Posted in All things 301, Uncategorized, Written by Britt

Get off to a good start – brush up on your study skills!

The summer break is pretty long and once September comes I often find myself feeling a little unprepared for the year ahead. For me, it takes a while to get back into the swing of writing essays, reading literary criticism and contributing to seminar discussions.

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A great way to positively start your academic year is to brush up on your study skills with our workshops here at 301. Whether you’re a first year or third year, it’s likely everyone feels slightly rusty!  I found the workshops really helpful in developing my writing skills as they provided key hints and tips related to essay structure – something that I found particularly difficult to grasp during my first year.

We have a number of workshops coming up, all focused on different study skills – you simply choose the ones that suit your needs! Examples include Speed Reading, Time Management, Note Taking, Presentation Skills and Mind Mapping (and these are just some of the options we have!).

Also, it’s worth noting that attendance at the workshops is recognised by the university under The Academic Skills Certificate. You are simply asked to reflect upon your experience at each of the workshops in a 2,500 word reflective piece. This goes on your HEAR and can be used as evidence of extra-curricular participation – which almost always comes in handy for job interviews!

To book, simply go to our homepage at https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/301. It’s completely free!

 

 

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Posted in All things 301, Uncategorized, Written by Miranda

What is it like to attend a 301 workshop?

As it’s coming to the end of semester I decided to attend a workshop to try to improve my exam skills. In summary it was really helpful and I would definitely recommend attending a workshop.

Unfortunately, the workshops have now finished for this academic year, however this can be a heads up for booking on to ones next year and making sure you can get organised nice and early!

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Exam Technique (Essay Writing) Workshop

I attended the Exam Technique (essay writing) workshop and found it to be very helpful and engaging. It was just over an hour long which I thought was the perfect amount of time to squeeze lots of important information in – without being too long or too overwhelming!

The workshop is general enough to be relevant to all types of degrees (which would have essay questions in an exam) meaning almost anyone could attend.

We went through different types of exam essay questions, determining the different aspects within a question – its Topic, Instruction, Aspect, Restriction and Viewpoint. Doing this helped to clarify what a question is actually asking – and how to go about formulating a structured answer in a limited amount of time.

There’s lots of group work in the session so this is particularly helpful for people who learn through talking and doing! The leaders make the session as engaging as possible by making lots of little activities throughout it.

Reasons to go:

It gives you that much needed boost of motivation to kickstart your revision / essay writing / whatever you’re working on!

It improves your confidence in the area. This workshop assured me that I would be comfortable to tackle any exam essay questions by breaking in down into steps.

The workshop conveynors give you handouts and tips. For example one of the workshop leaders (both of whom mark exams – so know what they’re talking about!) suggesting writing page numbers on your answer booklet so you can refer to previous parts of your answer and to help the marker.

Workshops Available:

As I mentioned, workshops have now finished for this year. But next year make sure you go to the 301 website to see all the workshops available to suit everyone’s needs/ modules! Such as…

  • Academic Writing
  • Time Management
  • Critical Thinking
  • Dissertation Planning
  • Exam Revision Planning
  • Independent Study
  • Presentation Skills
  • Proofreading
  • Reading for Memory
  • Speed Reading
  • Scientific and Lab Reports
  • And more (!!!)

How to Book:

Visit the 301 website page and login with your Sheffield details to see all the workshops available and make a booking. At the beginning of the year why not drop into the 301 office and pick up a leaflet with the workshops on so you can make the most of them! If you attend 4 workshops you also qualify for the Academic Skills Certificate which is recognised on your HEAR.

 

Posted in All things 301, Intern advice, Written by Amber

Writing a Blog

As I’m sure you’ve realised by now, part of our role as a Student Intern here at 301 is to write blog posts! I’d never done any blogging before applying for the role here, and it can be quite a scary prospect as it’s an entirely different style of writing to anything I’d done before! Here are a few tips on blogging, whether you need to blog for a job application or you just fancy starting up your own blog for fun!

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Keep it simple

Your readers don’t want to have to work too hard to understand what you are saying! Even in a longer blog post you can keep your language and layout simple and clear to allow for easy reading!

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Keep it informal

This follows on from the previous point – your blog should be easy and fun to read so don’t write it like you would an essay. Keep the writing style informal and lighthearted!…. But don’t go too far, swearing and slang can be a big turn off for some of your readers and are certainly not appropriate for a blog affiliated with an organisation (like this one!)

