Brief 7: A Course Outline of Six Sessions which I could deliver. A brief outline of the topics to be covered.

Course Outline - Study skills

Six sessions of one hour each, which would run alongside students' other courses running at the beginning of the academic year and which all students attend.

1Brief introduction
Lectures and discussion groups/ seminars
2Questions about lectures and discussion groups/ seminars
Effective reading 1 (including on-line use)
3Effective reading 2 (retention from sources)
4Writing (in general)
5Writing (essays and reports)
6Writing references and bibliography


Progression according to need: meaning that it starts with lectures and discussion groups/ seminars, with discussions and questions after they have attended some, moving swiftly on to reading where more advice is needed to be effective as students start to read, but a need for depth and so continuation into another week, followed by writing, first in general and then specific, as students start to write work to hand in, completed with advice on consistent referencing and bibliography.

The course would be handout driven, aware that students can consult these throughout different courses they attend for advice. Teaching methods would only illuminate some of the content areas but they would be in handouts.

Some key content areas

It is from this material that objectives are derived in terms of teaching - these are not in themselves objectives - and the length of content determines distribution of content over sessions and the extent of handout support:

AllThe need to build vocabulary: technical terms, simplifying presentation whilst knowing technical terms, clarity with development of level of complexity.
ReadingDrop some of own habits, do not read in a linear fashion, hyperlink connected internet texts (a method of reading?), skim and focus, previewing first, how to preview on the internet; construct own meanings, engage with the author, compare reading intentions with author's, underlying assumptions, author's balance versus a cause, argument flows and leaps, witting testimony and unwitting testimony (Arthur Marwick, historian); what is retained: note making, a brief 10 minute look at a book to a review (phew!), construct an argument afterwards, rapid review, "knowing" the book, writing a summary, own notes assisting big picture, mental picture of own library of owned books and books to borrow and articles and internet sources, cards on books.
LecturesGive common ground/ guide to syllabus/ summarise syllabus, summarise difficult to find literature, focussing reading, bend a key textbook towards syllabus; why going, what if didn't go; make notes even with handouts, tape recording adds nothing, add to handouts, abandoning lined paper, avoiding rushing notes, noting what is unfamiliar, headings and bubbles and explosion diagrams, sharing notes, evaluating and adding afterwards, revision notes from the lecture notes.
Discussionsthrough the chair and directly to anyone, take responsibility, withdrawing, advancing, avoiding personality clashes, changing seat; discussing online via newsgroups and lists, add in own understanding; preparations to the point, using visual materials (advanced presenting).
WritingCreative phase: build and build, free writing, repeat and develop, "steamrolling"/ "ploughing on"), keep writing; editing phase: cut and refine; titles and headings; written for three minutes reading time, how it would look in an email, varieties of web page, written in 30 minutes reading time, reflective writing in a learning journal, stripping out technical terms.
Writing essaysEssay planning; clear introduction, purpose, themes, hypotheses; clear middle, narrative argument, data, linked supports, holding close to requirements, discipline, weighting points; clear conclusion, similar to introduction except hypotheses proved or disproved, denouement restated; length in mind but no slave to word count (unless absolute), if written avoid further waffle, if need to write more write it; flow but formal, tell a story/ narrative, build a style, avoid plagarism; evaluate afterwards, stripping essay into revision notes.
Writing reportHighly structured, research/ project/ investigation; reports have genres, lab report, government report, Church of England report, theoretical report, field trip; writing the report during the process and changing the process, keeping all details, refine the presentation afterwards' short paragraphs, prune out excess, audience level for technical terms; title, problem, question, intention, aim, cover page; contents; illustrations, listed; abstract, objectives, summary without giving away the whole plot; recommendations, where the research leads; appendices, notes, additional points; acknowledgements, all who helped; discussion and results in detail, body of work, presented so that another can repeat the method, materials given; summary, focussed results, nothing new; conclusion, succinct, do not repeat summary.
ReferencesQuotations: succinct, illustrate a point, flavour of the work, exact words, short quotations in text body in quotes, long quotations separated and indented with no quotes, punctuation, changed emphasis admitted, punctuation unchanged, never present as own, reduce quotation and write around it to introduce; internet, plagarism temptation, reference it by time and date and URL, give other links; bracketed reference, author surname, date, letter after date where two source dates same; footnotes, same page, brief; endnotes, end of chapter, end of book/ article, longer; two authors quote both, three authors

Bibliography: Book: author surname, comma, author initials, date of last publication not reprint (bracketed? comma after brackets otherwise before), capitalised italicised title, colon, italicised subtitle not necessarily capitalised, comma, edition if necessary, comma, location (if not London (?)), colon, publisher, comma with pages in range if necessary, full stop, or no punctuation throughout, or consistent alternatives; article/ chapter in reader/ collection: author surname, comma, initials, comma, capitalised title in single quotes, comma, source not in quotes capitalised and italicised, comma, date (unbracketed), comma, issue, comma, number, comma, publication place (if not London (?)), colon, publisher, or no punctuation, or consistent alternatives; footnotes/ endnotes may contain similar bibliographic detail with more detail earliest and page number/s with less detail later, will imply shorter bibliography at end of the other sources.

From content to objectives and Lesson Plan

The following is a lesson plan based on what is practical in terms of one session of Study Skills: Effective Reading 2 which is guided by what students must know than what students should know or could know. This selection process by group or individual should lead on to creating some practical objectives for the lesson.

Lesson Plan

Lesson Plan
Name of Teacher Adrian Worsfold
Date Study Skills
Time 1 hour
Place and room (Exercise)
Group (Exercise)
Subject Effective Reading 2
Resources OHP, OHTs, many prepared handouts, lecture notes, various text books
Aim of Lesson To enhance reading and retention
Objectives The student will be able to:
  • Rewrite in note form a page of a relevant book
  • Write a card of a book giving its main subject and emphasis
  • Write a 500 words or less review of main points of a book with special reference to any bias or cause
 Evaluation of Lesson: 
 (to be further developed in Learning Development Journal) 

 Still to do:

Time Lesson content
Delivery methods
Assessment method Resources
Teacher activity Student activity
15 minutes Not reading in a linear form: reviews, notes & cards Questions on existing habits, give out all handouts for later use Listen, answers, write From following activity OHTs with bullet and card examples and a review's main points
10 mins A page of a relevant book Hand out extra books, photocopies and tasks, walk around May use own books, pick any page, rewrite complete paragraphs within the page in summary form Going around and discussing Students' own books, extra books and photocopied sections
15 minutes Writing a book card Describe task, walk around Writing a card - author, title, date in a manner to assist indexing, and leave a line and a summary of the whole book in a few lines Seeing the work done, asking students which books they "know" and where should they look when they don't know Student's own books, extra books
15 minutes Book review Describe, limited to 500 words, mention can be any book, can't take books away (thus only practice on extra books) Looking at various parts of the book like titles, conclusions, endings (as for card) and also aspects of chapters Handed in homework Students' own books, extra books.
5 minutes Briefest summary Speak that whole aim is trying to build effective means of reading, using and knowing sources Students permitted to carry on writing, some pausing to listen before leaving Evident in own work in other subjects! Nothing specific beyond existing materials


Marshall, L., Rowland, F. (1998), A Guide to Learning Independently, 3rd edition, Buckingham: Open University Press.

Own experience


City & Guilds 730 section of the Learning area of website