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Chapter 1 Introduction to Writing 1.1 Reading and Writing in College L E A R N I N G O B JE C T I V E S 1. Understand the expectations for reading and writing assignments in college courses. 2. Understand and apply general strategies to complete college-level reading assignments efficiently and effectively. 3. Recognize specific types of writing assignments frequently included in college courses. 4. Understand and apply general strategies for managing college-level writing assignments. 5. Determine specific reading and writing strategies that work best for you individually. As you begin this chapter, you may be wondering why you need an introduction. After all, you have been writing and reading since elementary school. You completed numerous assessments of your reading and writing skills in high school and as part of your application process for college. You may write on the job, too. Why is a college writing course even necessary? When you are eager to get started on the coursework in your major that will prepare you for your career, getting excited about an introductory college writing course can be difficult. However, regardless of your field of study, honing your writing skills—and your reading and critical-thinking skills—gives you a more solid academic foundation. In college, academic expectations change from what you may have experienced in high school. The quantity of work you are expected to do is increased. When instructors expect you to read pages upon pages or study hours and hours for one particular course, managing your work load can be challenging. This chapter includes strategies for studying efficiently and managing your time. The quality of the work you do also changes. It is not enough to understand course material and summarize it on an exam. You will also be expected to seriously engage with new ideas by reflecting on them, analyzing them, critiquing them, making connections, drawing conclusions, or finding new ways of thinking about a given subject. Educationally, you are moving into deeper waters. A good introductory writing course will help you swim. Table 1.1 "High School versus College Assignments" summarizes some of the other major differences between high school and college assignments. Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 4 Table 1.1 High School versus College Assignments High School College Reading assignments are moderately long. Teachers Some reading assignments may be very long. You may set aside some class time for reading and will be expected to come to class with a basic reviewing the material in depth. understanding of the material. Teachers often provide study guides and other aids to Reviewing for exams is primarily your help you prepare for exams. responsibility. Your grade is determined by your performance on a Your grade may depend on just a few major wide variety of assessments, including minor and major assessments. Most assessments are writing based. assignments. Not all assessments are writing based. Writing assignments include personal writing and Outside of creative writing courses, most writing creative writing in addition to expository writing. assignments are expository. The structure and format of writing assignments is Depending on the course, you may be asked to generally stable over a four-year period. master new forms of writing and follow standards within a particular professional field. Teachers often go out of their way to identify and try to Although teachers want their students to succeed, help students who are performing poorly on exams, they may not always realize when students are missing classes, not turning in assignments, or just struggling. They also expect you to be proactive struggling with the course. Often teachers will give and take steps to help yourself. “Second chances” students many “second chances.” are less common. This chapter covers the types of reading and writing assignments you will encounter as a college student. You will also learn a variety of strategies for mastering these new challenges—and becoming a more confident student and writer. Throughout this chapter, you will follow a first-year student named Crystal. After several years of working as a saleswoman in a department store, Crystal has decided to pursue a degree in elementary education and become a teacher. She is continuing to work part-time, and occasionally she finds it challenging to balance the demands of work, school, and caring for her four-year-old son. As you read about Crystal, think about how you can use her experience to get the most out of your own college experience. E X E R C I S E 1 Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 5 Review Table 1.1 "High School versus College Assignments" and think about how you have found your college experience to be different from high school so far. Respond to the following questions: 1. In what ways do you think college will be more rewarding for you as a learner? 2. What aspects of college do you expect to find most challenging? 3. What changes do you think you might have to make in your life to ensure your success in college? Reading Strategies Your college courses will sharpen both your reading and your writing skills. Most of your writing assignments—from brief response papers to in-depth research projects—will depend on your understanding of course reading assignments or related readings you do on your own. And it is difficult, if not impossible, to write effectively about a text that you have not understood. Even when you do understand the reading, it can be hard to write about it if you do not feel personally engaged with the ideas discussed. This section discusses strategies you can use to get the most out of your college reading assignments. These strategies fall into three broad categories: 1. Planning strategies. To help you manage your reading assignments. 