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Unformatted text preview: LECTURE SERIES: CCS 001 – COMMUNICATION SKILLS UNIVERSITY OF NAIROBI COLLEGE OF HUMANITIES AND SOCIAL SCIENCES SCHOOL OF BUSINESS In Collaboration With CENTRE FOR OPEN AND DISTANCE LEARNING CCS 001 COMMUNICATION SKILLS COURSE WRITERS: Dr. Mary Okebe Hellen Omangi Dorothy A. Amolo Lynn Ochieno LECTURE ONE STUDY TECHNIQUES Lecture Outline 1.1. Introduction 1.2. Objectives 1.3. Characteristics of Students 1.4. Objectives of Studying Techniques 1.5. Studying Techniques 1.5.1. General Studying Techniques 1.5.2. Systematic Studying 1.5.3. Special Requirements of Study Reading 1.6. Summary 1.1. Introduction In this lecture, I want to introduce you to study techniques as a student. Some people are ‘Natural’ students i.e. they always do the right thing at the right time as if by instinct. For example, they are never late with their work, they never miss classes and are always well- prepared for any test or assignment that they have to undergo. Unfortunately, this kind of student is very rare. 1.2. Objectives By the end of this Lecture you should be able to: 1. Identify objectives of Study Techniques 2. Apply general study techniques 3. Do a systematic study 1.3. Characteristics of Students Most students find themselves in a state of panic and unprepared ness at some time or other. Some even despair deeply of ever being successful in their studies. They always end up saying, ‘If only, I had…’ but usually it is too late! 1 This is natural, even normal and most cases it is avoidable. But ask your self how? Right at the beginning of your studies look at your life-style as a student and ask if it is helping you to succeed. To help you in this, you will find self- assessment questionnaires below: Activity 1.1 Look at the questions and then put a tick in the ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ column, as appropriate. Leave the ‘For attention’ column blank for the time being. Question 1. Have you got a clear idea in your own mind of the ways in which the course that you are doing will benefit you? 2. In general, do you find the subjects that you are doing interesting and stimulating? 3. If you had problems with a certain subject, would you discuss them with your tutor? 4. Do you miss classes from time to time? 5. Are you often late for classes? 6. Do you feel that the amount of work you have to do is too much for you? 7. Do you hand in work on time? 8. Do you have a system for doing the work that you are given? 9. Do you have a system for keeping notes, handouts etc on the same subject together? 10. Do you take outline notes of lectures, discussions, important texts etc? 11. Do you contribute to tutorial discussions? 12. Do you have any kind of cataloguing system for keeping track of the books you read? 2 Yes No For Attention Intext Question Private Study 1. Do you have a room where you can study privately? 2. Is your private place of study a) properly heated? b) properly lit? (If you have answered ‘No’ to question I, leave these blanks). 3. Do you have access to a library or reading room where you can work during your free time? 4. Do you know the opening and closing times of your college/university library? 5. Do you know how the library is organized? 6. Do you know how many hours a week you spend a) in classes? b) on private study? c) on recreation? 7. Have you made a plan of the number of hours per week you will have to spend on a) writing essays b) revision? c) other kinds of private study (e.g. reading)? General way of life 1. Do you have a hobby or recreation which takes your mind off your studies for a while? 2. Do you take part in sport or take other regular exercise? 3. Do you belong to any college/university clubs or societies? 4. Do you get enough sleep (i.e. 7-8 hours per night)? 5. Do you eat a proper balanced diet (especially important if you are looking after yourself)? 6. Do you make lists of things that you have to do, and cross them off each day? 7. Have you got a small notebook in which you can note down ideas, book references and so on? Please note that these problems apply to all students. Mark X where appropriate, to show areas of weakness. Some weaknesses will be less important that others e.g. private place of study and lack of interest in a subjects is very serious. Activity 1.2 Discuss your weaknesses with your classmates or your tutor and see the way forward. 3 Take Note Most activities can be carried out more successfully if they are approached purposefully and systematically. This principle underlies most of the training in this book. But it is particularly true for the act of studying. It does not matter whether you are studying to pass an examination or studying documents in order to play an effective part in a discussion or meeting. Success is more likely when you know your precise objectives and follow a plan in order to reach them. It will be clear from this course, that it is not only the student who studies. Study is not confined to schools and colleges. It recurs frequently in the course of most people’s working lives. In view of this, it is surprising that training in study methods does not form an accepted part of every school and college curriculum. It is partly in an attempt to remedy this situation that this chapter appears here. Also, since the effective studying of written materials is necessary for participation in many kinds of interactive situations this skill is a basic communication skill. 1.4. Objectives in Studying The objectives to be achieved through study will vary with each type of study situation but, broadly speaking, they will be of two kinds: (a) mastery of a topic or subject; (b) performing successfully in an examination or assessment situation. For example, if you have to make a personal decision on an issue such as whether strikes should be made illegal, you need to acquaint yourself with the principle facts and arguments available before making your decision. In other words, you must master your subject, or at least be one that you can defend in discussion with others. If you have to operate successfully in the situation of a job interview, you must have studied the job requirements carefully and must be able to show the interviewer how you can meet them. 4 Differences between successful and unsuccessful students The most important of these are as follows Unsuccessful student a) Lacks a sense of purpose. Successful student Has clearly defined his objectives. b) Does not use available time efficiently. Plans his use of time carefully. d) Has no method for studying. Follows a systematic study method. c) Does not plan the work he is supposed do. Prepares a study