Sunday, 2 October 2011

The Case for Online Learning


Pew Research recently conducted a survey in spring 2011. The survey consisted of a telephone survey using a nationally representative sample of adults ages 18 and older; and an online survey done in association with the Chronicle of Higher Education polling presidents of two-year and four-year private, public, and for-profit colleges and universities. The findings make a strong case for colleges and universities to embrace the online learning environment.
Among those who have graduated in the past decade, the figure rises to 46%. Adults who have taken a course online have a somewhat more positive view of the value of this learning format: 39% say a course taken online provides the same educational value as one taken in person, a view shared by only 27% of those who have not taken an online course.

Traditional universities consider new approaches


With the continuing problems of rising costs and unsatisfactory graduation rates, innovative web-based approaches to higher education are being piloted around the state of Texas winning over students and even faculty and administrators.

Revision and Exam Tips

Everyone feels nervous about taking exams. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your revision time and keep those nerves under control.
It’s important to remember that an examination is a test of learning, not memory. Examiners want to see evidence that you have drawn on your knowledge to develop a reasoned argument, rather than replicate course notes and textbook facts. Revision should be a process of consolidating understanding rather than cramming as much information as possible before the morning of the exam.

Contents
1. Study skills – how and where to study

2. Revision plan – the secret to exam success is planning

3. Last-minute revision tips – what can you do when time is short?

4. Dealing with exam nerves – don’t let the stress get on top of you

5. Exam tips – taking the exam

6. Exam tips – after the exam


Exam Techniques, Tips and Tricks

Part A) Preparing for an Exam

1) Revise actively.

Just reading through your notes is the worst possible way to revise.  Well, OK, perhaps not the worst possible, but it’s really not very good.  The more of your brain you can engage in the revision, the more you will remember.  Memory is not a box in one part of your brain that things are either in or out.  Memory is spread out everywhere: there’s verbal memory, visual memory, audio memory, muscle memory, all sorts.  The more your brain does with the information, the more you will remember.  

So don’t just read.  Make up poems and mnemonics.  Summarise the notes.  Set them to music.  Extract key points and write them down yourself somewhere – even if you’re just copying them out, this is better than just reading, since more of your brain is involved.  Make up quizzes and do them.  Write limericks.  Above all – do problems.  Make up your own if you run out.  Get active!

Monday, 26 September 2011

Compare and Contrast Essay Writing Tips

Compare and Contrast Essay Writing. The Outline

Definition:


In custom comparison essays, you take two or more things and discuss how they are the same and how they are different.

General guidelines:
  • choose the most interesting topic from the list of comparison / contrast essay topics;
  • chose two or more items, that need to be compared / contrasted in essay;
  • look for common ground, on which you will be doing your evaluation (it’s hopeless to compare William Shakespeare and dumpsters);
  • if you want to be even more specific, compare/contrast only one side of selected subjects;
Our tips on essay writing:
  • When you write a custom compare and contrast essay, you can end up evaluating good and bad sides. There’s nothing wrong with it, but make sure that you know what you mean by “good” and “bad”.
  • Don’t turn your custom contrast essay paper into a mechanical action in which you firstly state similarities, and secondly provide a list of differences.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

10 Tips for Effective Listening Skills

Listening makes our loved ones feel worthy, appreciated, interesting, and respected. Ordinary conversations emerge on a deeper level, as do our relationships. When we listen, we foster the skill in others by acting as a model for positive and effective communication.
In our love relationships, greater communication brings greater intimacy. Parents listening to their kids helps build their self-esteem. In the business world, listening saves time and money by preventing misunderstandings. And we always learn more when we listen than when we talk.
Listening skills fuel our social, emotional and professional success, and studies prove that listening is a skill we can learn.
The Technique. Active listening is really an extension of the Golden Rule. To know how to listen to someone else, think about how you would want to be listened to.