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Use pictures

Engage your reader with the use of pictures, particularly memes or GIFs. These maintain the fun and easy vibe of your blog, draw the reader in and can enhance the points you are trying to make… And who doesn’t love random pictures and GIFs of cats?!

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Share your experiences

Although it may feel odd to talk about yourself and share your opinions to begin with – don’t be afraid or embarrassed to share your experiences as that is what blogging is about!

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Posted in All things 301, Intern advice, Written by Ellie

Should I Write A Dissertation?!

So it’s the time of year where everything seems to be coming to a huge climax. Exams are looming near, course-work is due in soon and those of us who are coming back in September have to start making plans for our next year of academia. I am currently coming to the end of my second year, so in the midst of all the madness happening around me, I have to make a huge decision: Should I write a dissertation?!

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My department is asking us to have our dissertation proposals in by the end of this month, meaning I have not got long to make my decision as to whether I will do a dissertation or not. In my opinion, writing a dissertation is something you will only ever get the chance to do once – unless you go onto postgraduate study – therefore, would it not be best to just grab the opportunity that you have been presented with? However, it is an extremely daunting task, having to find something that can motivate you enough to put hours upon hours of time and energy into – 10,000 words is a lot!

Here is the list of pros and cons:

Pros

Cons

A research project you are passionate about. It is easy to get lost, or alternatively to never get sufficiently lost and remain too superficial in your essay.
The opportunity to develop an interest studied in little detail on your degree. Not good if you struggle with deadlines.
The chance to develop your writing style and the ways in which you can structure extended essays. Essays of this length can be difficult to structure.
Good preparation for the MA or potential PhD. It can be hard to manage the number of sources you have read. Or find a sufficiently exciting thesis (argument you are making)
Your grades can go up. Your grades can go down.
Independent means no one will be making sure you are working consistently  

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Things that have helped in my contemplation’s have been the knowledge that there will be plenty of support available to me if I do chose to take on a dissertation.

Most departments will provide a supervisor, who can read drafts and evaluate my work and offer feedback on ideas.

The 301 is readily available with many workshops that will help with dissertation writing, such as: Dissertation Planning, Academic Writing, Proofreading, Searching for Researching and many more.

In my journey of contemplation I have been reassured that once in the swing of writing my dissertation, my biggest worry will be having too much to say and therefore feeling restricted by the word count.

It seems, at the end of the day, it has to be a personal decision, you need to take into account whether you think you are capable or not to work independently, and whether you are passionate enough about the research project to delve so deep into that topic.

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Posted in All things 301, Written by Maddie

Why sign up for the Academic Skills Certificate?

The Academic Skills Certificate is a way to enhance your skills, to show you are productive and to do something beyond your degree!

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The initiative started by 301 gives you the chance to use and reflect on all the knowledge  you have gathered from the workshops offered by us, that you’ve attended and gain recognition for it!

All you need to do is go at: http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/301/asc and fill in the registration form. Once you have done that, you can either attend 4 Academic, Information or Maths and Statistics workshops or use some of the ones you have already attended during the 16/17 academic year, write a reflective piece that will be assessed by the 301 staff members and you are done! Easy peasy!

But if this is not enough to convince you to register, here are some of the reasons why I think the Academic Skills Certificate is one of the most useful things I’ve done while at university:

  1. It gives you an incentive to attend workshops that will probably help you improve your study skills.

If you are an international student  or are just unsure of what is expected of you while at university, the Academic Skills workshops are a fantastic source of information. But, if you are a bit like me and find it hard to get out of bed sometimes because those 5 more minutes of sleep are so precious, then you will find it hard to actually attend all the things you have signed up for. Having registered for the Academic Skills Certificate will give you that extra push to attend the events, as you know that now you are striving to achieve something tangible!

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  1. It gives you a chance to fully engage with the content.

We have all been in a situation where we‘ve attended an event and took loads of notes because it was incredibly useful and then never looked at the notes again…. Ever… maybe even lost the notepad.That doesn’t seem very productive…

Because you will have to write a reflective piece on every of the workshops you’ve attended, you will have to turn your room upside down and find that notepad you took notes on and actually reflect on what you think were the most useful parts and even try to put them in practice. You’re welcome!

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  1. It shows you are proactive!

