Archive for the ‘Passing exams in the digital age’ Category

Study Tip – The Science of Productivity

Friday, May 30th, 2014

Exams are coming!  And life is already here.  Focusing and being productive are skills that need to be learnt, now more than ever as we traverse our  “always on” world.

Scheduling, timed breaks, deadlines and stop multitasking are a few of the tips in this video.

Watch it and pass.

The Science of Prodcutivity

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHfjvYzr-3g&feature=youtu.be

See more of AsapScience’s videos on their You Tube Channel
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCC552Sd-3nyi_tk2BudLUzA

Use the categories below – ‘Passing Exams in the digital age’ and ‘Study Help’, for more tips.

More about Brains (and exercise and learning)

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Netorama isn’t the first place I go for medical info but this article reporting on paper from the Journal of Neuroscience was interesting.

“We all know that being overweight is bad for your health, but results from a new study show that it can also be bad for your brain.   In fact, it can make you stupider.  From past experiments, scientists know that obese lab animals have poor memory and lower learning skills as compared to their normal-weight peer.”

“When the researchers put the obese mice on a daily treadmill regimen, they noticed that after 12 weeks, these mice have lost significant amount of belly fat and did better on cognitive tests as compared to sedentary mice.”

If you like your science to sound a bit more sciencey you can have a look at this also from the Journal of Neuroscience.

“Aging causes changes in the hippocampus that may lead to cognitive decline in older adults. In young animals, exercise increases hippocampal neurogenesis and improves learning. We investigated whether voluntary wheel running would benefit mice that were sedentary until 19 months of age.  Specifically, young and aged mice were housed with or without a running wheel..”

“After 1 month, learning was tested in the Morris water maze. Aged runners showed faster acquisition and better retention of the maze than age-matched controls. The decline in neurogenesis in aged mice was reversed to 50% of young control levels by running. Moreover, fine morphology of new neurons did not differ between young and aged runners, indicating that the initial maturation of newborn neurons was not affected by aging. Thus, voluntary exercise ameliorates some of the deleterious morphological and behavioral consequences of aging.”

Tips for passing at university

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

University is not school.   We expect students to change in the blink of an eye and become adults.  They are not.  We know they’re not

15 Ways of the Successful Self-Directed Learner

http://www.missiontolearn.com/2013/10/self-directed-learning-success/

E-Learning: Tips for Student Success

http://campustechnology.com/articles/2013/09/18/elearning-tips-for-student-success.aspx

Annie Murphy Paul’s blog – trawl through the old articles  here for a range of  excellent tips.

http://anniemurphypaul.com/blog/

Controlling Exam and Test Nerves

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

Mindfulness sounds a bit hippy, new age, vegan but research is showing it to be an effective way to improve exam performance.  I think this is particularly important in our “always on”, attention hopping digital age.  Our new technologies distract us into a state of being that is constantly outwardly focused.

Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.

Mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them—without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.
http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/mindfulness/definition

blairgowrie grass

Here’s a report from the the journal Psychological Science on how it can effect academic performance.
http://pss.sagepub.com/content/early/2013/03/27/0956797612459659.abstract

Better yet, have a look at Annie Murphy Paul’s summary of it.
http://anniemurphypaul.com/2014/03/how-to-focus-under-pressure/

If you are a Monash person you are in luck.  Check out the programs we offer to staff and students.

http://monash.edu/counselling/mindfulness.html

Recommended apps for new students (and academics)

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

Here are some applications that will help you organize your life.  There are a lot of these lists online but here are things I can vouch for.

Evernote.  – note taking -Install it on your IOS, Android and PC.  It syncs across the lot.

Dropbox (Google Drive, iCloud, SkyDrive) – online storage – Install it on each of your devices.  As soon as you create your assignment doc (and before doing any work on it)  save it to Dropbox.    You will never lose an assignment/project again.

Google Calendar – browser based calendar.  Set up your timetable (use the repeat event function), exam dates, holidays.  You can avoid the clutter by creating multiple calendars so you can separate social/family/work stuff.

Google Drive/Docs – browser based collaborative projects.

Other things to consider are Mind Map apps for brainstorming and organizing your thoughts, Flash Cards for exam prep, site blockers to remove distractions.  There are also a number of subject specific apps, some are useful, maybe your tutor can recommend something.

EasyBib looks interesting.  It lets you create citations from book barcodes.  Supports MLA, APA and Chicago style.

Don’t get too caught up in the app store adventure land.  There is no silver bullet app in there that will magically make studying easier.  Unfortunately passing still requires work.  Read the text book, go to lectures, take notes (sorry).

I have posted a few items aimed at helping students.   Check the category ‘Passing exams in the digital age’ to see other tips.

Hand writing your lecture notes is better than using a laptop.

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

Here are a couple of recent articles relating to note taking in lectures.

Pen-And-Paper Notetaking Superior To Typing On A Laptop

This article on Annie Murphy Paul’s blog talks about a study by psychologists Pam Mueller of Princeton and Daniel Oppenheimer of UCLA

“The students using laptops were in fact more likely to take copious notes, which can be beneficial to learning.But they were also more likely to take verbatim notes, and this ‘mindless transcription’ appeared to cancel out the benefits. Both groups memorized about the same number of facts from the lectures, but the laptop users did much worse when tested on ideas.”