While the ideas are largely intuitive, it might take some practice to develop (or re-develop) the skills. Here’s what good listeners know — and you should, too:

Top Ten Ways to Listen to Boring Lectures


Dr. Ralph Nichols says at the end of a 10-minute lecture most college freshmen will have retained only half of it. Then, 48 hours later they will have forgotten half of what they did remember.
Want to do better than that? Then, use effective listening techniques. Here are the "Top ten ways to listen to a lecture."
  1. Choose to find the subject useful.
    • Poor listeners dismiss most lectures as dull and irrelevant. They turn off quickly.
    • Effective listeners separate the wheat from the chaff. They choose to listen to discover new knowledge.
  2. Concentrate on the words and message, not on the professor's looks, clothes or delivery.
    • Poor listeners notice faults in a lecturer's appearance or delivery.
    • Effective listeners strive to pick every professor's brain for self-gain.
  3. When you hear something you're not sure you agree with, react slowly and thoughtfully.
    • Poor listeners stop listening to the speaker and start listening to themselves. They either passively reject what is being said or they launch into impassioned rebuttals (to themselves).
    • Effective listeners don't jump to conclusions and then disengage. They keep conclusions tentative while getting more information.
  4. Identify the "big ideas," those fundamental concepts to which everything else in the lecture is related.
    • Poor listeners say, "I listen only for facts." They may retain a few of those facts, but the information is usually garbled.
    • Effective listeners look for foundational concepts. They grab key ideas and use them as anchor points for the entire lecture.
  5. Adjust your note taking system to the lecturer's pattern.
    • Some poor listeners attempt to outline everything, believing an outline and notes are the same thing. They get frustrated when they cannot see "points A, B and C."
    • Effective listeners adjust their note-taking to the organizational pattern used by the lecturer.
  6. Stay attentive.
    • Poor listeners let their minds to wander.
    • Effective listeners remain focused and actively try to absorb material.
  7. Aggressively tackle difficult material.
    • When poor listeners encounter a tough topic, they stop absorbing and let things start bouncing off them.
    • Effective listeners condition themselves to be interested in challenging matters. They find a challenge in grasping the meaning of what is being said -- no matter how difficult the subject.
  8. Don't get derailed by emotionally charged "buzz" words that trigger negative responses.
    • Poor listeners tune people out on the basis of a few words.
    • Effective listeners don't let the emotional baggage of a word hinder them from getting at the substance of a lecture.
  9. Get to know the professor personally.
    • Poor listeners see professors as talking heads.
    • Effective listeners like to pick up interesting facts about professors (personal history, family life, hobbies, etc.).
  10. Understand and use the differential between the speed of speaking and the speed of thinking. We think at about 400 words per minute. That's four times faster      than most speakers can talk.
    • Poor listeners drift back and forth between a lecture and thoughts about other things.
    • Effective listeners use the thinking/speaking differential in three ways:
      1. Riding the crest of the wave by trying to anticipate the next point of the lecture.
      2. Evaluating what the lecturer is using for supporting evidence.
      3. Periodically summarizing the lecture to themselves.

Sparked by material in the December 15, 1999 issue of "The Professor in the Classroom," © by Leadership Lane

How to Be an Effective Listener

The first four chapters discussed the need for effective listening, fallacies about listening, the process of listening, and the types of listening. They provided the background you need to improve your listening skills. This chapter is a prescriptive one. It offers practical suggestions on how to be a better listener.
While there are many ways to construct a list of suggestions, we will consider them in terms of what works best in three major categories:
1. What you think about listening.
2. What you feel about listening.
3. What you do about listening.
You can learn to listen effectively; look now at the components of that learning: thinking, feeling, doing.