plan and keeps to it as far as possible. e) Is a slow reader. Is a flexible reader, capable of good performance at both low and high speeds. f) Lacks skill in note making. g) Leaves examination preparation to the last minute. Is able to make accurate, brief notes on materials heard, seen and read. Prepares for examination situations in good time. h) Leaves revision until the last Revises material studied continuously minute or fails to revise altogether progressively to ensure mastery of their content. i) Plays little part in discussions of study materials. j) Ignores the effects of physical mental health on the mental ability to promote study effectively. k) Ignores environmental factors. l) Has poor concentration. m) Lacks motivation Is active in discussions with other Students on materials studied whenever opportunities present themselves. Realizes the importance of physical and health to study effectively. Takes action to both. Chooses appropriate environments for studying. Concentrates easily and well. Is highly motivated and actively seeks success in studying. n) Has poor examination technique Has good examination technique and a planned approach to examination situations. o) Has poor handwriting. p) Is discouraged by failure. Has clear, legible handwriting. Uses failure for purposes of re- assessment to find approaches which will be more likely to bring success. The first of these differences has already been discussed and the others will be discussed later in this and subsequent sections. 5 1.5. Studying Techniques Here are some of these ‘common-sense’ studying strategies that students rarely put into practice. Later in this section, similarly strategies are suggested for taking notes and revising. What is important here as a student is to observe the following studying techniques: 1.5.1. General Studying Strategies Reconnoiter is the first key word. Any good general studying strategy will, before advancing into a new zone, find out as much about it as possible. By any available means he will gather and analyze all possible information the terrain, the weather outlook, enemy positions, and so on. As a student embarking on a course of study, you should make similar researches beforehand: Speak to other students who have already taken the course, and find out from them the material it covers, the quality of the teachers, the problem areas, and the most useful textbooks. Shop around if your college or place of learning offers an array of courses. Attend the first class or lecture of several-more than you actually plan to register for - and then make your selection. A good teacher may encourage you to sign up for what seemed at first sight as unpromising course and a poor teacher may put you off a course that otherwise looks tempting. Try to get an official copy of the full syllabus for each course beforehand. It will guide you and help to pace you through the course. If you cannot get it physically from your lecturer because of the distance try and get it online or through the E- mail. Find out about marking systems as well: does class – participation count towards your final results? What proportion the assignments, continuous assessment tests and even the research projects and so on contribute towards the grading.. 6 Read before the course starts, some broad introduction to the subject, such as general textbook or even the references if you already have them. This will give you an overview of the subject, enabling you to appreciate faster and better the details of the subject as you acquire them in lectures and in subsequent reading. Cultivate the right attitude. The objective of study is (or should be) knowledge, not just qualifications. Approach your course with the intention of learning the subject and improving you mind, rather than merely of passing the exam at the end of it. You will not only derive greater enjoyment and benefit from the course, but will almost certainly score better results as well. Those who undertake a course of study purely in the spirit of passing the exam at the end are those in danger of failing. Even if the course is a compulsory one, and not to your liking, you will get a great deal more out of it by engaging it aggressively than by simply enduring it. Take up the challenge; be affirmative. In other words, take your studies seriously. Your student years are not just a period of preparation for the ‘real business of life’ – work and adulthood. They are valuable in themselves. Don’t treat them as a time of quarantine. Keep a balance. The opposite danger is that of taking your studies too seriously. Remember the ‘law of Diminishing returns’ – after a certain point, you actually produce or absorb less if you put in more work. The student, like the doctor or the dockworker, can actually get more work done in an eight – hour day than in a twelve-hour day. An overlong working day produces greater boredom, fatigue, and resentment, and reduces the level of concentration and commitment. Of course, the threshold varies from person to person, and you will have to discover for yourself what your own optimum is. You should in due course settle down into a relaxed and highly efficient rhythm, combing sessions of intense study with sessions of extracurricular activity: going to the theatre, socializing in the pub, helping with charity work, doing the laundry, playing tennis, sightseeing, debating… all the cultural pleasures that enrich your 7 education together with the routine chores of daily life, should fit comfortably into your weekly timetable without seriously reducing the overall quality of your studies. Take a businesslike approach. To live your student life to the full this way, you will have to live it efficiently e.g. Try to develop routine. If your mind is sharpest in the morning, for instance, try to organize your day so as to do an hour’s reading, writing or ordering of your notes before breakfast. As with time, so with place: find out which working environment suits you best, and try to maintain it. The library, or your own room? (Not the canteen or the park). In solitude, or with a study partner? Background music? (it can be distractive, but it can equally help to block out distractions.) A welllighted room, or just a pool of lamplight at your desk? And so on. Whatever you decide in such matters, make sure you stick to it: the mind will come to associate certain regular places and patterns with intense study, and you will find yourself concentrating better when sticking to these. Keep ahead of the game. Don’t let big backlogs build up-whatever or essay assignments or unpaid bills, background reading or unanswered letters. You will need to keep a tidy desk – literally and metaphorically. If you feel oppressed by that huge pile of clothes that needs ironing, or by those reams of notes that need filing, these worries will only serve to distract you during lectures or to reduce your concentration in the library or laboratory. Remember, if you fall behind in your work, you are at a great disadvantage. Each succeeding lecture or assignment will be that much more difficult, since it assumes some prior knowledge. Keeping ahead of the lecturer or demonstrator, by contrast, will provide for richer lecture notes, and will enable you to memories the subject matter more easily. Always try to do some preparatory work before teaching sessions. Set aside, for example. Friday evening or Sunday afternoon to read ahead in the textbook or to try some advanced theorems for the next week’s classes. 