Posts about: Academic Skills

Disability Awareness Day, Sunday 16th July

5 July 2017

Did you know that Sunday 16th July is Disability Awareness Day? The world’s largest voluntary-led disability exhibition is held in the grounds of Walton Hall Gardens, Warrington. For more details please see http://www.disabilityawarenessday.org.uk

The University of Salford, and The Library in particular, have many features in place to ensure their services are as accessible as possible. These include mind-mapping software (Inspiration), screen reading (Jaws), and the numerous applications available on My Study Bar – the latter should be available on all networked student pcs. To find out more, including accessible access to the different Library sites, go to http://www.salford.ac.uk/library/help/accessibility

Email etiquette tips

30 June 2017

 

Email etiquette cartoon

Cham, J. (2015). How to write an e-mail to your instructor or T.A. Retrieved from http://phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=1795

 

 

When emailing friends it is fine to use an a familiar and informal style, however, when you write an email about a job application or internship, an interview or when emailing your tutors it is good practice to adopt a more formal style.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tips for writing a formal email:

  • First impressions count – Think about your email address a prospective employer might remember you for all the wrong reasons if you contact them using an email address such as wildandcrazygeek@gmail.com.  It is a much better idea to use your university email account – you can forward emails from this account to your personal email using the instructions here.
  • Include a greeting– if you know your tutor using their first name in the greeting is fine. If you do not have a familiar relationship with them then use their family name e.g. Dear Dr. Smith.  If you are applying for a job and don’t know the name of the person who will be reading your email it is good practice to include the greeting Dear Sir or Madam.
  • Use the subject line and be informative – try to avoid just typing “hello” or “help”. If emailing your tutor tell them why you are contacting them e.g. Query about case study in Clinical Skills lecture.  If you are applying for a job include details about the job being applied for e.g. Application for Library Assistant post ref: LIB/6291.
  • Avoid text speak – Save ROFL and YOLO for emails to friends. Use full sentences and punctuation when emailing tutors and prospective employers.  Use the spell check to make sure your message is correct before pressing send.
  • DON’T SHOUT – Names, dates, places, most acronyms and the start of a new sentence should be capitalised, entire sentences shouldn’t.
  • Size matters – Tutors and employers are busy people so be as concise as possible. Also avoid sending large attachments – find information about compressing files here.
  • Provide details – Give the person you are contacting the information they need to answer your query effectively e.g. if you are querying something that was said in a lecture include the date and time.
  • Good manners cost nothing but are always appreciated – include a please and thank you when making a request.

    Photo of Sue

    Sue is blogging about email etiquette.

  • Include a sign off:
    1. To a tutor – “best wishes” or “regards”
    2. To a prospective employer you have addressed as Dear Sir or Madam the sign off should be “Yours faithfully”.
    3. To a prospective employer when the name is known e.g. Dear Mr. Smith the sign off should be “Yours sincerely”.

The sign off should be followed by your full name.

 

World Giraffe Day

21 June 2017

Today is World Giraffe Day, an annual event supported by the Giraffe Conservation Foundation to celebrate the longest-necked animal in the world on the longest day of the year (or longest night if you happen to be on the other side of the planet).

giraffe

Not only is 21st June the longest day, it is also the First Day of Summer – and this means that the Summer Wordscope workshops are about to begin. This is a great opportunity to improve your academic writing skills – becoming a conscious, coherent and skilled writer will increase your chances of a higher class degree – and help you with your career after graduation.

Learn more about Summer Wordscope here.

Go on, stick your neck out!

Finding pictures the legal way (1/3)

21 June 2017

When you’re looking for pictures to illustrate or enhance your academic work, how do you search? Do you ‘copy and paste’ from the internet, as a student recently told me? Or simply type your search term in that old reliable, Google?

Unless you’re careful, searching like this can contravene copyright law and potentially get you into legal trouble. Whenever you find an image through a regular Google search, there’s a good chance that it either:

  • has a license which forbids you to use it, or
  • has no license at all

Assuming that you didn’t ask for prior permission to use the content, it’s illegal to use it if either of these two cases applies.

Fortunately, there are various ways to search for images that are OK to use in your academic work, for presentations and in your professional life. Here are the two simplest ones.

