Strategic study techniques
To be successful in your studies you need to feel motivated and want to learn. Have you identified your goals relating to your studies? Your motivation is helped by having a clear purpose, and a view of
- your short-term goals, such as getting to grips with a difficult concept, or completing an assignment
- your long-term goals, which might include your career development, passing a module, or obtaining a qualification.
When study gets tough it can help if you motivate yourself with a small reward. What do you really like doing? Promise yourself a relaxing swim, lunch with a friend, or your favourite TV programme if, for example, you
- do at least two hours of study each day
- keep to your schedule
- send your assignment in on time.
I now make sure that whatever I'm working on I give myself a reward or a break after forty-five minutes. It's something to look forward to and it keeps me going. It's made a tremendous difference.
Knowing that your study is contributing to your personal development is very motivating. If you are studying to improve your career then you can make a direct connection between the skills you are learning now and your plans for the future. With each module you complete your confidence will grow as you evaluate your success and see the opportunities you have created for yourself to take on more advanced study. Receiving credit from family, friends and your employer for the achievements you have made through your effort and determination is a powerful motivating force.
Reviewing your progress so far not only gives your confidence a boost, it's an opportunity to assess your skills development and consider where to focus next.
In the following video, tutors and OU students offer study tips to help you get started.
Tutors and students have plenty of study tips to help get you started90
Emma (Learning Advisor): If I could pass on just one study tip to a new student it would be to get organised.
Jed (Student): Figure out as far ahead as you can, your schedule and where to fit things in.
Michael (Student): And prioritising is one of the major things that I feel most people who are studying should actually try and get into their heads.
James (Student): Read through the material, and then go back to it with your highlighter which is the OU student's friend.
Mark (Tutor): Write on your text books. It's a way to actually engage with the material.
Fran (Student):And I know lots of other people on the courses sometimes go you scribbled in your book! You've got these beautiful books but it's OK. They're there to be used. It's much better if you colour them in.
Lynn (Student):And I put little post-its all over the page and sticking out at the side.
Cynthia (Student):I was writing my facts on them and I was sticking them down and then I could move them around.
Matthew (Student):It's important to take a break every now and again and refresh your mind.
Ian (Student):I find that exercise actually greatly helps to improve concentration.
Mel (Student): For an exam or assignment question, the first thing I'd do is to read the question, then re-read the question - a tip from my dad.
Katherine (Student):Breathe. I breathe when the exam starts.
Rachel (Student):Just take your time and persevere with things and don't get too worried if you can't do something.
Lijing (Student):You should make full use of the online resources.
Ruth (Associate Lecturer):If they get the chance to go to tutorials they really should take that opportunity.
Derek (Associate Lecturer):If in any doubt consult your tutor.
Robin (Student):There's always somebody you can talk to.
Joanne (Student):So if you need help, don't suffer alone. Ask.