What You Think about Listening

Although thinking, feeling, and doing go hand in hand, the thinking (or cognitive) domain of learning is perhaps the best place to begin. After all, effective listening takes effort—it requires maximum thinking power. Here are six suggestions.
1. Understand the complexities of listening. Most of us take good listening for granted. Therefore, we don’t work very hard at improving. But listening is a complex activity, and its complexity explains the emphasis given in previous chapters to understanding the fallacies, processes, and types of listening.
Knowing the fallacies about listening can keep you from being trapped by them. Knowing that the process involves more than just receiving messages will help you focus on not just receiving, but the other components as well. Recognizing the five major types of listening will help you to consciously direct your energies toward the type of listening required for the circumstance of the moment.
Listening requires an active response, not a passive one. Effective listening doesn’t just happen; it takes thought—and thinking can be hard work. But there is no other way to become an effective listener. Think about the complexities of listening, and work to understand them.
2. Prepare to Listen. Preparation consists of three phases—long-term, mid-term, and short-term. We said earlier that becoming an effective listener is a lifetime endeavor; in other words, expanding your listening ability will be an ongoing task. But there are two things you can do to improve your listening skills for the long term: (a) practice listening to difficult material and (b) build your vocabulary.
Too many people simply do not challenge their listening ability. Since most of today’s radio and television programs do not require concentrated or careful listening, your listening skills do not improve through continued exposure to them. And you have to stretch if you want to grow. Force yourself to listen carefully to congressional debates, lectures, sermons, or other material that requires concentration.
Building your vocabulary will improve your conversational skills and your reading skills as well as your listening skills. And the more words you learn, the better listener you will become.
Mid-term preparation for listening requires that you do the necessary background study before the listening begins. Background papers, prebriefs, and an advance look at a hard copy (or an electronic display) of briefing slides or charts will assist you in being ready to listen.
Short-term preparation may be defined as an immediate readiness to listen. When the speaker’s mouth opens, you should open your ears. That is not the time to be hunting for a pen, reading a letter from home, or thinking about some unrelated subject. Good listeners—really good listeners—are in the “spring-loaded position to listen.” It is important to prepare to listen.
3. Adjust to the situation. No listening situation is exactly the same as another. The time, the speaker, the message—all change. But many other variables also affect listening, though less obviously so: physiological variables such as rest, hunger, comfort, endurance; psychological variables such as emotional stability, rapport with the speaker, knowledge of the subject; and physical factors such as size and color of the room. Obviously, some of these things will have a positive effect on your listening while others will have a negative effect.
A thick foreign accent, poor grammar, a room with poor acoustics, and the subject of the previous speaker—all may present special barriers to effective listening. However, being aware of the barriers and thinking about how to overcome them can help you improve the situation.
Good listeners are never trapped into thinking that any communication transaction or listening situation is exactly like any other. The Grecian philosopher Heraclitus said it well: “You can’t step into the same stream twice.” Things change. By thinking about the unique factors of the situation, you can do your most effective job as a listener. Adjust to the situation!
4. Focus on ideas or key points. At times, you may understand the process, you may have prepared well, and you may be able to adjust to the situation—yet you fail as a listener. This failure results because you didn’t listen to the right things. For example, you may remember a funny story the speaker told to make a point; but you missed the point.
Others boast, “I listen only for the facts.” By concentrating exclusively on individual supporting facts, they may actually miss the main ideas. Facts A, B, and C may be interesting in their own right, but the speaker’s reason for offering them is usually to develop a generalization from them. Generalizations, not facts, are usually most important.
In studies conducted some years ago at the University of New Mexico, I discovered that students who did best on all but rote memory examinations were those who listened for key points and ideas. Interestingly, those who attempted to memorize minute details did only slightly better on low-level rote memory exams than the individuals who focused on ideas—and they did much worse when long-term retention was the criterion. While there are some exceptions, as when listening for directions to someone’s house or memorizing a mathematical formula, it is usually best to focus on ideas or key points.
5. Capitalize on the speed differential. Thought can operate much faster than speech. An average person may speak two or three words a second—120 to 180 words a minute. In bursts of enthusiasm, we may even speak a little faster. Most public speakers speak somewhat slower, especially to large audiences. Yet most listeners can process up to 500 words per minute, depending on the nature and difficulty of the material.
I have a machine that compresses speech on tape, but without the distortions normally associated with fast forwarding a tape or simply playing a tape or record at a faster speed. Compression is accomplished through systematic removal of small segments—so small that distortion is not noticed by listeners. Experiments in which listening time is cut in half—an hour lecture is listened to in half the time—reveal little, if any, significant loss in listening and learning. Admittedly, listeners are ready for a break because there is no time for their minds to wander. Effective listening requires hard thinking, especially if the material is challenging.
The results of these experiments point to the possibility of capitalizing on the speed differential. Unfortunately, the differential between speed of thought and speed of speech promotes daydreaming or concentrating on something other than what is being said. This is not the case with good listeners, however; they use the time differential to good advantage. They summarize, anticipate, and formulate questions based on the speaker’s message. This type of time usage may explain why top listeners at the Air War College recently reported that they learned more from lectures than from any other method of instruction. They have learned to capitalize on the speed differential.
6. Organize material for learning. Obviously, speakers can enhance listening through careful organization and presentation of ideas. And if questions are appropriate, you can seek clarification of any points you fail to understand. Often, however, questioning is not permitted or, perhaps due to time constraints or the size of the audience, is inappropriate. What can you do?
Remembering that the speed differential exists, you can arrange the material in your mind or in your notes as it’s being presented. This will help you understand and remember it later. You can prepare yourself to retain the information to be presented by asking these questions: What point is the speaker trying to make? What main ideas should I remember? How does this information relate to what I already know?
Reorganizing the material you need to learn, and seeking relationships between the new material and what you already know, requires concentrated thinking. It is easier to simply “tune out.” There was a time in my early college years when I could not, “for the life of me,” see the relevance of some required classes to my course of study. A professor for whom I had great respect explained it to me this way: “John, someday you will come to understand that all information is part of a large mosaic or universe of knowledge. When that happens, you will value all learning. Always look for how the information relates to what you already know and what you need to know, and you will always find something.” You know what? He was right!

