Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Studying for your exams

I'm hearing a fair bit of pre-exam anxiety out there, so I thought that I'd offer some suggestions to make your process of studying a bit smoother.

I found these basic guidelines from the University of New South Wales. Forget about the first section, but sections 2 & 3 (Preparation & Revising to remember) are quite good.

In abscence of previous exams, it might be a good idea to ask yourself when studying - "What questions are likely to be asked?". This is a useful technique which was not discussed in the guidelines above. Create a list of questions that you can ask yourself or others. This is particularly useful if you have a study group. Then you can ask each other the questions that you've made. In a group of 4/5, you can easily build up quite a few questions.

To guide you in creating these questions, I can tell you that the questions in the exams will mostly tend to either test your understanding of key ideas/principles/models, or test your ability to relate your understanding of these things to massage practice (often through the use of cases).

Over the next month I will make available to you a number of cases that you can use to apply the theory that you've learnt in Stress management & Intermediate massage.

In the hopes that it's useful to someone I'm going to outline my typical study process here...
  1. Organise my notes so that I have all of the information which has been provided. (Most of your notes are already "filed" for you via the course blog. If you haven't already done this I suggest going through your emails to record discussions, and getting some kind of organisation for electronic files)
  2. Create an overview of each subject which states all of the main topics in each subject
  3. Write study notes which summarise the main ideas in each topic in sufficient detail so that I don't need to go back to the original notes. This process ensures that you understand the content.
  4. Take note of the areas which the lecturer has focussed on more, and prioritise these in my study
  5. If you don't understand anything, keep at it until you do. Seek other perspectives if your notes don't make it clear. Talk to your lecturer, your classmates, surf the net.
  6. Memorise important pieces of information (e.g. if you think that I might ask you what are the 5 principles of palpation then memorise this).
  7. Create diagrams to represent relationships.
  8. Try applying the concepts to the types of examples that you are likely to see in the exam. This is a bit trickier for you because there aren't any previous exams, but I can say that the case studies that you've had so far are along the lines of what you should expect.
  9. As you become more familiar with the material you should be able to reduce your study notes down to key concepts. This happens because learning involves making connections between related ideas. When the links are strong enough you can represent groups of knowledge with a single statement.
  10. Before the exam allow yourself some mental space to prepare yourself for performance. For some people this involves not studying at all on the day of the exam. I usually liked to quickly skim over my revised study notes just before going into the exam.
This process is not for everyone. You will have learnt a bit this year about how you learn effectively. Use the knowing now.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Completing study skills

Here's a list of what you need to work your way through to complete Study Skills.

Task 6 - instructions.

Task 7 - You will need to work your way through the Setting Personal learning goals module to complete this assessment task, and if you have not had much experience of academic writing, the Academic writing learning module is highly recommended.

Task 8 - This task is supported by the learning module - Time management.

Task 9 & 10 - If you've completed the previous learning modules, you should be prepared to complete this one. It's good to allow some time between Task 7 & Task 10 (if that's possible) so that you can get feedback on your essay writing style.

Please let me know when you've completed Task 6.