it seemed like the tee or dress was waiting to be discarded. Ouch!
  • In a frat house or a sorority house, you could ask your house father/mother to help you deal with the situation by talking your roommate out of his/her dirty habits. Else, you could request them to have your roommate shifted to another room.
  • Another technique that might work is that instead of complaining to your roommate about “his” or “her” messiness, try saying, “WE need to clean up the house because we look like pigs staying in a sty”. Be friendly when you do that. You will avoid making it an issue and more of a group activity for both of you to clean. That might be enough motivation for them to clean.
  • Beware, this one is not a solution but a warning. Do not ever get a roommate who has a pet (any animal that has legs or crawls). You won’t be able to live with hair stuck to your couch, pee on the floor or a house that smells like Bart Simpson just farted in there. Keep a policy of no pets allowed.

by Urvashi Pokharna.

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The Elusive Benefits of Study Groups

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

Faculty often recommend study groups to students, especially in large courses or in courses where students typically struggle with the material. “You’ll do better on exams in this course if you work together with some other students.” Beyond these verbal recommendations or some description of the benefits of study groups in the syllabus, most faculty leave the formation and activities of study groups entirely up to students.

Does participation in study groups formed this way make a difference in exam scores? Not according to a study of students in three sections of a 700-student, four-credit lecture and lab introductory biology course. Researchers had predicted that students who participated in study groups would score higher on exams in the course, but they did not. Their scores were not lower, but participating in a study group did not improve exam scores or scores on a pre- and post-content exam.

The question is why, and some possible answers can be found in survey response data. Students were encouraged to complete four different online surveys that contained both closed and open-ended questions covering topics that included previous experience in study groups, what motivated students to participate in study group, what activities were completed in these groups, what problems emerged in, and what benefits they gained from the study group experience.

Only 14 percent of the students in this course participated in a study group throughout the entire semester. Almost 55 percent reported that they had never participated in a study group in any course. Those who had never participated in study groups or didn’t in this course offered a variety of reasons why they chose not to. Included among the reasons were the failure of participants in study groups to contribute equally (various versions of members not carrying their weight and not being reliable), the lack of productivity in the study groups accompanied by the sense that it is just more efficient to study on your own, the perception that study groups are easily distracted and lack focus (someone starts talking about something else and the group stops studying), and logistical problems primarily associated with finding convenient times and places to meet.

Of the students who participated in study groups preparing for the first exam in this class, 85 percent believed being in the group helped their grade. Among the benefits regularly reported on the surveys were how study groups offered members help and clarification. The groups were a place where students could get questions answered. There was also what the researchers called the “benefit of social learning.” Students understood that it was helpful to them to explain material to other students and that listening to others talk about the content helped them understand it better.

The research on group work of various sorts confirms that groups can offer students powerful learning experiences. What this analysis shows is that students (could we add faculty?) aren’t born knowing how to work in groups, in this case how to study collectively. And without a basic understanding of small-group dynamics, it is unlikely that those in groups will accrue the potential benefits of collaboration.

by Maryellen Weimer, PhD.

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