What You Feel about Listening

We began by discussing what you think about listening because effective listening requires rigorous cognitive processing, or thought. But possession of the sharpest mind will not make you a good listener if your feelings are wrong. In other words, what you feel about listening is important. Here are six suggestions for improving your “feel” for listening.
1. Want to listen. This suggestion is basic to all others, for it simply says that you must have an intent to listen. We can all recall having been forced to listen to a speech or a briefing that we didn’t really want to listen to. And listening under duress seldom results in understanding or enjoyment, although there are exceptions. Perhaps you have attended a meeting or a social event out of a sense of duty, yet found it to have been profitable. The reason? Probably, since you were there, you decided to make the best of the situation; that is, you made up your mind to listen.
Sometimes you don’t want to listen. At other times, your actions may indicate that you don’t want to listen when you really do. And at still other times, you may be unaware that you don’t want to listen. All three of these situations are affective or attitudinal; that is, they involve your feelings about listening.
Individuals often stop by my office and ask if they can talk for a few minutes. Perhaps they are seeking advice, telling about a project, or seeking clarification on a directive. Whatever the case, if I am not meeting with someone else or working against a deadline, I invite them in. But I must honestly admit that my mind sometimes wanders and I find myself looking at phone messages, fiddling with a paper clip, or looking at my guest with a blank stare. The visitor usually becomes uneasy, hurries the discussion, and offers to come back another time. I protest that I am really listening, but my actions betray me. It is difficult—indeed, nearly impossible—to really listen if you don’t have a mind to. You must want to listen.
2. Delay judgment. There are times when you must be a critical or judgmental listener. You must weigh the merits of what the speaker is saying. At times, you must make crucial decisions based on what you hear. There are also times when you must judge the speaker. Job interviews, campaign promises, speech contests—all are examples of where judgment of the speaker is important. The problem is, though, that you may be judgmental when you shouldn’t be. You may judge the speaker instead of the content, or you may form judgments before the speaker has finished.
A boy who was one month shy of being 16 decided to confess to his father that he had driven the family car on the previous night. His younger sister’s promised ride to gymnastics class hadn’t arrived, and it was the night of her final rehearsal before a performance. So he made the decision to take her even though he did not yet have a driver’s license. He was also quite sure that he hadn’t been seen and would never be found out. Still, his conscience was bothering him and his family had stressed honesty and openness. He decided to tell his father.
Upon hearing that the boy had taken the car, his father became furious. He scarcely heard the reason, and he failed to consider that the boy had taken it upon himself to confess. He told the boy that the act would delay his getting a driver’s license by two months.
Then the father rethought the situation and said, “Son, I acted hastily. My emotions got the best of me. You were wrong to drive the car because you broke the law. But, frankly, I am proud of you for three reasons: you got your sister to gymnastics rehearsal, you were honest about it, and you are my son.”
Supervisors often wonder why people in their organization won’t level with them. They need only to consider the messenger in ancient Rome who paid with his life for bringing bad news. An ancient Turkish proverb says, “messenger with bad news should keep one foot in the stirrup.” Delaying judgment and judging the content rather than the speaker will lead to better listening and more honest communication.
3. Admit your biases. Let’s face it: Everyone is human! We all have likes and dislikes; some things turn us on, others turn us off. These characteristics are natural and to be expected. The problem comes when we let our biases—our likes and dislikes—get in the way of understanding the speaker’s message.
For example, suppose you have had three bad experiences with people from Chicago and you learn that the speaker you have come to hear is from Chicago. You may have a tendency to immediately distrust him, or to discredit whatever he has to say. Only by admitting your prejudice against people from Chicago will you be able to think beyond your past experience and listen effectively to what this speaker has to say.
Before you reject the above example as irrelevant, consider a time in your past when you got sick after eating a certain food. You knew the sickness was caused by a virus and not the food, but it was quite a while before that food again tasted good to you. In a similar way, bias from past experience can influence what you hear and the meaning you derive from it. If you want to be an effective listener, you must know and admit your biases.
4. Don’t tune out “dry” subjects. Whenever you are tempted to “tune out” something because you think it will be boring or useless, remember that you cannot evaluate the importance of the message until you have heard it. By then, it is probably too late to ask the speaker to repeat everything that was said; the opportunity to listen effectively will have passed. As was stated earlier, you must intend to listen.
Here are several things you can do to stay focused, even if the subject seems dry.
a. Put yourself in the speaker’s place. Try to see the speaker’s point of view, and try to understand the speaker’s attitude toward the subject.
b. Review frequently what the speaker has said. Try to summarize the message as the speaker would summarize it.
c. Constantly ask yourself positive questions about what the speaker is saying: How can I use this information? How can I share this information with others? What else could be said about this subject?
d. Ask yourself, “What does the speaker know that I don’t?”
e. Find at least one major application or conclusion from every message you hear. In other words, ask “what’s in this message for me?” Then find the answer.
f. Listen as though you are going to be required to present the same message to a different audience later.
Effective listeners have discovered the value of listening to messages they might have initially considered to be “dry.” Sometimes the messages aren’t so dry after all. And even when they are, there still may be something of value in them.
5. Accept responsibility for understanding. Don’t assume this attitude: “Here I am! Teach me—if you can.” Such listeners believe knowledge can be poured into them as water is poured into a jug. And they believe the responsibility rests with the one doing the pouring; that is, they believe it is the speaker’s fault if effective listening does not occur.
Admittedly, the basic assumption in Speaking Effectively: A Guide for Air Force Speakers is that the speaker bears a large responsibility for how well the audience listens. And the speaker’s clear organization, engaging support materials, and appropriate delivery do in fact aid listening. But good listeners are good because they accept the responsibility for listening and understanding.
6. Encourage others to talk. This point applies to those situations in which you find yourself “one-on-one,” in a small group discussion, or any other setting that requires exchanges of vocal communication. But you can’t listen if no one is talking. The first two guidelines of this section (communicating that you want to listen and being willing to delay judgment) are sources of encouragement to speakers. The discussion below covers several other things you can do.
a. Stop talking. You can’t listen if you’re talking.
b. Give positive feedback. Look and act interested. Positive head nods, alertness, and smiles—all offer encouragement to the speaker.
c. Ask questions. Questions that show interest and attention encourage both speaker and listener. Show your interest.
d. Empathize with the speaker. Put yourself in the speaker’s place; this will help you understand the message.
e. Keep confidences. If the information is sensitive, don’t share it with others.
f. Share information. We tend to tell things to those who tell us things. So if you want the speaker to share information with you, share information with the speaker.

