Posted in Uni work, Written by Jun

For those who are coming to Sheffield this year…

Hello everyone, my name is Jun. I work in 301 Academic Skills Centre as an internship. The new academic year is coming soon. You may have already sent out, or currently are filling, your application for a university course in Sheffield. But whatever status you are at now, I would like to give you some advice upon how you better harness academic resources  alongside your study through 301. I am convinced this will be very useful to your study. So, do get yourself well prepared beforehand!

301 is an in-campus academic training centre that belongs to the University of Sheffield. It is open to students in all levels of education. It is a cross-disciplinary academic institution that provides students with essential study skills and academic techniques. Armed with these, students can be very efficient and progressive in their study without serious obstruction. All services here are free; you just need to book your own place for a particular service, e.g. workshops, 1:1 tutorials.

Study Skills

The largest and most popular service in 301 is claimed as study skills. There are three types of study skills services we deliver to students. First, workshops (https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/301/services/workshops). 301 regularly runs workshops for three main areas of study: Academic Writing, Study Techniques, and Assessment and Exam Skills. Within each area, there are plenty of workshops available for you to choose. For example, Critical Thinking and Writing is a good choice for you if you would higher education university GIFlike to enhance your academic writing skills. Each single study skills workshop runs as an one-go but repetitive class, so you don’t need to worry if you miss one. If you would like to attend the workshops, you just need to book a place through your university account on MUSE.

Second, study skills online resources (https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/301/study-skills/index). Online resources come along with and the majority square with the workshops. Clicking above link you will see eight different sections (University Study, Maths & Statistics, Everyday Skills, Communication, Writing, Research, Assessment, Not Sure Where to Start?) with many different resources for each, focusing on different aspects of your study, such as speed reading, mind mapping, time management, etc. These skills are, I would say, not compulsory to have, but rather indispensable, if you aim to reach a fantastic academic outcome. It is worth leveraging these resources while taking some of the workshops at the same time.

Third, 1:1 study skills tutorials (https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/301/services/studyskills). You may have heard many times of the term ‘customised customer service’, but what on earth is actually identified as ‘customised’? Come to 301, you will be able

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to find the answer! 301 gives opportunities for students to have 1:1 tutorials with tutors here. This targets on those who have specific questions about their study and would like to show their work to the tutors for suggestions of improvement. The tutorial is only 30 minutes long but with quite intensive and in-depth conversations involved between the tutor and the student. The tutors are all well-trained, patient, friendly, enthusiastic and most importantly very knowledgeable academic researchers. Students can thus require rather useful guidance and feedback.

Maths and Statistics Help

Maths and statistics help is abbreviated as MASH (homepage: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/mash/home), which is a free service open to all students requiring support and guidance with mathematics and statistics.  Similar to study skills, MASH also involves workshops and 1:1 tutorials, both divided into maths and statistics.  What is more convenient than study skills tutorials is that you can either book your place online via MUSE or come through and drop in. You only need to pay attention to the opening times of MASH service here: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/mash/information/open. It is said on the website:

“During the first week of exams we will have both bookable appointments and drop-in support available daily from 10:00 to 13:00 for statistics and 13:00 to 16:00 for mathematics. For weeks 2 and 3 we will be open at the same times for daily drop-in support.

“From Monday 10th June MASH will be open on Tuesdays and Thursdays for drop-in only. Statistics support will be from 10:00 to 13:00 and mathematics support will be available from 13:00 to 16:00.” 

(Extracted from 301 website)

Apart from the workshops and tutorials, MASH involves online resources as well available for you to refer to your study. All these resources are rather helpful. You just need to thoroughly evaluate yourself and find out what you are weak in in maths and statistics skills.

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301 Academic Skills Certificate

The 301 Academic Skills Certificate gives students an opportunity to obtain recognition for attending study skills workshops, MASH workshops and/or other types of workshops in 301 and reflecting upon this experience. Through this reflection students will be able to identify changes and advancements to their academic skills that will lead to long-term benefits to their studies. The 301 Academic Skills Certificate acknowledges your commitment to enhancing your academic and employ-ability skills and personal development.

