Thursday, June 21, 2007

The final push

It’s past mid-June so we’re half-way through many Summer 1 session courses. For many students, assignments are coming due and exams are just around the corner. If you’re like me, you might feel panicked, anxious and tired all at the same time, wondering, “How will I make it through to the end?” These feelings are pretty normal. Here are some tips that have helped me make it through the final push at the end of a course:

1) I re-focus on my goals. Successfully completing the course is my top priority right now. I have to accept that I may not be able to maintain “balance” in my life for the next two weeks. I can catch up on chores, family obligations, and socializing after final projects and exams are done. I tell my self: “The dirt will wait. I can vacuum the floor next week.”

2) I cut big assignments or tasks into small, manageable chunks. Writing a 20-page paper can seem overwhelming, so I think about a paper in distinct sections (introduction, background, literature review). I check off and celebrate small accomplishments. When I complete the literature review section, I will walk to DQ for a chocolate sundae reward.

3) I ask for help. If there are chores on my to-do list that must be done, can I ask a friend or family member to do it for me? Can I ask my mom to do my laundry this week? Can my boyfriend give me a ride to school, which will save me time and squeeze in a few precious minutes of togetherness? I remind my friends and family that this busy period will be over soon.

As we get to the end of this session, gather your energy for the final push and hang in there!


Friday, June 15, 2007

Answer the Question!

Have you ever received feedback that your essay did not meet the assignment requirements? To avoid this from happening again, follow the assignment description your instructor has provided. Often professors will use the assignment description as a rubric or as an indicator of key criteria that need to be included in a paper. The verbs used in the assignment description offer a hint of the expectation of the assignment. Check out our handout titled, Verbs Used in Essay Questions, to understand the kinds of responses required by different questions.

Another important way to view your assignment description is to look at the concept words used in essay questions to have an idea of the key concepts that you will need to address in your assignment. Another of our handouts titled, Concept Words Used in Essay Questions, discusses how to use concept words in essay questions to create a successful assignment.

Often instructors will include a list of questions that they will expect the paper to address. Below are some examples of assignment questions:

What is your assessment of this article’s contribution to …?
What is your analysis of ….?
How was the history of feminism affected by ….?

It is a good idea to structure your paper in such a way that the answers to these questions are obvious to the marker. This can be achieved by changing the question into a statement and using it as a subtitle in your paper. A clear thesis statement that includes the main aspects of your response will also guide the reader.

The above assignment description questions can be changed into the following subtitles:

An Assessment of the Contribution of ... to ….
An Analysis of ….
The Effects of … on the History of Feminism

Next time you sit down to begin writing your paper, remember to keep your assignment description close by, and refer to it often. This will help you to keep on track with your assignment response and avoid losing focus of your instructor’s expectations. Your paper may be interesting, coherent, logical, and grammatically correct but ask yourself the same question the instructor will ask: “Does it answer question?”


Friday, June 01, 2007

Welcome to the June Term

As we head into a beautiful Manitoba weekend, take a few moments to think about what’s happening next week so that you can enter the new week feeling prepared. For those of you starting courses that demand a lot of writing, take advantage of the free one hour LAC workshop on Tuesday, June 5 on Thesis to First Draft. Follow the link to read more info.

Remember, LAC staff are available to help you with study skill and writing questions from 8:30–4:30 Monday to Friday throughout the summer. If you’d like to meet with a staff member, book your appointment online. Click here for instructions on how to book online.

And remember, you can also submit a paper in progress to the online writing tutor with a 48 hour turn-around time.

Happy studying,