What You Do about Listening

What we think about listening and what we feel about listening are both fundamental to skillful listening. But the skills themselves are crucial. Skills form the psychomotor—the “doing”—element of listening. Here are six crucial skills.
1. Establish eye contact with the speaker. Studies show that listening has a positive relationship with eye contact. In other words, the better eye contact you have with the speaker, the better you will listen. And while eye contact is especially important in relationship listening, it is also important for the other kinds of listening: informative, appreciative, critical, discriminative.
There are several things you can do to establish positive eye contact with the speaker:
a. In one-on-one or small group settings, sit or stand where you can look directly at the person doing the speaking.
b. In large groups, sit to the front and center of the audience. You can more easily establish eye contact with the speaker from this vantage point.
c. Don’t get so involved in taking notes that you fail to look often at the speaker. The speaker’s gestures, movements, and facial expression are often an important part of the message.
d. Resist the temptation to let something about the room, or objects within and around the room, distract you. Focus on the speaker and the message.
e. Don’t look at others who enter or leave while the speaker is speaking. This practice not only interrupts your train of thought—it adds to the distraction of the speaker.
f. Speakers sometimes exhibit a visual aid too soon, or neglect to remove it when they have finished using it. Focus on the visual aid only when it is an asset to the point being discussed.
A final point deserves discussion: Never sleep when someone is talking to you! This point may seem self-evident. But let’s face it—in the “busyness” of our lives, we tend to become passive whenever we listen. Passivity promotes reduced attention, which in turn allows drowsiness to occur. In most cases, it is better to stand up, or even to leave the room, rather than fall asleep.
2. Take notes effectively. Some people recommend that you not take notes so you can focus your attention wholly on what the speaker is saying. This practice works well for listeners who are blessed with a great memory; most of us aren’t. Taking notes will not only help you remember, it will help you organize what the speaker is saying. And it may even aid your understanding and retention—after all, effective note taking will require you to think.
There are many different ways to take notes; for example, linear outlining, mindmapping, and key word methodology. Ask different people what method they use, then find what works best for you. Whatever method you select or devise, several things are worth considering.
a. Don’t attempt to write everything down. As mentioned earlier, effective listeners focus on the key ideas or main points.
b. Write clearly enough that you can understand your writing later. If not, make certain that you allow time to decipher your notes before they grow “cold.” It’s disheartening to review your notes two weeks later only to find that they make no sense.
c. Don’t rely on listening later to a tape of the speech. Think! Will you have the time? Looking at your notes for five minutes is generally sufficient, and is much more time-efficient than listening to the entire speech again.
d. Circle or highlight the most important points.
3. Be a physically involved listener. Just what does this statement mean? As you have already seen, listening requires more than just hearing. You have also seen that making eye contact and taking notes will help to keep you from becoming passive. But there is more: Active listening takes energy and involvement.
Here are some physical behaviors that will ensure your involvement and help your listening.
a. Use good posture. Sit up straight, yet comfortably. Good posture aids breathing and alertness. It also communicates positive interest to the speaker.
b. Follow the speaker. If the speaker moves, turn your head or rotate in your chair to maintain eye contact and attention. This movement also aids in keeping you alert.
c. Don’t be a deadpan. Facial expressions, head nods, and tilts of the head show your involvement and provide positive feedback to the speaker.
d. Use your hands not only to take notes, but to show approval by applause when appropriate.