“…these results suggest that longhand notes not only lead to higher quality learning in the first place; they are also a superior strategy for storing new learning for later study. Or, quite possibly, these two effects interact for greater academic performance overall.”

http://anniemurphypaul.com/2014/01/pen-and-paper-note-taking-superior-to-typing-on-a-laptop

10 Note taking Tips for 21Century Teachers

This one from Med Kharbach at the Educational Technology and Mobile Learning blog is about a book by Walter Ong, ‘Orality and Literacy’.

Here are some interesting highlights from it :

  • Humans forget things easily, and the more time passes the more we forget.
  • Only 10 percent of an audio lecture may last in memory, but students who take and review their notes can recall about 80% of a lecture.
  • University of Washington research suggests that physical writing ( chirographic ) activates regions of the brain that involve thinking, language and working memory.

http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2014/01/10-note-taking-tips-for-21st-century.html

And of course there’s an infographic.  This one is from Course Hero out of Cornell University

Write-it-Down1

http://www.coursehero.com/blog/2011/10/19/infographic-write-it-down/

I do have a a couple of questions (does anyone know where I can find the answers?).

  • Are handwritten notes on a tablet the same as pen and paper (assuming you are proficient using tablets)?
  • What is the difference between notes taken from a recording vs a live lecture.  Does physical attendance matter?

Turn off your smartphone at night and increase your productivity (and maybe pass your course)

Friday, January 31st, 2014

Those who follow this blog know one of my interests is the need to teach students some rules to avoid the pitfalls of using new technologies.

Here’s a couple of things I found via Annie Murphy Hall’s ‘The Brilliant Blog

“Children and teens who spend time watching television, playing video games or using the computer right before bedtime are likely to take longer to fall asleep than those who watch less or none, according to new research reported in HealthDay News”

Shutting down 90 minutes before bed seems to be the recommended time.
http://anniemurphypaul.com/2013/01/its-bedtime-for-your-kids-computer/

This second  study shows that smart phones are the worst culprits to cozy up with and actually decrease your effectiveness the next day.

“In a pair of studies surveying a broad spectrum of U.S. workers, Russell Johnson and colleagues found that people who monitored their smart phones for business purposes after 9 p.m. were more tired and were less engaged the following day on the job.”

http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2014/nighttime-smartphone-use-zaps-workers-energy/

Compounding the problem is the fact that more students are using their smart phones to study- 40% according to a study commissioned by McGraw-Hill.

http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/63c7bb29#/63c7bb29/26

So it seems that if you want to increase your chances of passing an exam,  shut down the tech by 9pm and turn off your phone  (that’s OFF, and NOT in your bedroom).   Get 8hrs sleep, and if you have cram after 9pm read your text book or notes (or e-ink eReader*)

*A lot of the research talks about blue light being part of the insomnia problem, so e-ink devices like the Kindle, Sony or Nook would be OK if you don’t use the back light, and turn off the wireless.
http://gizmodo.com/5524005/experts-kindle-helps-you-sleep-ipad-causes-insomnia

The smart phone conundrum

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

According to recent studies, more students are using their phones to study.  This isn’t a surprise.  They are more convenient, always in your pocket, and they getting bigger and more powerful.  Unfortunately they are also one of the biggest study distracters.

http://www.ecampusnews.com/featured/featured-on-ecampus-news/smart-phones-study-004/

medical app

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Perhaps we should be promoting apps that block online distractions as a formal part of our study skills orientations.

http://mashable.com/2012/01/03/block-internet-distractions-apps/

http://99u.com/articles/6969/10-online-tools-for-better-attention-focus

Control the internet and pass your exams (and tips for managing games)

Friday, October 11th, 2013

We’re into the end of year count down to exams and there is no more time for tooling around.

It’s time to abandon cat video’s, Steam, WoW, CoD, Minecraft and Facebook.

For those who are too weak minded to go cold turkey, here’s some help from Wired

Learn to Ignore the Internet and Steal Back Your Concentration

Capture

http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2013/10/concentration/#slideid-216191

A few tips if you can’t give up the games.

  • Set designated recreational times – with definite end times.
  • Put an alarm clock near the computer.
  • Play games with short time limits.
  • Don’t play server based collaborative games where you feel compelled to not abandon the team.
  • Play games that can be saved at any point, not at the completion of a level.
  • Put off Boss battles until your next designated recreation time.
  • Put off planning, or thinking about game puzzles until your Rec time
  • Do not set game Rec time  within an hour of Bed Time.
  • Set some contracted penalties e.g. your brother (who doesn’t wash his hands after the toilet)  gets the use of your guitar (or other precious item) for an hour for every minute you go over.
  • This applies to all digital games – console, PC, and phone (don’t try and play that semantics game with me).

Distraction and music and productivity

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

While this article is mainly about open plan offices and the why they suck (based on actual research, as opposed to the pro argument which is based primarily on speculation), the main thrust is about distraction and performance.

It also talks about music and cognitive performance which should be of interest to students.

lossy-page1-773px-Photograph_of_the_Division_of_Classification_and_Cataloging,_1937.tifhttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Photograph_of_the_Division_of_Classification_and_Cataloging,_1937.tif

http://anniemurphypaul.com/2013/09/working-smart-in-the-open-plan-office/