2. Comprehension strategies. To help you understand the material. 3. Active reading strategies. To take your understanding to a higher and deeper level. Planning Your Reading Have you ever stayed up all night cramming just before an exam? Or found yourself skimming a detailed memo from your boss five minutes before a crucial meeting? The first step in handling college reading successfully is planning. This involves both managing your time and setting a clear purpose for your reading. Managing Your Reading Time You will learn more detailed strategies for time management in Section 1.2 "Developing Study Skills", but for now, focus on setting aside enough time for reading and breaking your assignments into manageable chunks. If you are assigned a seventy-page chapter to read for next week’s class, try not to wait until the night before to get started. Give yourself at least a few days and tackle one section at a time. Your method for breaking up the assignment will depend on the type of reading. If the text is very dense and packed with unfamiliar terms and concepts, you may need to read no more than five or ten pages in Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 6 one sitting so that you can truly understand and process the information. With more user-friendly texts, you will be able to handle longer sections—twenty to forty pages, for instance. And if you have a highly engaging reading assignment, such as a novel you cannot put down, you may be able to read lengthy passages in one sitting. As the semester progresses, you will develop a better sense of how much time you need to allow for the reading assignments in different subjects. It also makes sense to preview each assignment well in advance to assess its difficulty level and to determine how much reading time to set aside. Tip College instructors often set aside reserve readings for a particular course. These consist of articles, book chapters, or other texts that are not part of the primary course textbook. Copies of reserve readings are available through the university library; in print; or, more often, online. When you are assigned a reserve reading, download it ahead of time (and let your instructor know if you have trouble accessing it). Skim through it to get a rough idea of how much time you will need to read the assignment in full. Setting a Purpose The other key component of planning is setting a purpose. Knowing what you want to get out of a reading assignment helps you determine how to approach it and how much time to spend on it. It also helps you stay focused during those occasional moments when it is late, you are tired, and relaxing in front of the television sounds far more appealing than curling up with a stack of journal articles. Sometimes your purpose is simple. You might just need to understand the reading material well enough to discuss it intelligently in class the next day. However, your purpose will often go beyond that. For instance, you might also read to compare two texts, to formulate a personal response to a text, or to gather ideas for future research. Here are some questions to ask to help determine your purpose:  How did my instructor frame the assignment? Often your instructors will tell you what they expect you to get out of the reading: o Read Chapter 2 and come to class prepared to discuss current teaching practices in elementary math. o Read these two articles and compare Smith’s and Jones’s perspectives on the 2010 health care reform bill. Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 7 o Read Chapter 5 and think about how you could apply these guidelines to running your own business.  How deeply do I need to understand the reading? If you are majoring in computer science and you are assigned to read Chapter 1, “Introduction to Computer Science,” it is safe to assume the chapter presents fundamental concepts that you will be expected to master. However, for some reading assignments, you may be expected to form a general understanding but not necessarily master the content. Again, pay attention to how your instructor presents the assignment.  How does this assignment relate to other course readings or to concepts discussed in class? Your instructor may make some of these connections explicitly, but if not, try to draw connections on your own. (Needless to say, it helps to take detailed notes both when in class and when you read.)  How might I use this text again in the future? If you are assigned to read about a topic that has always interested you, your reading assignment might help you develop ideas for a future research paper. Some reading assignments provide valuable tips or summaries worth bookmarking for future reference. Think about what you can take from the reading that will stay with you. Improving Your Comprehension You have blocked out time for your reading assignments and set a purpose for reading. Now comes the challenge: making sure you actually understand all the information you are expected to process. Some of your reading assignments will be fairly straightforward. Others, however, will be longer or more complex, so you will need a plan for how to handle them. For any expository writing—that is, nonfiction, informational writing—your first comprehension goal is to identify the main points and relate any details to those main points. Because college-level texts can be challenging, you will also need to monitor your reading comprehension. That is, you will need to stop periodically and assess how well you understand what you are reading. Finally, you can improve comprehension by taking time to determine which strategies work best for you and putting those strategies into practice. Identifying the Main Points In college, you will read a wide variety of materials, including the following: Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 8  Textbooks. These usually include summaries, glossaries, comprehension questions, and other study aids.  