  1. If you want to use Google, here’s how to search for pictures on Google the legal way:
  • Go to Google and type in your search term.
  • Do an image search.
  • Click Tools
  • Click Usage Rights
  • Select ‘licenced for reuse’
  • All the pictures that display are fine for you to use.

2) Another option is to use the inbuilt creative commons image search within Microsoft Word and PowerPoint (in versions 2013 and 2016). From within your document, go to the ‘Insert’ menu on the ribbon and select ‘Online Pictures’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This will take you to a Bing search engine which will return Creative Commons (ie safe to use) images for you.

Sometimes, the results from Google and Microsoft alone may be disappointing. Next time: some alternative safe search engines for pictures that will give you brilliant results.

Wordscope workshop places now available!

19 June 2017
Tracy Breheny

Tracy tells you how to book onto a Wordscope workshop.

Now all of the exams and essays for the second Semester are complete, some of you will be looking forward to a productive summer of reading and preparation for the next semester, and so a constructive and dedicated Academic Writing programme may be just what you need in order to keep you focussed. Or, it could be that you have re-submissions due in the next few weeks for Semester one and/or two and you could do with extra help at both an instructive and personal tutor level. Either way, from now on your marks will be weighted significantly towards your degree class, so it is with this in mind that Dr Carson Bergstrom has developed a short course of Academic Writing Skills.

Based on the “Wordscope” format, the course will be an intense and shortened version of the original, delivered in a series of six workshops. The skills and strategies covered will not only enhance the way that you write but also the way that you organise and structure your thoughts, ideas, and research. Evidence from the “Wordscope programme indicates that if you attend six workshops, you should improve your grades by at least six marks. It is not rocket science: becoming a conscious, coherent, and skilled writer will increase your chances of a higher degree class.

So, what are you waiting for? The schedule of classes can be found here: http://www.salford.ac.uk/wordscope/home/workshop-timetable-and-how-to-attend. Once you decide which group suits, please click on the relevant ‘Click to register‘ link, which will book your place via Advantage. Places are limited, so register your interest before it is too late!

For further information about Wordscope, please see the webpage here: www.salford.ac.uk/wordscope.  If you have any further questions about Wordscope, you can contact them directly at: wordscope@salford.ac.uk.

 

Surviving your exam

1 May 2017

If you have exams coming up, here are some top tips to help you do your best

  1. Double check the time, date and location of the exam. You don’t want to go to the wrong building or miss the exam! Also check what you’re allowed to take in with you.
  2. Try not to stay up late the night before doing last-minute revision.
  3. Eat a good breakfast / lunch beforehand.
  4. In the exam, make sure you read the paper thoroughly from start to finish before you try to answer anything. Check the instructions (e.g. do you have to answer all of part A and choose one question from part B?) Don’t rush!
  5. If it’s an essay-based exam, look at how many marks each part is worth, and split the time between the questions accordingly.
  6. Plan your answer – jot down the main points you want to include, and think about how you’ll structure your answer before you start writing. If your mind’s gone blank, try and write down anything relevant you can think of, and hopefully this will help you to remember more information.
  7. You don’t always have to answer the questions in order, as long as it’s clear which answer goes with which question. This is particularly useful for short answer papers, where you might want to leave a tricky question out and come back to it later.
  8. Answer the question! Don’t just waffle on and tell the marker everything you know about the topic.
  9. Read it through afterwards to check your answers make sense.
  10. Ignore everyone else! The person next to you might have filled four answer booklets, but they could have written complete rubbish…

For more help, see the Skills for Learning exam pages. Good luck!

Hop to it!

28 April 2017

Tomorrow is Save the Frogs Day

– the world’s largest day of amphibian conservation and education. You can read more about it on their website.

frog

Meanwhile, for many of you, your own year of education is nearly at its end –

and exams are just around the corner.

Many of us find exams quite alarming, but don’t worry, Skills for Learning has lots of advice to help with

You can find lots of good tips on Twitter too skillupUS and #SalfordSmart.

As well as the academic preparation for exams, taking care of your health will help you cope with stress and improve your chances of success. Try to eat well, get plenty of sleep and find time get some fresh air and exercise. The Wellbeing Service has lots of good advice to help you be at your best.