What you need to do to obtain the 301 Academic Skills Certificate is to a) participate in a minimum of four workshops during the academic year, and b) complete a 2,500 word piece of reflective writing (500 words on each workshop you attended and a 500 word overall summary) and submit online. But please bear the submission deadlines in your mind; it comes around the end of May for undergraduates and the end of June for postgraduates every year. Exact date information will be updated when the new academic year is approaching.

Please have a think about 301 resources mentioned above. These skills and techniques will certainly furbish your academic and study capabilities. We are sincerely welcoming you to participate in the activities with us and are ready to serve you with our best academic resources.

Thank you very much!

Jun

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Posted in Intern advice, Written by James

Exam Season Blues

The terrible, rainy weather has timed itself perfectly to coincide with the start of exam season. The final essay and project deadlines are up and revision season comes. Now you can get wet too and from the IC as well as being miserable! But don’t worry. You’ll survive. At the time of writing, its sunny and warm once more. But I’m not sure I trust it…

As a now postgraduate research student, I remember walking out of what will probably be my last undergraduate academic exam with a sense of relief that was palpable. For those of you still stuck in the rut that is exam season, you probably have your revision techniques ready by now. If you still feel like refreshing yourself, 301 has some resources for you, but otherwise I’m assuming that you’ve got all of that sorted. Rather, in this short little blog post I’m going to share some exam survival tips.

1. GET YOUR CALCULATOR APPROVED AND STATIONARY READY NOW

You’re still reading this? I said get it done now. There is nothing… NOTHING worse than forgetting to get your calculator approved by SSiD and having it snatched away before the exam. There are many reasons to fail an exam, but having the wrong equipment is not one of them. Once you have it done, you’ll be golden throughout the entire exam period and potentially every exam period you’ll ever experience. Pop into the Student’s Union, get your gear checked and pick up some new pens while you’re at it so there’s no chance of running out of ink! And don’t forget that clear pencil case while you’re at it!

2. Your body is a temple, your brain is part of your body, look after yourself!

This may see obvious, but the amount of friends I have had to tear away from their laptops to eat dinner surprises me. We work best when we’re well fueled, well hydrated and well rested.

Consider taking some snacks to the IC to eat while you work, energy dense and nutritious snacks like fruit (a punnet of grapes is pretty good) and nuts. Try to avoid extremely sugary food, as they’ll give you half an hour of energy then a crash.

Similarly, go easy on caffeinated beverages. Try to only drink them at the start of a task, and limit yourself to a reasonable amount, perhaps no more than four cups of coffee in a day, if that. Caffeine remains in your body and has effects way beyond the initial burst of energy, and too much will stop you getting a good night’s sleep. Then you’ll be stuck in a vicious cycle of feeling tired, drinking more caffeine, then feeling even more tired, so drinking more, etc.

Try and get some exercise throughout the revision week, either at the start of the day or late in the evening. Being sat down at a desk all day can cause quite a lot of back and arm pain, and with so much inactivity your energy levels can drop. Sport or exercise is not only a fun break from the grind, it will also get you consistent energy levels throughout the day.

3. Make a timetable/revision plan and stick to it.

A few good hours planning what you’re going to revise when will make a world of difference. But moreover, leave yourself enough time to occasionally procrastinate. You’re only human, and sometimes you’ll just not want to work, something will come up or you’ll just feel a bit ill and want to rest up. No plan survives first contact with the enemy, but at the same time that doesn’t mean tactics are rubbish. Plan around yourself, and don’t beat yourself up if you make a mistake. Rather, take each day as an attempt to make the difference.

4. Don’t lose hope!

In the end, these exams are not the be all and end all. Retakes are a possibility, marks can be made up and any degree is a good degree. We all want to do our best, but these exams are not worth undergoing any degree of harm over. Look after yourself and your friends and do the best you can, but I promise you, once they’re over and you’re on your next degree or beyond, all the stress can seem a little too much!

