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 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 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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Posted in All things 301, Uni work, Written by Jun

How helpful are 301 academic resources to your study?

This is not an easy-to-answer question as the extent to which extracurricular academic workshops are useful really depends on whether you have found your own way to study your subject well. If you have not had a clear mind of how to effectively and efficiently manage your work, obtain knowledge and sharpen your academic skills, please have a serious think of attending 301 academic workshops. From any one of these workshops you can find something useful to a specific area in your study. I am convinced for you that the workshops in 301 are definitely different from other academic training courses you can see elsewhere. I will explain in more details below:

  • All-encompassing information

Image result for workshopsEach single 301 workshop takes place several times in a semester but is focused on the same content of knowledge. This means that you can come to any session on your convenience. In such 1.5 hour, one-session workshop, you get quite a lot useful knowledge, techniques and tips about how to significantly enhance the skills you focus on. During the workshop, the tutors give you opportunities to reflect yourself in terms of your advantages, disadvantages, level of confidence, etc. There are also opportunities for you to share your opinions or work on a task with other people, alongside several individual exercises. By fulfilling these tasks, you will be able to better understand the topic inside out and handle the techniques you learn more effectively.

  • Exclusive workshop slides

Every time after you have attended a workshop, the workshop slide used in the class will be immediately shared with you via email for your future reference. The content of slide is extremely useful because, apart from the content covered in the class, there are also some useful links and tips which the tutors probably did not take time to work out due to the limitation of time. Have a look at these links, and then you will find more useful websites, tools, software, text-based knowledge recommended by 301 team. For example, at the end of the ‘Paraphrasing and Using Academic Sources’ workshop slides there is a page with recommended useful resources wherein two are highly recommended: one is ‘University of Sheffield Library Information and Digital Literacy Resources’ and the other is ‘Manchester University Academic Phrasebank’. Both are commendable, especially the second one – the most value academic writing resource that I have ever seen (from my own point of view, but I believe most other people agree with me at this point).

  • Follow-up 1:1 tutorials

301 Academic Sills centre also provide you with opportunities to talk to the tutors individually through a 1:1 tutorial. This tutorial does not come along with any of the workshops here, but the tutors are very helpful to solve any problem related to or raisedImage result for 301 academic skills centre sheffield from your study in relation to what you learn from the workshops. It is therefore very useful to book a 1:1 tutorial to further consolidate the knowledge your learn from the workshop by looking at a piece of your work together with the tutor to dig up the problems you have and find a way to address so based upon the techniques you learn.

  • 301 study skills handouts

In 301 Academic Skills Centre, there are many free study skills handouts. They are focused on a particular aspect of university academic studies. You can take as many as you want if you think the are helpful to your study. Similarly, the handouts give you background of the concept, essential techniques involved and recommendations.

 

Recommended overall strategy of using 301 resources

Having talked about what you can obtain by involving in 301 academic resources, I would like to say that a good way to greatly make use of these resources is to combine the workshop, 1:1 tutorial and 301 study skills handouts. This is typically useful for those who are weak in one particular area and really want it to be improved. The workshops provide you with general and basic concepts and knowledge, the 1:1 tutorials make you further reflect upon what you learn in the workshops and have more in-depth understanding of the related techniques, and finally the handouts can give you an overview, mind-mapped, and summative information on top of the workshops and tutorials.

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I really hope these information is useful to you. Please do not hesitate to contact us through the email 301@sheffield.ac.uk. You are always welcomed!

Posted in All things 301, Uni work, Written by Jun

Do back up your work in your study!

Have you ever lost your data on your computer because of hardware damage or a glitch? I have, yes, just two weeks ago. It made me so depressed. The sudden breakdown of my laptop made my uni work significantly delayed, and the most terrible thing is that I data GIF by Ryan Seslow to redo quite a few because I had not taken a time to back them up before it crashed. Having learned a big lesson from this experience, I would like to share you with some tips of data backup throughout your study.

At the first place, I would like to repeat three times what I am going to say:

 

Data backup is not a big hassle; so, do it every single time after your work!

Data backup is not a big hassle; so, do it every single time after your work!

Data backup is not a big hassle; so, do it every single time after your work!

Okay then, let me talk about what exactly happened to my laptop and data.

My laptop is 2016 MacBook Pro. This model is a bit different from other MacBook models. The SSD (hard drive) is completely soldered to the logic board, which means that there is a risk of data loss if the logic board is damaged. However, there is a data transfer port on the logic board, from which data can be rescued via a special data transfer tool that Apple has. Two weeks ago, I was working on my laptop. All of sudden, the battery was gone and it could no longer be charged and finally it was not turned on anymore.

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[When this happened, I knew a nightmare was coming up to me. Can you imagine how I was feeling? Like this monkey in the GIF.] 

I sent it to Apple Store to get them diagnose what exactly happened. They told me the logic board got damaged and I needed to replace it if I would like to continue using it. They did the replacement for me and tried to recover my data. Unfortunately, when I picked up my laptop they told me that they tried many times but my data was gone because the logic board was terribly damaged.

I had no alternatives but reworked on my lost work. It was not too bad as what I lost was about two weeks work. But, it could have avoided if I had backed it up. It was not because I did not usually backup data. It was only the work I lost that was not backed up as I did not expect that a problem would fall down to my laptop. Anyway, I am going to share with you some important tips about how to save your data every now and then when you work.

  • Cloud storage

I highly suggest you saving your data on a cloud platform, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, iCould, etc. The advantage of cloud storage is that you can access to your data on any device at any place at any time. This gives you more flexibility to do your work. Most of these cloud platforms are free to use and have both versions for computers and for mobile devices.

  • External hard drive

The second way to protect your data from accident is to back up your data through your external hard drive. If you think your data really important ad you are very sensitive to data security, then an extra hard drive is necessary to you. If you do need one, I recommend Seagate, Western Digital and Toshiba.

  • Emails

Probably email is the securest way of data backup. Unless you delete them, the emails are always in your inbox. So it would be useful to have two different email accounts and share your work between them every time when you complete your work.

On top of these, the best way of data protection is to back your data up to these three places at the same time. This is particularly helpful when you make a breakthrough, for example a dissertation, a thesis, an article to be published, and so on.

Another good habit of data protection is creating your account and logging yourself in every time when you use the software that you work on. Do not forget to use the cloud service of the software so that your work can be automatically saved and synchronised to another device if it does have this function. For example, if you use Microsoft OneNote with via login mode, you will find all the notes you have made are automatically linked to your Microsoft account. It means you can access to your data wherever you are on whatever devices, as long as you log in to your own account.

301 Workshops

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Okay, let me give you some extra more tips, which I believe is of paramount importance on top of all those I have underlined above.

That is, the 301 Workshop of Independent Study. “Although at university you will need to make use of a wide range of core skills that are essential in a variety of different situations, it’s important for you to develop effective independent learning strategies. In an environment in which nobody will hold your hand, or tell you precisely what you should be doing and when, the art of managing and meeting personal deadlines – both social and academic – must be mastered sooner rather than later.” (301: Academic Skills Centre)

By attending this workshop, you will learn a set of skills of working independently, with the focus on the way in which you manage your study from across various aspects of self-learning. I believe that, with the skills you will learn from 301, plus the data protection tips I mentioned above, you will feel more comfortable in your study.