Study Skills

About my approach to study skills in a Study Skills Setting

A Study Skills Centre needs a Resources Room. The layout would involve three kinds of use of computers (probably dedicated to the tasks). The first would be to use the Heritage system in enquiry mode only so that students could compile library sources for themselves. There would be support materials for this use, and for Library of Congress system and Dewey giving effective library searches anywhere. The second use would be for Intranet and Internet access. These would be supported by materials on effective searching. The third use would be tasks, such as statistical work, word processing and web page authoring. They would be intended for immediate tasks regarding research gathering and study skills.

As well as these computers there would be an extraction from the main library to shelves in the room of books on how to learn , of the LB 1049 category, and research methods and research design around the H62 category. The shelves might also store previous dissertations,  distance learning materials, donated relevant  staff lecture and tutorial notes . All these books and materials would be available on a reference or short loan basis. There would also be a photocopier. The number of chairs and tables in this Resources Room, unless it was also a seminar room, would be limited because it would not be the intention of the room to be available for ordinary subject work.

The room or rooms would be the  base for the member of staff  coordinating the Research Methods and Study Skills resources and courses.

So it follows that the Centre would facilitate:

Obviously all but the last would be on a drop in and open learning basis. So although they may attend formal courses they would be able to refresh and make more effective their learning at any time of the year. For example, a student about to interviewing in their research for a dissertation could call in, refresh himself or herself on the pros and cons, the pitfalls to avoid and making more it effective, whether to used structured or semi-structured, and so make a better task of the work.

What the Reesources Room would not be about was providing subject material resources, just as it is not a place of expertise on their subjects. It is would not be a place for writing subject essays - like, "here is a spare computer".

In Grimsby College I did not concern myself with the content of the student's research methods as such, except through use of my Business Studies and general knowledge and current affairs informed background - the content was for their subject teachers. I brought in my social science background to focus on research methods and, I might add, commentary on producing more effective pieces of work.

I am a kind of academic Jack of many trades which is useful in a supportative facilitating role like Study Skills. I taught and would continue to teach in a manner that encourages independent learning - in other words, projecting people on to do their own learning and their own subjects. I would be able to inject my broad social science and research experience background. In my Ph.D I did two literature reviews, semi-structured interviewing, participant observation and while it was an M.Phil I did an introductory research methods course. In my recent MA in Theology I did a literature survey and used observation. I have been selected to work with Open Learning. I also can draw on Business Studies teacher training and Adult Education teaching. So I know something about assisting people to study more effectively.

From my experoiencing of teaching even degree students, I'd want to see how their writing looks earlier, to increase its focus, which should have benefits across their subjects. We need to design, or draw on, existing exercises that improve performance.

I have most recently developed library skills in transferring books from Dewey to National Library of Medicine classification and Library of Congress, using Heritage as is installed in the library here. That would increase students' library skills.

I could encourage students to set up their own simple web pages. My own skill here is more complex HTML pages and structures. I have set up web pages at a conference and holiday centre in Scotland and begun to train its webmaker. Students can learn about sharing information and the difference between this and plagiarism. Web work can give a buzz to students and developenthusiasm as well as communication. When I was teaching I did unofficially teach some HTML to assist a Tourism and Marketing project, although I was reluctant to step on others' professional toes.

I think the Grimsby students got on with my informal style, rather worried perhaps that I seemed very demanding but relieved that I did mark positively especially for where it was deserved.

So therefore I suggest that I can offer teaching, various computer, library, research and study skills.


Adrian Worsfold

Pluralist - Liberal and Thoughtful