e. Participate when audience involvement is encouraged. Ask questions. Respond when a show of hands is called for. Be an active listener.
f. Smile.
4. Avoid negative mannerisms. Everyone has mannerisms. Watch anyone for a period of time and you will be convinced of this fact. If your mannerisms do not cause a negative reaction, don’t worry about them. If a mannerism is positive or encouraging and brings a positive response, make a mental note to do it more often. Unfortunately, some mannerisms are negative or distracting. These should be avoided.
Here are some examples of listener mannerisms that either hinder listening or have a negative impact—on the speaker or on other listeners. Avoid these mannerisms.
a. Fidgeting, tapping a pencil, or playing with a rubber band or some other object. The effect on you may be neutral, but such things distract other listeners and are an annoyance to the speaker.
b. Continually looking at the clock or your watch.
c. Reading a paper, balancing a checkbook, rearranging items in your wallet, or engaging in other behavior which takes focus away from the speaker.
d. Displays of arrogance, superiority, or lack of interest in the speaker and message.
In short, any mannerism or behavior that detracts from the speaker or the message should be avoided. Such things hinder the speaker, divert the attention of other listeners, and prevent you from being the best listener you can be.
5. Exercise your listening muscles. Actually, there are no muscles technically involved with listening—but this thought reminds us that listening takes practice. Just as an athlete must work out regularly and a musician must practice daily, so you must work consistently to be an effective listener.
But consistent practice in itself is not enough. The difficulty of the message is also important. Exposure to challenging material and difficult listening situations will stretch your ability and build your listening muscles. For example, suppose you knew that you would be required to carry a 50-pound weight one hundred yards in less than a minute. You wouldn’t practice by carrying a 30-pound weight. You would practice by carrying at least a 50-pound weight, and you probably would condition yourself to carry it more than 100 yards in less than a minute. With this kind of practice, you would be more than equal to the task. And so it is with listening: Practice to at least the level you will be required to perform—perhaps a bit above.
Finally, “s-t-r-e-t-c-h” your vocabulary. We’ve said this before, but nothing will pay greater listening dividends. Learn the meanings of new words and acronyms. Listen to and read material that contains challenging words. Keep a dictionary nearby. Look up new words as you read them, or jot them down as you listen so you can look up the meanings later.
6. Follow the Golden Rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The central focus of all effective communication is “other directedness.” There are exceptions to most other listening rules. For example, there are times when a listener shouldn’t prepare; preparation may prevent openness to new ideas. There are times when the objective is not to focus on key points, but to listen for subordinate ideas or supporting material. There are times when we should not delay judgment—we must act! But while these and other rules have exceptions, not so for the Golden Rule. The effective listener is always other directed, focused on the other person.
Be the kind of listener you want others to be when you are talking. Ask “How would I want others to listen to me?” That’s how to be an effective listener.
Adapted from AWC Air University

Friday, 23 September 2011

Effective Study Skills


“In the end we retain from our studies only that which we practically
apply.”                                                                                                                              
        −Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 

Everyone is different: for some students it is natural to be inspired to learn,
while for others it is not. Your success at the IBA is dependent on your
ability to study effectively and efficiently. The results of poor study skills
are wasted time, frustration, and low or failing grades, which in turn will
affect your life, your time, and your future. All that can be said, upon
reflection, is that time is precious and not to be wasted. 