8 Get your fellow-students involved in advance study. If, for example, your lecturer runs a seminar that meets once a week, why not organize a parallel seminar the night before with some classmates to go over the next days material? You will get much more out of the ‘official’ seminar if you do, and will feel more confident when taking part in it. 1.5.2. Systematic Study Defining objectives and preparing study plans lays the basis for a systematic approach to study. When it comes to the next step actually carrying out the studying method is even more important in recent years. Increasing attention has been given to devising effective study methods and one of the ones devised has the mnemonic title PINCER. In brief, the stages of the method are as follows: (a) Prepare. Survey the available information and material generally to decide the amount of study time and effort required. Assess the purposes of your studying and define what you hope to achieve by it. Assess your prior knowledge and experience that will be relevant. Identify any gaps, either in your prior knowledge or in the material at hand, which must be filled before you can (b) proceed Inspect. Preview the facts and the material in detail. Establish the pattern of organization of the information, the general outline of the points to be covered and identify those parts which you anticipate will give greatest difficulty in (c) (d) understanding. Note. Make your own summaries of the main points, omitting points of secondary or minor importance. Number the points and underline really important information. Consider and evaluate. Immediately after completing each study session (or as soon afterwards as possible) assess the value and over-all significance of what you have learned. Make sure you understand thoroughly at each stage and study again or seek advice if you do not. 9 (e) Revise continuously and progressively until you have thoroughly mastered the information or are at least as sufficiently familiar with it as your purposes in studying require you to be. There is no reason, of course, why you should not devise your own system of steps to be followed that meets your requirements more closely than the above method may. There is no single method that is superior to all others. The test lies in the actual usage of a method and you should not slavishly follow PINCER. Modification or a completely different approach will suit you better. The point to be remembered is that almost any study method will produce better results than no method at all. 1.5.3. Special Requirements of Study Reading Study reading takes time. There are no short cuts and no easy ways if the material is to be effectively mastered. This is not to say that faster reading and skimming techniques cannot be used at certain stages of the study process. But if material is difficult to understand and if it has to be comprehended in detail and in depth, time can only be saved through the use of the kind of systematic approaches outlined above. Speed is increased by avoiding reading things that are not essential. Study reading is generally slow, methodological requires a high level of concentration. Avoid reading materials where distractions are likely i.e. the environment should allow for complete concentration. Although some people read best when there is music in the background, study reading actually requires time for consideration, time for you to reflect on what you have read and where possible, to discuss your reading with others who are engaged in the same task Sharing ideas with others in a discussion is usually the best if it is possible. To be an effective student, you must be a flexible reader. Avoid reading irrelevant material, skim through materials quickly when selecting those you will study. Read through a smaller proportion of your materials relatively slowly if it is new material or because it is more difficult for some other reason. Those materials that you find essential read and re- read and make notes upon them. Always remember to do your reading with a pen and a note book even when you are 10 skimming or reading rapidly so that you note down what you think you need to remember. In our next lecture we will look at this skill of Note-making and Note- taking so that you can make useful notes for your study. 1.6. Summary (a) Importance of a system (i) Method is important for all kinds of study situations. (ii) Training is important in developing systematic approaches (b) Objectives These must be defined in advance and will usually involve: (i) (c) Achieving mastery of a topic or subject; (ii) Performing successfully in an examination situation. Attributes of the good student The good student: (i) (ii) (iii) (iv) (v) (vi) (vii) (viii) (ix) (x) (xi) (xii) (xiii) (xiv) (xv) (xvi) is purposeful; uses time efficiently plans his work; is methodical when working; is an efficient reader; is a good note maker; prepares for exams in good time; revises continuously and progressively; is active in discussions; safeguards physical and mental health; chooses best environment for studying; has good concentration; is highly motivated; has developed exam techniques; has legible handwriting; learns from failures. (d) Time (e) A timetable should be prepared and kept to as far as possible. Study plans (i) (ii) (iii) Study plans should be prepared for each syllabus item. Whole parts of the task should be completed at each study session, where the task cannot be finished in one session. You should always be prepared for plans not to work and should be ready to take alternative action. 11 The next step involves referring back more closely to the original to compare your notes with it and to change and add to the latter where necessary. Sixthly, and finally, the whole process should be reviewed briefly checking ...
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