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Posted in student life, Uni work, Written by Tom

A Guide to…Western Bank Library

Before you view the best blog post that you will ever read, first I should tell you some bad news. This well be the last blog post I will ever do on here.

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I know, I know. It’s a sad time for everyone involved. However, as I leave you, the fellow 301 Blog viewers, I want to leave with you a special part of me. I want to leave you with my favourite place to study. My legacy, which I leave for you all, is a tour of the greatest library to man. I give you: Western Bank Library.

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The only bank which wasn’t bailed out in the 2008 recession.

“But Tom”, I hear you say, “Isn’t Western Bank stuffy? Doesn’t it have a weird silent area? Doesn’t it have books kept in weird cages? All my friends hang out in the IC and the Diamond, and they’re cool!”

Allow me to educate you all. Western Bank is where the truly hip kids hang out. The Diamond is for engineers, the IC is for everybody, and Western Bank is for the cool kids.

What’s so special about it? Over a million books. The IC has only just over 100,000. When you go to the lower floors, there are books that are in gated off areas because they are so rare. You came to uni to read, right? Well why not check out a leather tome written in Old English? Why not immerse yourself in an area where it can be you, your mind, a book, and your sheer contemplation away from any distractions?

I know, I know. This either sounds scary or unconvincing to the IC crowd. However, I hope to enlighten you all by taking you all on my own personal tour of Western Bank!

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So you enter this palace of wonder into the foyer. This is where people hang out and have lunch with multiple sofas available. It might not have its own café (although you can go next door to the Arts Tower if you are so inclined) but people are too cool to eat hot food on plates here. Instead, you’ll see the young whippersnappers munching on whatever they brought in their lunchboxes or portable food from elsewhere. This allows a more relaxed eating environment.

Another plus is that this open space allows you to meet multiple friends and also bump into others. You can truly hang out with a big group, which is useful to take decent breaks away from work. When you are in the IC and Diamond, you might decide to eat or have a chat at your work table. In Western Bank, with the provision that the upper floors are largely silent areas and no eating/hot drink zones, the foyer provides a sepeate place to relax. Your work isn’t constantly staring you in the face. You are in a different zone from that now, with friends, in a safe place.

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What makes this place such a vibrant spot to meet people is also Western Bank’s double edged sword. Because you will always see people coming down here to use the toilets and water fountain – the only toilets and water fountain in Western Bank. Rumour is that this is so because otherwise water pipes may leak onto the rare books here. Either way, it does prove an annoyance compared to the abundance of toilets available in the IC and Diamond. But what this does is ensure a good few minutes break in-between studying to keep hydrated.

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You go upstairs to the turnstiles, where you enter with your ucard. There is no monitor telling you how many people are in the building here. This is a place of mystery.

You go up the stairs to yet another lobby in which you can chill out. This is a more immediate place of respite to the silent area ahead. But there is a large amount of space here, sofas, printers, and the library help desk.

Onto the infamous area. The place some people dread, and others love. A room of polarisation. I give you, the silent study area:
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It has the sleek design. It has the glorious lighting. It has the book adorning its nooks and crannies. A lot of space and places to sit (unlike the Diamond!).

Many people feel uneasy here. They feel like making any noise in the silent study area, such as rustling paper, will attract the ire of all. Correction: people might look at you simply because it is some stimulus away from their work. It is a great place to concentrate, but every now and then people like to zone out and so they’ll have a look around. But know that everyone here is in the same boat to study, and no one is judging you because they are too focused on their work.

And now we go downstairs to the lower levels. As you go down further, the more obscure and older the texts go. Every lower floor is largely the same layout. You’ll find dark corridors of tomes, with the light only coming on as you walk past due to motion sensors. Personally, I find this pretty cool. Some might find it creepy. Whatever floats your boat.