Nonfiction trade books. These are less likely to include the study features found in textbooks.  Popular magazine, newspaper, or web articles. These are usually written for a general audience.  Scholarly books and journal articles. These are written for an audience of specialists in a given field. Regardless of what type of expository text you are assigned to read, your primary comprehension goal is to identify the main point: the most important idea that the writer wants to communicate and often states early on. Finding the main point gives you a framework to organize the details presented in the reading and relate the reading to concepts you learned in class or through other reading assignments. After identifying the main point, you will find the supporting points, the details, facts, and explanations that develop and clarify the main point. Some texts make that task relatively easy. Textbooks, for instance, include the aforementioned features as well as headings and subheadings intended to make it easier for students to identify core concepts. Graphic features, such as sidebars, diagrams, and charts, help students understand complex information and distinguish between essential and inessential points. When you are assigned to read from a textbook, be sure to use available comprehension aids to help you identify the main points. Trade books and popular articles may not be written specifically for an educational purpose; nevertheless, they also include features that can help you identify the main ideas. These features include the following:  Trade books. Many trade books include an introduction that presents the writer’s main ideas and purpose for writing. Reading chapter titles (and any subtitles within the chapter) will help you get a broad sense of what is covered. It also helps to read the beginning and ending paragraphs of a chapter closely. These paragraphs often sum up the main ideas presented.  Popular articles. Reading the headings and introductory paragraphs carefully is crucial. In magazine articles, these features (along with the closing paragraphs) present the main concepts. Hard news articles in newspapers present the gist of the news story in the lead paragraph, while subsequent paragraphs present increasingly general details. Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 9 At the far end of the reading difficulty scale are scholarly books and journal articles. Because these texts are written for a specialized, highly educated audience, the authors presume their readers are already familiar with the topic. The language and writing style is sophisticated and sometimes dense. When you read scholarly books and journal articles, try to apply the same strategies discussed earlier. The introduction usually presents the writer’s thesis, the idea or hypothesis the writer is trying to prove. Headings and subheadings can help you understand how the writer has organized support for his or her thesis. Additionally, academic journal articles often include a summary at the beginning, called an abstract, and electronic databases include summaries of articles, too. For more information about reading different types of texts, see Chapter 12 "Writing a Research Paper". Monitoring Your Comprehension Finding the main idea and paying attention to text features as you read helps you figure out what you should know. Just as important, however, is being able to figure out what you do not know and developing a strategy to deal with it. Textbooks often include comprehension questions in the margins or at the end of a section or chapter. As you read, stop occasionally to answer these questions on paper or in your head. Use them to identify sections you may need to reread, read more carefully, or ask your instructor about later. Even when a text does not have built-in comprehension features, you can actively monitor your own comprehension. Try these strategies, adapting them as needed to suit different kinds of texts: 1. Summarize. At the end of each section, pause to summarize the main points in a few sentences. If you have trouble doing so, revisit that section. 2. Ask and answer questions. When you begin reading a section, try to identify two to three questions you should be able to answer after you finish it. Write down your questions and use them to test yourself on the reading. If you cannot answer a question, try to determine why. Is the answer buried in that section of reading but just not coming across to you? Or do you expect to find the answer in another part of the reading? 3. Do not read in a vacuum. Look for opportunities to discuss the reading with your classmates. Many instructors set up online discussion forums or blogs specifically for that purpose. Participating in these discussions can help you determine whether your understanding of the main points is the same as your peers’. Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 10 These discussions can also serve as a reality check. If everyone in the class struggled with the reading, it may be exceptionally challenging. If it was a breeze for everyone but you, you may need to see your instructor for help. As a working mother, Crystal found that the best time to get her reading done was in the evening, after she had put her four-year-old to bed. However, she occasionally had trouble concentrating at the end of a long day. She found that by actively working to summarize the reading and asking and answering questions, she focused better and retained more of what she read. She also found that evenings were a good time to check the class discussion forums that a few of her instructors had created. E X E R C I S E 2 Choose any text that that you have been assigned to read for one of your college courses. In your notes, complete the following tasks: 1. Summarize the main points of the text in two to three sentences. 2. Write down two to three questions about the text that you can bring up during class discussion. Tip Students are often reluctant to seek help. They feel like doing so marks them as slow, weak, or demanding. The truth is, every learner occasionally struggles. If you are sincerely trying to keep up with the course reading but feel like you are in over your head, seek out help. Speak up in class, schedule a meeting with your instructor, or visit your university learning center for assistance. Deal with the problem as early in the semester as you can. Instructors respect students who are proactive about their own learning. Most instructors will work hard to help students who make the effort to help themselves. Taking It to the Next Level: Active Reading Now that you have acquainted (or reacquainted) yourself with useful planning and comprehension strategies, college reading assignments may feel more manageable. You know what you need to do to get your reading done and make sure you grasp the main points. However, the most successful students in college are not only competent readers but active, engaged readers. Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 11 Using the SQ3R Strategy One strategy you can use to become a more active, engaged reader is theSQ3R strategy, a step-by-step process to follow before, during, and after reading. You may already use some variation of it. In essence, the process works like this: 1. Survey the text in advance. 2. Form questions before you start reading. 3. Read the text. 4. Recite and/or record important points during and after reading. 5. Review and reflect on the text after you read. Before you read, you survey, or preview, the text. As noted earlier, reading introductory paragraphs and headings can help you begin to figure out the author’s main point and identify what important topics will be covered. However, surveying does not stop there. Look over sidebars, photographs, and any other text or graphic features that catch your eye. Skim a few paragraphs. Preview any boldfaced or italicized vocabulary terms. This will help you form a first impression of the material. Next, start brainstorming questions about the text. What do you expect to learn from the reading? You may find that some questions come to mind immediately based on your initial survey or based on previous readings and class discussions. If not, try using headings and subheadings in the text to formulate questions. For instance, if one heading in your textbook reads “Medicare and Medicaid,” you might ask yourself these questions:  When was Medicare and Medicaid legislation enacted? Why?  What are the major differences between these two programs? Although some of your questions may be simple factual questions, try to come up with a few that are more open-ended. Asking in-depth questions will help you stay more engaged as you read. The next step is simple: read. As you read, notice whether your first impressions of the text were correct. Are the author’s main points and overall approach about the same as what you predicted—or does the text contain a few surprises? Also, look for answers to your earlier questions and begin forming new questions. Continue to revise your impressions and questions as you read. While you are reading, pause occasionally to recite or record important points. It is best to do this at the end of each section or when there is an obvious shift in the writer’s train of thought. Put the book aside for Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 12 a moment and recite aloud the main points of the section or any important answers you found there. You might also record ideas by jotting down a few brief notes in addition to, or instead of, reciting aloud. Either way, the physical act of articulating information makes you more likely to remember it. After you have completed the reading, take some time to review the material more thoroughly. If the textbook includes review questions or your instructor has provided a study guide, use these tools to guide your review. You will want to record information in a more detailed format than you used during reading, such as in an outline or a list. As you review the material, reflect on what you learned. Did anything surprise you, upset you, or make you think? Did you find yourself strongly agreeing or disagreeing with any points in the text? What topics would you like to explore further? Jot down your reflections in your notes. (Instructors sometimes require students to write brief response papers or maintain a reading journal. Use these assignments to help you reflect on what you read.) E X E R C I S E 3 Choose another text that that you have been assigned to read for a class. Use the SQ3R process to complete the reading. (Keep in mind that you may need to spread the reading over more than one session, especially if the text is long.) Be sure to complete all the steps involved. Then, reflect on how helpful you found this process. On a scale of one to ten, how useful did you find it? How does it compare with other study techniques you have used? Using Other Active Reading Strategies The SQ3R process encompasses a number of valuable active reading strategies: previewing a text, making predictions, asking and answering questions, and summarizing. You can use the following additional strategies to further deepen your understanding of what you read.  