The following tips will help you to study more effectively and hopefully
with better results. Remember, though, that the results largely depend on
your motivation to study and how much you want to succeed. 

Read Read actively. Read to answer questions you have asked yourself, or
questions the instructor or author has asked. Always be alert to bold or
italicized print. Also, when you read, be sure to read tables, graphs and
illustrations, as they can convey an idea more powerfully than written text.


Question yourself Ask yourself questions as you read or study. As you
answer them, you will help to make sense of the material and remember it
more easily because the process will make an impression on you. Write
your questions in the margins of textbooks, on lecture notes, or wherever it
makes sense and can be easily referred to. 

Recall Try to recall main headings, important ideas of concepts presented
in bold or italicized type and what graphs charts or illustrations indicate.
Try to develop an overall concept of what you have read in your own
words and thoughts. Make an attempt to connect things you have just read
to things you already know.

Review  A review is a survey of what you have covered. While reviewing,
it’s a good time to go over notes you have taken to help clarify points you
may have missed or don't understand. It is best to review once you have
finished studying something. Don’t wait till the exams to begin the review
process.

Identifying important details Extracting important details mean that you
locate in your reading the basis for main ideas. The more links you can
make between details and ideas, as well as ideas themselves, the more
powerful will be the efforts of your study.

Taking notes Note-taking is a skill which must be learned and refined.
Taking notes helps to reinforce what you have read and learned and is an
essential factor for becoming a successful student. Learn to keep notes
logically and legibly. Make it a habit of using your notebook to record all
your notes, and use dividers for the different classes you take. When taking
notes during lectures, try to paraphrase what the teacher says and then
write it down. Identify important points and highlight them. Organize your
notes for easier and faster reference when you study.

Make a schedule You must develop a study schedule if you want to be
organized and not waste valuable time, especially before the exams.
Prioritize the subjects and topics you need to cover and follow your
schedule consistently. There is no point in making a schedule if you do not
adhere to it.
Taken from IBA Student Handbook

The Critical Difference - Time Management

Following is an excerpt from Dr. Richard Light's book, Making the Most of College (Harvard University Press, 2002)

"Things that worked for me in high school, I discovered, don't work for me in college. I really was unprepared for the amount of material that is presented here and the speed at which it is presented. I: was a bit of a shock. Things I picked up quickly in high school I couldn't pick up so easily any more.

Here at college I wasn't being checked every day. I did not get off to a great start because I had never really learned to study this enormous amount of material in a systematic way. I tended to do one subject for a big span of time and then neglect it for a week. Then I moved on to another subject, ad forgot about that for a week. So there was no continuity within each course. That had a lot to do with it. Finally I figured it out. This year, I'm pushing myself to spend a little bit of time every day on each subject.


Why is it that some undergraduates make the transition from high school to college smoothly, while others have much more trouble? Do certain behavior patterns tend to differentiate students who quickly, making superb academic and personal adjustments to college, from seemingly similar student who do not adjust as well?

To pursue this idea, Constance Buchanan and a group of colleagues from four universities devise detailed protocol to interview two groups of sophomores in depth. (The quotation that opens this section is from one of their interviews.) One group had had an outstanding first year in all ways, both academic and social, while the other group struggled. The interviewers' goal was to explore how each of students, as a newly arrived freshman, had thought about making the transition from high school to college. They hoped to find, a few important differences between the two groups of sophomores. They quickly discovered that one difference, indeed a single word, was a key factor. Sophomores who I made the most successful transitions repeatedly brought up this word on their own. Sophomores who had experienced difficulty hardly ever mentioned the word, even when prompted.

The critical word is time. Sophomores who had a great first year typically talked about realizing, When they got to college, that they had to think about how to spend their time. They mentioned time management, and time allocation, and time as a scarce resource. In contrast, sophomores who struggle during their first year rarely referred to time in any way.

Several advisors have told me that some first-year students find it a real challenge to allocate their time so they are both happy personally and effective in their academic work. Students who learn to manage, their time well are often those who work hard on this topic when they first arrive. It isn't easy for every student. It requires systematic effort. But the heavy demands of most college course, compared wit what students faced in high school, reinforce the value of making such an effort. It certainly beats the alternative of feeling overwhelmed when suddenly facing the amount of reading assigned in college courses. When seniors are asked what advice they would offer new arrivals, this idea of learning to manage time is a common response. I think it is a wise one. The distinction in attitudes towards managing time translates into distinction between new students who prosper and those who struggle.