There are multiple computers and study spaces to be found on these floors also. But on the second level, the main event: the cages! Again, some find them ominous. Personally, I love thinking what items could be so valuable that they need to be locked up. The Holy Grail? The Fountain of Youth? The real Da Vinci Code? I’ve never actually been in, but you can access it with staff help if you’re finding something specific.

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And that’s Western Bank for you. I hope my tour may have changed your mind if you were a doubter, or proven nostalgic if you’re a lover. And with that, I bid you goodbye. Good luck on all your 301 travels!

Posted in Intern advice, student life, Written by Arinola

On final year feels & learning statistics over the summer

What an unlikely combination of words, I know! However, whether you’re a final year student, are starting a Masters degree in autumn or are currently studying a PhD that requires some knowledge of statistical software, this is perfect for you. Just stick with me. 

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Like most other final year students, I am currently at the point where revising for my last set of undergrad exams and attending my last few lectures is seeming like too much to handle. As if that’s not enough, I am determined to enjoy these last few weeks with all my friends before some of us go off in separate directions for much needed summer holidays and to start our proper adult lives. It is a lot and no amount of warning can prepare you for the experience but I try to smell the roses when I can. It also helps that I’ll be hanging around over the summer to enjoy this amazing city that has become my second home.  

Amidst all of this, I still find time to obsess over the fact that I will be starting my MSc in Behavioural and Economic Science in September. Yes, I am a sucker for academic pain. The combination of the gruelling nature of my upcoming Masters and my need to find anything but the upcoming exams to think about led me to an interesting discovery. The university is running R and SPSS workshops after exams! I understand that it may seem very strange to find this exciting and I assure you that I am desperately looking forward to taking a long leisurely break over the summer. Yet, I can’t help but be happy that I can get an early start on learning R, which will be crucial for a few of my MSc modules. This is me smelling the roses 🙂

If you’ve been looking for an opportunity to learn how to use R or SPSS and don’t trust yourself to actually start doing some learning via YouTube or Codeacademy, I think this is a perfect opportunity. Especially if you’ll be here in the last 2 weeks of June when these are being put on. The R workshops are a total of 8 hours spread over 4 days and the SPSS workshops are a total of 10 hours spread over 5 days. Also worth noting, they all start at 10 am so it really won’t interfere greatly with your other leisurely plans 😉

Posted in All things 301, student life, Uni work, Written by Stefana

301 Study Skills Online Resources

The 301 Academic Skills Centre has a great variety of services available to all University of Sheffield students such as workshops, 1:1 tutorials, online resources, PASS, and the Academic Skills Certificate. In this blog post, I will be talking about the 301 Study Skills Online.

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Beside all the events that happen weekly during term time at 301, we also have a great variety of online materials. If the workshop you really wanted to attend is not available anymore or if you cannot attend the sessions, do not worry! There is plenty of information on the 301 website that can help you learn the skills you are looking for.

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The topics covered contain useful information about what they are and how they are related to academic work. There are also short videos giving tips and hacks on how to better grasp the subject covered. Useful and relevant resources such as files and templates are available to download. These can help you organise your academic work. Additionally, if you want further information on the topic there are links provided to both internal and external resources.

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Some of the topics covered are:

  • University Study
    • Independent Study
    • Note Taking
    • Reflective Practice
  • Everyday Skills
    • Time Management
    • Reading Techniques
    • Critical Thinking
    • Mind Mapping
  • Communication
    • Group Work and Collaboration
    • Presentation Skills
    • Poster Presentations
  • Writing
    • Academic Writing Overview
    • Essay Structure and Planning
    • Scientific and Lab Report Writing
    • Referencing
  • Research
    • Dissertation Planning
  • Assessment
    • Exam Technique
    • Exam Revision
    • Making the Most of Feedback
    • Mental Wellbeing

If you want to have a look at some of our online resources you can find them on the 301 Website under Study Skills Online.

I hope this was helpful and you will learn new and interesting things when using the online resources!

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