Connect what you read to what you already know. Look for ways the reading supports, extends, or challenges concepts you have learned elsewhere.  Relate the reading to your own life. What statements, people, or situations relate to your personal experiences?  Visualize. For both fiction and nonfiction texts, try to picture what is described. Visualizing is especially helpful when you are reading a narrative text, such as a novel or a historical account, or Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 13 when you read expository text that describes a process, such as how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).  Pay attention to graphics as well as text. Photographs, diagrams, flow charts, tables, and other graphics can help make abstract ideas more concrete and understandable.  Understand the text in context. Understanding context means thinking about who wrote the text, when and where it was written, the author’s purpose for writing it, and what assumptions or agendas influenced the author’s ideas. For instance, two writers might both address the subject of health care reform, but if one article is an opinion piece and one is a news story, the context is different.  Plan to talk or write about what you read. Jot down a few questions or comments in your notebook so you can bring them up in class. (This also gives you a source of topic ideas for papers and presentations later in the semester.) Discuss the reading on a class discussion board or blog about it. As Crystal began her first semester of elementary education courses, she occasionally felt lost in a sea of new terms and theories about teaching and child development. She found that it helped to relate the reading to her personal observations of her son and other kids she knew. Writing at Work Many college courses require students to participate in interactive online components, such as a discussion forum, a page on a social networking site, or a class blog. These tools are a great way to reinforce learning. Do not be afraid to be the student who starts the discussion. Remember that when you interact with other students and teachers online, you need to project a mature, professional image. You may be able to use an informal, conversational tone, but complaining about the work load, using off-color language, or “flaming” other participants is inappropriate. Active reading can benefit you in ways that go beyond just earning good grades. By practicing these strategies, you will find yourself more interested in your courses and better able to relate your academic work to the rest of your life. Being an interested, engaged student also helps you form lasting connections with your instructors and with other students that can be personally and professionally valuable. In short, it helps you get the most out of your education. Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 14 Common Writing Assignments College writing assignments serve a different purpose than the typical writing assignments you completed in high school. In high school, teachers generally focus on teaching you to write in a variety of modes and formats, including personal writing, expository writing, research papers, creative writing, and writing short answers and essays for exams. Over time, these assignments help you build a foundation of writing skills. In college, many instructors will expect you to already have that foundation. Your college composition courses will focus on writing for its own sake, helping you make the transition to college-level writing assignments. However, in most other college courses, writing assignments serve a different purpose. In those courses, you may use writing as one tool among many for learning how to think about a particular academic discipline. Additionally, certain assignments teach you how to meet the expectations for professional writing in a given field. Depending on the class, you might be asked to write a lab report, a case study, a literary analysis, a business plan, or an account of a personal interview. You will need to learn and follow the standard conventions for those types of written products. Finally, personal and creative writing assignments are less common in college than in high school. College courses emphasize expository writing, writing that explains or informs. Often expository writing assignments will incorporate outside research, too. Some classes will also require persuasive writing assignments in which you state and support your position on an issue. College instructors will hold you to a higher standard when it comes to supporting your ideas with reasons and evidence. Table 1.2 "Common Types of College Writing Assignments" lists some of the most common types of college writing assignments. It includes minor, less formal assignments as well as major ones. Which specific assignments you encounter will depend on the courses you take and the learning objectives developed by your instructors. Table 1.2 Common Types of College Writing Assignments Assignment Type Description Example Personal Expresses and explains your response to a For an environmental science course, students Response reading assignment, a provocative quote, watch and write about President Obama’s June Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 15 Assignment Type Description Example Paper or a specific issue; may be very brief 15, 2010, speech about the BP oil spill in the (sometimes a page or less) or more in- Gulf of Mexico. depth Summary Restates the main points of a