We are quite fortunate to have a university and a students union that has an activity for everything and anything. This can also be a bit overwhelming as you don’t really know where to go and what to choose. The Academic Skills Certificate is a particularly good activity to start with, as it helps you with your studies and because it can also go on your HEAR and Sheffield Graduate Award, which will ensure that your proactivity is showcases to employers too!

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And here you have it! Some of the things that I think make this initiative particularly useful to students that decide to sign up for it.

If you want to find more about it why not go for it yourself? The deadline for submission is coming up on the 26th of May for undergrads and 30th of June for postgrads so hurry up! There is still plenty of time for you to attend some of our workshops in preparation for your exams! Here is the link again: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/301/asc

Posted in All things 301, Intern advice, Written by Jenny

Getting back into the swing of things- revision back at Uni!

The theory goes that after a 3 week break you should be full of life and ready to revise, submit assignments and get straight back into the swing in of the final semester. But any student or former student knows that this is not really the case, the first week back is often a bit of a nightmare. Most likely the Easter break was a mix of gorging on chocolate, doing less revision than planned, catching up with ‘home friends’ and perhaps even having a mini holiday abroad. Or it may be that swamped in deadlines you didn’t really have a real break at all.

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With that in mind here are some tips from me to you on how to get those creative juices running and maximise the revision time that’s left and get back into the swing of things, with a focus on wellbeing.

  • Get some exercise. Be it a stroll around Weston Park, a half day in the Peaks or trip to the gym. Exercise has been shown to help lower stress levels and refresh your mind.

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  • Get a good sleeping pattern. Aim for around 8 hours each day, and tailor around your schedule and preferences to be an early bird or night owl. To enable this to actually happen you want to avoid screens for about an hour before you want to sleep and avoid caffeinated drinks after dinner.

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  • Put down the highlighter. A controversial opinion but some research indicates that the go-to stationary item may be less effective than thought, isolating instead of connecting information.

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  • Ditch the phone. If you’re anything like me having your phone on the desk is a distraction in itself, you want to check your messages, twitter, instagram and before you know it FOMO has kicked in and half an hour is gone. There are loads of great distraction minimising apps available (check the end of this post) if having your phone in another room is too much.

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  • Take proper breaks. Not ‘fake breaks’ that consist of eating and reading slightly slower or going to the toilet. In my opinion a proper break needs to be at least 20 minutes long and should occur every 40-90 minutes depending on what you’re doing. Think of all the things you can do; catch up on your favourite tv, crazy dance to Beyonce, have a catch up with a friend the possibilities are endless. (Just don’t let it go on too long).

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  • Don’t compete with other people. This can happen all too easily as the conversation moves on to revision, who cares if they’ve done 5 hours already or spent all night in the IC. You don’t know how effective it really was and everyone is different.

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Good luck with that revision!

Top distraction avoidance (free) apps:

  • Freedom.
  • Flipd.
  • Focus keeper.
  • Power Focus.
  • Study break.
Posted in All things 301, Intern advice, Written by Miranda

Successfully writing coursework…

Hi there! It’s Miranda again with some (hopefully) helpful tips on how to write a great piece of coursework. Now I’m in my 4th year I feel like I’m finally getting the hang of writing coursework and the best ways to go about it, so here’s some tips 🙂

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Attend one of our workshops

At 301 we run lots of workshops on Academic Writing to help you improve your techniques. This is the best starting point if you’ve never been to a workshop before. Even if you’ve written lots coursework at university, there’s always room for improvement and you’ll almost definitely learn something new. If you’re a workshop newbie you could attend the Academic Workshop: Overview session, or alternatively there are other sessions on academic writing flow or style.

There a workshop on Academic Writing: Essays at 14:45 on Wednesday 22nd March so why not book on?

If you’re still not sure which workshop to attend, check this mindmap out and it will tell you!

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(No 149. on the map)

Get organised, early

Ok, so this isn’t exactly ground-breaking, but the best essays are obviously those which have been most well prepared for (and generally not the ones written last minute..) You should do lots of research and planning, and then a bit more, and the best way to do this stress-free is to start early!

Write your introduction last

Although I’d heard this advice at the start of first year I never really tried it properly until this year. It might be tempting once you’re ready to start writing to just dive straight in, in an attempt to get as many words down as possible, but its really helpful to write the introduction last to make sure it gives an informative and concise overview of the essay. If you right you introduction last, and do it well, then you’re framing your reader to give you a good mark, too!