Time Management Tips


All college students suffer distractions, whether from extra curricular activities, surfing the Internet, meeting new people or a job. Schools are aware of these factors that can interfere with students' lives and often provide resource that help students to fight time wasting.

Many schools' time management techniques have similar goals. They include the elimination of cramming for tests, reduction of anxiety pertaining to schoolwork and other responsibilities, the gaining of time for other activities and motivation. 

When developing time management techniques in college, it's important that students understand their goals as they pertain to time and have the ability to develop and follow a schedule. Without these factors, it's hard for students to understand the motivation behind their time management. 


Often, on time management sites provided by schools, students may download a scheduler, a weekly, monthly and yearly planner and worksheets pertaining to the distribution of one's tasks. 

The University of Dartmouth (www.dartmouth.edu) includes a downloadable tip sheet which include time management skills. Some pertain to the following: 
- Find ways to build on your success 
- Keep long term goals in mind 
- Plan each day 
- Notice when you're being unproductive 
- Break old and negative habits 
- Concentrate effort on tasks that provide long term benefit 
- Ask for advice 

Penn State University offers a time management page that helps students better understand their time management goals. Tips according to Penn State University include the following: 
- Be specific when setting goals 
- Review lecture notes everyday 
- Schedule fixed blocks of time first 
- Make use of time before and after class 
- Schedule breaks 
- Set clear start and stop times 
Other time management tips include the following: 
- Learn material the first time around 
- Have confidence 
- Learn what works for you 
- Study difficult subjects first 
- Work with classmates

Quotes on Character Education

Warren Buffett, America's most successful investor, on the primacy of character in choosing a business partner: ''I think you'll probably start looking for the person that you can always depend on; the person whose ego does not get in his way; the person who's perfectly willing to let someone else take the credit for an idea as long as it worked; the person who essentially won't let you down, who thought straight as opposed to brilliantly.'' (Quoted by Andrew Kilpatrick in ''Of Permanent Value'')

"Try not to be a person of success, but rather a person of virtue." — Albert Einstein

On the football program at the University of Georgia, which has a full-time assistant coach for character and leadership. ''In 10 years from now, if all these men are better men because they went to Georgia, I'm more interested in that than national championships and public opinion. If a guy comes back and says he is a better man or better husband or father, or better person because of going through our program, that would be more gratifying to me.'' University of Georgia coach Mark Richt: ''Bulldog Course Teaches Team Class,'' by Michelle Hiskey, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Dec. 5, 2002, pp. A1 & A20)

''After over thirty years on Wall Street, I have seen many firms who thirty or even twenty years ago occupied the front rank, recede into positions of comparative unimportance, and I have seen other firms, who two or three decades ago were quite unimportant, come to the front and become leaders in domestic and international finance. The reason is they had been more honest than those who were the leaders at one time.'' (Jacob Schiff, who led the investment firm Kuhn, Loeb & Company to an industry leader.)

''Somebody once said that in looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if they don't have the first, the other two will kill you.'' (Warren Buffett, who became the 2nd wealthiest man in the USA by understanding and in investing in great companies. From Omaha World Herald, February 1, 1994)

"The best index to a person's character is how he treats people who can't do him any good, and how he treats people who can't fight back." — Abigail Van Buren

"I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death." — Thomas Paine (1737-1809)

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." — Martin Luther King, Jr.

"The measure of a man's character is what he would do if he would never be found out.'' — Lord Macaulay

''When men speak evil of you, live so nobody will believe them.'' — Plato

''To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.'' — Former President Theodore Roosevelt

"To put the world right in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must first cultivate our personal life; we must first set our hearts right. — Confucius

''Universities are turning out highly skilled barbarians because we don't provide a framework of values to young people who more and more are searching for it.'' — Steven Mueller, president of Johns Hopkins University

'My whole philosophy is that we build men. Incidentally, we move freight.'' — Arthur Imperatore, president of A-P-A Transport, a company that rose to the top of its industry
"
To educate a person in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society." — Theodore Roosevelt

"I believe that the highest priority for business today is an ethical, responsible workforce." — Jack Smith, Chairman, General Motors Corporation

"The good-to-great companies placed greater weight on character attributes than on specific educational background, practical skills, specialized knowledge, or work experience." — Jim Collins, Good to Great