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Wednesday 14 January 2015

Have you been to the learning skills office?

What is the learning skills office?

So now you know who the learning skills team is (see our first blog) it’s time to introduce you to what we do here in the learning skills office – a busy hive with students from across the world availing themselves of our services.

To complement our online study skills resource succeed@solent (see second blog) two tutors, Helen Capstick and Carina Buckley, are available to offer help and advice on a one to one basis.

We can help you with various skills including essay writing, presentations, maths and statistics, referencing, research, time management, critical thinking – and much more!

We are based in ML002 just around the corner from the front desk of the Mountbatten library.

How do I make an appointment?

One to one appointments can be booked via email or twitter (@SucceedAtSolent), and run Monday to Friday between 10am-midday, and 2pm-4pm. At busy times of year we recommend making an appointment at least five days ahead to avoid disappointment.

Generally, one to one appointments last between 30-45 minutes and are tailored to suit the individual’s needs and requirements.

We can offer general advice and support regarding academic work as well as discuss the planning and structure of individual assignments together. Sometimes the sessions are simply confidence boosting. It’s good to talk!

Top 5 questions at the learning skills door.

We thought it might be interesting to give you a rundown of the most common enquiries we receive from students. As the bar chart shows (below), students approach us with a range of different problems.

Types of enquiries received by the learning skills team

The top 5 questions this term have been:

1. How do I structure my dissertation?

Coming in at number 1, all things dissertation-related are flooding in to the office right now.

Our main advice is to plan carefully. Generally speaking, a dissertation will need an introduction, a literature review, a discussion section, a conclusion and a bibliography. Some will also contain a methodology and a results section.

Drafting each of these in turn will be an immense relief to those of you out there who are having trouble getting started. Make next week your ‘introduction’ week; for the week after, dive into your ‘literature review’…

You’ll soon find you’re into a great work pattern without even knowing it. See succeed@solent for more information.

2. Can I get my grammar checked?

This question comes hot on the heels of dissertation woes. A grammar check is NOT a service we provide, but succeed@solent has recently launched a grammar book which is beginning to address some of these issues.

We hope that this goes some way to answering some of the main concerns. The language centre also offers students English language support – simply send an email to Jo Ellis for a 30 minute appointment and further information.

3. Have I referenced correctly?

Coming in at a close third, referencing is a crucial element of assessed work at university and needs a lot of attention. Without referencing, your work could be accused of plagiarism.

There are two parts to making (or ‘citing’) references:

  • Referencing within the text
  • Referencing at the end of the text (in the bibliography)

Remember, for referencing within the assignment you always need an author and date. For referencing at the end of the assignment you will need a complete record of the source you have used including year of publication, title and viewed date (if it is an online resource). Remember -the reference list is always arranged in alphabetical order by author, then year.

The succeed@solent guide on referencing and plagiarism is a good place to start for further information.

4. Have I been reflective enough?

Reflective writing is very different from writing an academic essay. Whilst essay writing is impersonal, considers the views of others, and uses third person, reflective writing is the opposite.

It is allowed to be personal, welcomes your own personal views, is written in first person and will often find solutions to problems. It is a much more contemplative piece than an academic essay.

For more help and a list of key questions to consider when reviewing your reflective work visit the succeed@solent guide to reflective writing.

The Downloadables section also contains a lot of valuable resources to help you review your own reflective writing.

5. What’s the difference between an aim and an objective?

This question crops up throughout the year but still continues to baffle and perplex!

Aims are statements of intent. They are usually written in broad terms. They set out what you hope to achieve at the end of the project. Objectives should be specific statements that define measurable outcomes. Ask yourself: what steps have been taken to achieve the desired outcome? When writing your objectives try to use strong positive statements.

6. Can I see you now?

Technically yes, we’d love to see you! Drop-ins are available but it depends on how hectic the office gets, so we recommend that you email us ahead of time to avoid disappointment.

And finally, for those of you who like statistics. The chart below shows the proportion of different nationalities visiting the learning skills office – look what an international hub we have become!

Proportion of different nationalities visiting the learning skills office (2013)

And remember – one to one appointments can be booked via email or twitter, running between 10 and 12, and 2 and 4pm (Monday to Friday). We look forward to meeting you soon!