For me the academic year starts in earnest with the first winter storm; and when online seminars begin. It is frigid outside from something called the ‘lake effect;’ a phenomena with the same icy grip as ‘timed essays.’ Pittsburgh is near the Great Lakes and our first blast of winter weather always seems to coincide with the first seminar. The onset of winter, and on-line seminars, makes me very glad to be in an independent study program. I can read and write at home, snug as a bug in a rug. The English and Comparative Literature program has several print and online resources I can use for study support.
Refining how I use study resources is a constant part of my study plan. This term I have a demanding professional schedule and important study goals; how I use of study resources is very important. My ‘Student Handbook’ and a ‘Study Guide’ are always on my desk along with a selection of ‘Examiners’ Reports,’ seminar notes, writing exercises and text notes. Daily engagement with these tools is very helpful. During the past three years I have used study resources but less deliberately. This term I want more engagement with texts and with essay questions. After reviewing my exam results over the last few years I noticed a pattern in my essays; I have not fully answered the questions. My answers are partially framed because I engage with texts too generally. Study resources help me to engage with texts and questions in more detail.
I review ‘Study Guide’ and essay questions before and after every study session; there is a binder of tutors’ seminar comments beside me. Even if I read only one page of text in a study session I still make notes about how it relates to learning outcomes, specific questions, text analysis or theory. The ‘Student Handbook’ and ‘Examiners’ Reports’ contain handy coaching for writing essays. The ‘Examiners’ Reports’ review each question and helpfully note ‘A good answer to this question would include…’ This is just what I need; an excellent outline of question rubric, essay content and research goals.
Research is an important component of my study plan this term. The Athens Library tutorials taught me to research efficiently, export citations and build a working bibliography. This term I am researching and re-writing two timed essays previously submitted in the marking scheme. Developing a comprehensive research framework for each text I study improves my engagement skills; besides it is my kind of fun.
My kind of fun involves engaging intensely with this great literature while refining my learning process. Working this way improves my focus, concentration and engagement; help with focus, concentration and engagement are always welcome in my seventeen hour days. I feel as if our tutors are perched on the edge of my desk. It is very motivating and inspiring to be snowed in until the spring thaw with these helpful study resources. I have always enjoyed our study resources; this year I am finding more benefits than I ever expected.