And if you are out walking this weekend, please take care where you step. You never know where a frog might be.

Panicking about Exams? Come to our Exams and Revision Workshop 2nd May 2pm

26 April 2017

With exams looming you may feel like panicking…


Hold that thought! The Skills for Learning Team are delivering an exam and revision workshop on 2nd May at 2pm.

We’ll be covering exam preparation, revision strategies and top tips for the day of your exam.

Book on to the workshop via the following link:

https://myadvantage.salford.ac.uk/students/events/detail/509639

Any questions please email studyskills@salford.ac.uk

 

Tips, tools and apps to help with revision

26 April 2017
Amy Pearson

Need help with revision? Here are some tips and tools to help you.

We all know that revising is tough. It is difficult to know where to start and very easy to get drawn into other things. Here are a few tips, tools and apps to help you ace your revision!

Tips

The trick to revision is to use more than one strategy to give yourself some variation on how you are revising. It is better to revise ‘actively’ (giving your brain something to do with the information) than revise ‘passively’ (just reading things through). This should make revision less boring, as well as helping you remember material!

You can try the following:

  1. Using colour coded highlighters or sticky notes to draw your attention to main themes or topics in your notes
  2. Summarise your notes. Then, when ,you are confident with the material, summarise again, until you have a set of cue cards or one A4 crib sheet per topic
  3. Use spider diagrams (or mind maps), timelines, pros and cons lists or any other kind of diagrammatical note-taking techniques to see the information in a different, condensed way
  4. Practice doing exam questions from past papers under exam conditions
  5. If there are ‘facts’ or ‘figures’ you need to memorise, try writing them on sticky notes and leaving them in places you see them all the time (e.g. your kitchen cupboard or by your mirror)
  6. Try making up exam questions (although do be careful not just to make up ones which you’d like to answer!). This helps to put yourself in the mind-set of your tutors. If you were them, what would you test student on?

(From our Revision Study Guide)

Apps and Online Tools

If you like your technology then you might find these apps and online tools helpful.

ThingLink

With ThingLink you can make your images come alive with video, text, images, links and music. Such a great tool for revision if you are a visual learner. Pick an image that you associate with the topic and then add text, links, videos to it that cover the key information. When you need to recall the topic you can mentally work your way around the image and visualise the information you added to it. You can download the app or access it online. Simply go to the ThingLink website to get started.

Padlet

You use Padlet to post text, video, images or links onto a virtual wall. Your Padlets can be visible just to you or you can let others read and contribute to them. You can use it online or download an App. This could be a really useful tool for revision as you can summarise topics and use the Padlet app to access your summaries whilst you are on the bus! Go to the Padlet website to get started.

Flashcards+

According to the website you will be able to ‘memorize like a pro when you’ve got flashcards in your pocket’. This app is handy for revision as you can create flashcards for key topics or theories and use these to test your recall of the topic. If you are studying a subject that requires you to memorize images then you can easily add them to the flashcard. This is a great app if you like to learn in this way. Find out more about it on the Flashcard+ website.

Exams… preparation is the key!

24 April 2017
Tracy Breheny

Tracy tells you how to find past exam papers to help with your exam preparation.

Got exams coming up?  Looking over past exam papers can be really useful when preparing for an exam.   The Library has a collection of past exam papers which are all available electronically.

To find past exam papers, you need to:

  1. Go to our past exam paper webpage here: http://www.salford.ac.uk/library/research/exam-papers
  2. Type in a couple of keywords to limit your search; often words from the module title bring back useful results.
  3. You will then be presented with a list of past exam papers we have access to that match your search. When you find the one you would like to look at, click on the title and you will be able to open it.
  4. If you are off-campus, you will be requested to sign in with your network username and password to view them.

If you have any problem accessing past exam papers, please contact your Academic Support Librarian for further help: http://www.salford.ac.uk/library/help/academic-support

There is also lots of help with exam preparation and revision tecniques available on our Skills for Learning webpage here: http://www.salford.ac.uk/skills-for-learning/home/assessment-revision-and-exams so take a look!

Good luck with your exams!