longer For a psychology course, students write a one- passage objectively and in your own words page summary of an article about a man suffering from short-term memory loss. States and defends your position on an For a medical ethics course, students state and Position Paper issue (often a controversial issue) support their position on using stem cell research in medicine. Problem- Presents a problem, explains its causes, For a business administration course, a student Solution Paper and proposes and explains a solution presents a plan for implementing an office recycling program without increasing operating costs. Literary States a thesis about a particular literary For a literature course, a student compares two Analysis work (or works) and develops the thesis novels by the twentieth-century African with evidence from the work and, American writer Richard Wright. sometimes, from additional sources Research Sums up available research findings on a For a course in media studies, a student reviews Review or particular topic the past twenty years of research on whether Survey violence in television and movies is correlated with violent behavior. Case Study or Investigates a particular person, group, or For an education course, a student writes a event in depth for the purpose of drawing case study of a developmentally disabled child Case Analysis a larger conclusion from the analysis whose academic performance improved because of a behavioral-modification program. Laboratory Presents a laboratory experiment, For a psychology course, a group of students Report including the hypothesis, methods of data presents the results of an experiment in which collection, results, and conclusions they explored whether sleep deprivation produced memory deficits in lab rats. Research Records a student’s ideas and findings For an education course, a student maintains a Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 16 Assignment Type Description Example Journal during the course of a long-term research journal throughout a semester-long research project project at a local elementary school. Research Presents a thesis and supports it with For examples of typical research projects, Paper original research and/or other researchers’ see Chapter 12 "Writing a Research Paper". findings on the topic; can take several different formats depending on the subject area Writing at Work Part of managing your education is communicating well with others at your university. For instance, you might need to e-mail your instructor to request an office appointment or explain why you will need to miss a class. You might need to contact administrators with questions about your tuition or financial aid. Later, you might ask instructors to write recommendations on your behalf. Treat these documents as professional communications. Address the recipient politely; state your question, problem, or request clearly; and use a formal, respectful tone. Doing so helps you make a positive impression and get a quicker response. K E Y T A K E A W A Y S  College-level reading and writing assignments differ from high school assignments not only in quantity but also in quality.  Managing college reading assignments successfully requires you to plan and manage your time, set a purpose for reading, practice effective comprehension strategies, and use active reading strategies to deepen your understanding of the text.  College writing assignments place greater emphasis on learning to think critically about a particular discipline and less emphasis on personal and creative writing. 1.2 Developing Study Skills L E A R N I N G O B JE C T I V E S 1. Use strategies for managing time effectively as a college student. 2. Understand and apply strategies for taking notes efficiently. Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 17 3. Determine the specific time-management, study, and note-taking strategies that work best for you individually. By now, you have a general idea of what to expect from your college courses. You have probably received course syllabi, started on your first few assignments, and begun applying the strategies you learned about in Section 1.1 "Reading and Writing in College". At the beginning of the semester, your work load is relatively light. This is the perfect time to brush up on your study skills and establish good habits. When the demands on your time and energy become more intense, you will have a system in place for handling them. This section covers specific strategies for managing your time effectively. You will also learn about different note-taking systems that you can use to organize and record information efficiently. As you work through this section, remember that every student is different. The strategies presented here are tried and true techniques that work well for many people. However, you may need to adapt them slightly to develop a system that works well for you personally. If your friend swears by her smartphone, but you hate having to carry extra electronic gadgets around, then using a smartphone will not be the best organizational strategy for you. Read with an open mind, and consider what techniques have been effective (or ineffective) for you in the past. Which habits from your high school years or your work life could help you succeed in college? Which habits might get in your way? What changes might you need to make? Understanding Yourself as a Learner To succeed in college—or any situation where you must master new concepts and skills—it helps to know what makes you tick. For decades, educational researchers and organizational psychologists have examined how people take in and assimilate new information, how some people learn differently than others, and what conditions make students and workers most productive. Here are just a few questions to think about:  What is your learning style? For the purposes of this chapter, learning style refers to the way you prefer to take in new information, by seeing, by listening, or through some other channel. For more information, see the section on learning styles. Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 18  What times of day are you most productive? If your energy peaks early, you might benefit from blocking out early morning time for studying or writing. If you are a night owl, set aside a few evenings a week for schoolwork.  How much clutter can you handle in your work space? Some people work fine at a messy desk and know exactly where to find what they need in their stack of papers; however, most people benefit from maintaining a neat, organized space.  How well do you juggle potential distractions in your environment? If you can study at home without being tempted to turn on the television, check your e-mail, fix yourself a snack, and so on, you may make home your work space. However, if you need a less distracting environment to stay focused, you may be able to find one on your college’s campus or in your community.  Does a little background noise help or hinder your productivity? Some people work better when listening to background music or the low hum of conversation in a coffee shop. Others need total silence.  When you work with a partner or group, do you stay on task? A study partner or group can sometimes be invaluable. However, working this way takes extra planning and effort, so be sure to use the time productively. If you find that group study sessions turn into social occasions, you may study better on your own.  How do you manage stress? Accept that at certain points in the semester, you will feel stressed out. In your day-to-day routine, make time for activities that help you reduce stress, such as exercising, spending time with friends, or just scheduling downtime to relax. Learning Styles Most people have one channel that works best for them when it comes to taking in new information. Knowing yours can help you develop strategies for studying, time management, and note taking that work especially well for you. To begin identifying your learning style, think about how you would go about the process of assembling a piece of furniture. Which of these options sounds most like you? a. You would carefully look over the diagrams in the assembly manual first so you could picture each step in the process. b. You would silently read the directions through, step by step, and then look at the diagrams afterward. Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 19 c. You would read the directions aloud under your breath. Having someone explain the steps to you would also help. d. You would start putting the pieces together and figure out the process through trial and error, consulting the directions as you worked. Now read the following explanations. Again, think about whether each description sounds like you.  If you chose (a), you may be a visual learner. You understand ideas best when they are presented in a visual format, such as a flowchart, a diagram, or text with clear headings and many photos or illustrations.  If you chose (b), you may be a verbal learner. You understand ideas best through reading and writing about them and taking detailed notes.  If you chose (c), you may be an auditory learner. You understand ideas best through listening. You learn well from spoken lectures or books on tape.  If you chose (d), you may be a kinesthetic learner. You learn best through doing and prefer hands- on activities. In long lectures, fidgeting may help you focus. Your learning style does not completely define you as a student. Auditory learners can comprehend a flow chart, and kinesthetic learners can sit still long enough to read a book. However, if you do have one dominant learning style, you can work with it to get the most out of your classes and study time. Table 1.3 "Learning Style Strategies" lists some tips for maximizing your learning style. Table 1.3 Learning Style Strategies Learning Strategies Style Visual  When possible, represent concepts visually—in charts, diagrams, or sketches.  Use a visual format for taking notes on reading assignments or lectures.  Use different-colored highlighters or pens to color-code information as you read.  Use visual organizers, such as maps, flowcharts, and so forth, to help you plan writing assignments.  Use colored pens, highlighters, or the review feature of your word-processing program to revise and edit writing. Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 20 Learning Strategies Style Verbal  Use the instructional features in course texts—summaries, chapter review questions, glossaries, and so on—to aid your studying.  Take notes on your reading assignments.  Rewrite or condense reading notes and lecture notes to study.  Summarize important ideas in your own words.  Use informal writing techniques, such as brainstorming, freewriting, blogging, or posting on a class discussion forum to generate ideas for writing assignments.  Reread and take notes on your writing to help you revise and edit. Auditory  Ask your instructor’s permission to tape-record lectures to supplement your notes.  Read parts of your textbook or notes aloud when you study.  If possible, obtain an audiobook version of important course texts. Make use of supplemental audio materials, such as CDs or DVDs.  Talk through your ideas with other students when studying or when preparing for a writing assignment.  Read your writing aloud to help you draft, revise, and edit. Kinesthetic  When you read or study, use techniques that will keep your hands in motion, such as highlighting or taking notes.  