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Reference as you go along… Properly!

So you probably don’t leave all your referencing until you’ve finished the essay (unless you like to live dangerously), but do you reference properly? You can make your life so much easier by taking extra care to write down page numbers for references, and compiling your bibliography as you go along. There’s nothing more dull than having to go through and re-do all your references as the end, and if it’s boring you’re more likely to miss a mistake.

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Put it down for a couple of days

If you manage to get your essay completed a few days early you’re in a great position. It can be really useful for park it for a few days, and look at it with a fresh pair of eyes to see where you could improve it and to spot any errors.

Hope this helps, good luck!

Posted in All things 301, Intern advice, Written by Jenny

Dealing with the stress of Uni work!

Without a doubt University can be a stressful experience, sometimes you probably want to cry when thinking about the amount of work you have to do and sometimes you just ignore it in the hope it goes away.

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In my 3 and a bit years of study I’ve learnt a bit about dealing with the stress of Uni work and conquered the dreaded dissertation, so here are my tips…

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An actual photo of me after my dissertation.

  1. Easy to say in hindsight but don’t leave it all to the last minute, make sure you spend enough time planning, researching, writing and proofreading. Say you have 1 month to complete an essay, I would ideally spend 2-3 weeks planning and researching and 1-2 weeks writing and proofreading. Your stress levels will never peak above a panic threshold with this approach and you might actually hand it in early.
  2. Realistically, few will manage this. So if you do find yourself with a few days to write 2000 words you need to get practical. Ask yourself some key questions. Break it down into more manageable bits and it will seem less daunting.
  • What do I currently understand?
  • What do I need to understand?
  • How much can actually be read in the time left?
  • What sections am I going to use?
  • Am I answering the question?
  • Have I referenced?

Follow these questions through for a (slightly) less terrifying experience.

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3. Plan ahead. At the beginning of each semester you should roughly know what assignments will be given and roughly when, unfortunately this depends on the organisation of your department. If you know what’s coming it can’t surprise you, simple!

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4. And RELAX. Don’t forget to do breaks to do the things you love. Whether that is a few hours walking in the Peaks, playing video games for a few hours or having a nice coffee and cake. If you feel overwhelmed you won’t be productive.

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Good luck in battling through your Uni Work!

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Posted in All things 301, Intern advice, Written by Kim

What If I Can’t Attend Workshops?

Hi everybody! Kim here.

I have been promoting the benefits of 301 workshops to my friends and coursemates ever since I started working as an intern. Most of them expressed interest, but mentioned that they cannot attend it because they do not have the time or the workshop timings do not fit into their schedule.

Well, what if I told you that there are alternative ways in which you could get access to the workshop resources.

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Option 1: If you cannot attend the workshops, there are carousels by the entrance which hold summary printouts of all the 301 workshops. Some of the printouts have templates on them where you could bring them home and write or draw on them.

Option 2: If you do not have the time to come in, we have online resources of our workshops. 

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Option 3: If reading isn’t your thing, we have a couple of videos on our YouTube account with similar resource content.

Option 4: We also offer 1-on-1 study skills tutorials where you could choose your appointment and study skills to focus on with our tutors. The appointments are shorter than the workshops and you have the flexibility to choose your appointment slot.

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I hope that helps.

See ya next time!

Posted in All things 301, Intern advice, Written by Amber

Exam Revision Planning

With exams looming, back in December I attended the ‘Exam Revision Planning’ workshop in the hope of getting to grips with my pile of revision! The session tackles a number of areas in order to help you plan your revision successfully.

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We started off with a discussion about how we currently revise, to get everyone comfortable and chatting with each other.

Following this was my favourite part of the workshop – the VARK quiz. This tests which learning style suits you best – Visual, Auditory, Reading/writing or Kinesthetic. I found this really interesting and much more productive than the Buzzfeed quizzes I usually find myself taking to procrastinate!!!

I am a reading/writing learner which is what I thought I would be as I find writing out lists and revision cards useful. We then split into groups with other students who shared our learning style and shared our revision methods and techniques with each other.

Other areas covered by the workshop were how to decide what to revise so you don’t become overwhelmed, and creating a revision action plan to manage your revision effectively.

Keep an eye out for the new Revision Planning Workshops after the Easter break!