Use tactile study aids, such as flash cards or study guides you design yourself.  Use self-stick notes to record ideas for writing. These notes can be physically reorganized easily to help you determine how to shape your paper.  Use a physical activity, such as running or swimming, to help you break through writing blocks.  Take breaks during studying to stand, stretch, or move around. Tip The material presented here about learning styles is just the tip of the iceberg. There are numerous other variations in how people learn. Some people like to act on information right away while others reflect on it Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 21 first. Some people excel at mastering details and understanding concrete, tried and true ideas while others enjoy exploring abstract theories and innovative, even impractical ideas. For more information about how you learn, visit your school’s academic resource center. Time Management In college you have increased freedom to structure your time as you please. With that freedom comes increased responsibility. High school teachers often take it upon themselves to track down students who miss class or forget assignments. College instructors, however, expect you to take full responsibility for managing yourself and getting your work done on time. Getting Started: Short- and Long-Term Planning At the beginning of the semester, establish a weekly routine for when you will study and write. A general guideline is that for every hour spent in class, students should expect to spend another two to three hours on reading, writing, and studying for tests. Therefore, if you are taking a biology course that meets three times a week for an hour at a time, you can expect to spend six to nine hours per week on it outside of class. You will need to budget time for each class just like an employer schedules shifts at work, and you must make that study time a priority. That may sound like a lot when taking multiple classes, but if you plan your time carefully, it is manageable. A typical full-time schedule of fifteen credit hours translates into thirty to forty-five hours per week spent on schoolwork outside of class. All in all, a full-time student would spend about as much time on school each week as an employee spends on work. Balancing school and a job can be more challenging, but still doable. In addition to setting aside regular work periods, you will need to plan ahead to handle more intense demands, such as studying for exams and writing major papers. At the beginning of the semester, go through your course syllabi and mark all major due dates and exam dates on a calendar. Use a format that you check regularly, such as your smartphone or the calendar feature in your e-mail. (In Section 1.3 "Becoming a Successful College Writer" you will learn strategies for planning out major writing assignments so you can complete them on time.) Tip The two- to three-hour rule may sound intimidating. However, keep in mind that this is only a rule of thumb. Realistically, some courses will be more challenging than others, and the demands will ebb and Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 22 flow throughout the semester. You may have trouble-free weeks and stressful weeks. When you schedule your classes, try to balance introductory-level classes with more advanced classes so that your work load stays manageable. Crystal knew that to balance a job, college classes, and a family, it was crucial for her to get organized. For the month of September, she drew up a week-by-week calendar that listed not only her own class and work schedules but also the days her son attended preschool and the days her husband had off from work. She and her husband discussed how to share their day-to-day household responsibilities so she would be able to get her schoolwork done. Crystal also made a note to talk to her supervisor at work about reducing her hours during finals week in December. E X E R C I S E 1 Now that you have learned some time-management basics, it is time to apply those skills. For this exercise, you will develop a weekly schedule and a semester calendar. 1. Working with your class schedule, map out a week-long schedule of study time. Try to apply the “two- to three-hour” rule. Be sure to include any other nonnegotiable responsibilities, such as a job or child care duties. 2. Use your course syllabi to record exam dates and due dates for major assignments in a calendar (paper or electronic). Use a star, highlighting, or other special marking to set off any days or weeks that look especially demanding. Staying Consistent: Time Management Dos and Don’ts Setting up a schedule is easy. Sticking with it, however, may create challenges. A schedule that looked great on paper may prove to be unrealistic. Sometimes, despite students’ best intentions, they end up procrastinating or pulling all-nighters to finish a paper or study for an exam. Keep in mind, however, that your weekly schedule and semester calendar are time-management tools. Like any tools, their effectiveness depends on the user: you. If you leave a tool sitting in the box unused (e.g., if you set up your schedule and then forget about it), it will not help you complete the task. And if, for some reason, a particular tool or strategy is not getting the job done, you need to figure out why and maybe try using something else. With that in mind, read the list of time-management dos and don’ts. Keep this list handy as a reference you can use throughout the semester to “troubleshoot” if you feel like your schoolwork is getting off track. Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 23