Student Survival Guide
As an online student, it is important to realize that there are certain strategies that need to be incorporated in order to specifically cultivate the responsibilities that will lead to successful study. For this reason, a Student Survival Guide is vital to help such a student keep on track not only with the study material, time management and work ethic, but also with ethical issues such as upholding academic honesty. To create a student guide, five areas are considered in terms of actions to achieve success in the overall study program. These areas include: Conducting Successful Library and Internet Searches, Upholding Academic Honesty, Developing Effective Study Skills, Managing Time Wisely, and Setting and Achieving Goals. Each of these is considered in turn, with specific strategies for achieving success.
Conducting Successful Library and Internet Searches
We live in what has come to be known as the Information Age. This is both good news and bad news for students. It is good news, because never before has studying, enrolling for classes, and finding information on any number of topics – no matter how obscure – been so simple. The bad news however is that there is so much information on any given subject that it is sometimes difficult to distinguish legitimate information from other sources that might not be academically sound. In the search for valid information, it is therefore useful not to rely only on the Internet when searching for sources on a research paper.
There are several sources that can be utilized for a research project. Depending upon the extent of my own background knowledge on the topic, I could for example approach lecturers or other experts on the topic, search the library for books, and/or search the Internet for information. In a case where I have little or no background information regarding a topic, I believe the most beneficial first step would be to talk to experts in the field. Most likely, these would be online contacts in the form of my professors. These persons can then give me valid sources in the form of both library reading and online information. Talking to experts as a first step helps to save time in terms of searching out legitimate information. If I have a medium to thorough level of knowledge on a topic, I would investigate library sources first and then combine these with information from the Internet in order to establish the validity of online sources and also to supplement my knowledge base from the Internet.
There are also other ways in order to establish the validity of Internet resources. Universities often make academic information available online. These are often distinguished by a URL ending in.”edu.” Other Web site creators include an “About” or “Bibliography” page in containing the credentials of the information provider. These usually also include contact information for the Web site owner. This can be useful in obtaining more information regarding the topic, or clarifying the Web site content. Internet searches can be very valuable in supplementing library information when used correctly (Chilimo, Emmanuel and Lwoga, 2006)
2. Upholding Academic Honesty
Upholding academic honesty is taken very seriously by both online and physically located Universities. First, it is necessary to give some thought to what exactly is meant by academic honesty. When entering school as children, we are taught from the very beginning that handing in work that we have not done ourselves to be graded as our own is cheating and punishable by a variety of very strict punishments. In the professional world, plagiarism is also seen as a very serious offence. Once found out, perpetrators of this offence bear the lifelong burden of disrepute. It therefore makes sense that an academic institution, in preparing its students for professional life, should also follow this paradigm.
Furthermore, on a more individual level, it is better for the student him- or herself to hand in legitimately completed work with any outside sources cited in the correct manner. The reason for this is that the student has enrolled in the course to learn. Handing in assignments completed by somebody else defeats the learning process. It is only by doing one’s own work that that one can learn from the task itself and from mistakes. Furthermore, there is nothing like the feeling of obtaining high grades for work completed on one’s own in a legitimate fashion. The harder the work, the more satisfying the result.
As a student, it is also important to guard against the temptation to cheat. Once the stress becomes overwhelming, and deadlines begin to loom, for example, the temptation to plagiarize may appear to be an increasingly welcome solution. Nevertheless, it is more important to keep one’s integrity as a student and miss a deadline or two than run the risk of being accused of dishonesty. Even if such an accusation is never issued, dishonesty during college life will likely set a precedent for future professional life. Sooner or later this paradigm will catch up with the person, and the penalty is a lifelong reputation of dishonesty.
When the temptation to cheat then arises, a student should think beyond the immediate future of deadlines and overwhelming amounts of work. Wider issues than time scale is involved here. Cheating could ruin one’s life and future. If deadlines and work become of such a nature that the student sees no way out, it is a better idea to talk to lecturers or counselors, who can work out a plan of action to manage deadlines or establish a new work schedule.
Developing Effective Study Skills
Effective study skills go hand-in-hand with effectively avoiding plagiarism. The distance learning environment of course demands its own set of skills for effective study. Because Axia’s purely online learning environment gives the learner the opportunity to set his or her own class and study schedule, personal responsibility and work ethic are the most important ingredients of cultivating effective study skills. Active reading and listening skills are also important in interacting in the online learning environment. Reading is particularly important, as the material, including online classes, will be presented in online format. For effectively studying the material from these formats, methods such as the SQ3R reading strategy (Kizlik, 2006) can be extremely useful.
The first step in this reading method is “Survey.” This means that the text is scanned for its most prominent information in terms of title, bold type, graphics and captions, along with the first and last paragraph of the piece. These give an overview of the text as a whole and prepares for the reading process. The second step is “Question.” The student ask questions suggested by what has been learned so far about the topic of the passage. The 3 R’s are “Read,” “Recite” and “Review.” The questions arising in the second step are then answered by the reading step. Reciting and reviewing then establish the information in the student’s mind.
Thinking skills are also vital in any University course, and particularly so in the online study environment. Critical thinking skills are developed by questioning. This integrates with the above reading method and will be very useful in developing effective study skills in general.
Managing Time Wisely
Time management is one of the most important issues of online study. As mentioned above, it is extremely important to take responsibility for one’s own studies and improvement. This means careful time management. Dr. Bob Kizlik (2006) estimates a time schedule as the most important component of studying. This is especially true of studies in an online environment.
The first step is then to establish the amount of work needed for success in studying at Axia’s online environment. A weekly amount of hours will then be estimated for the amount of work, including the number of hours needed for attending online classes. These can then be divided into daily increments in such a way to balance effectively with other responsibilities such as family, friends, work and other duties.
In setting such a schedule, it is important to realize that the freedom allowed by Axia’s online study and class environment also comes with responsibility to keep up with the suggested schedule. Part of setting this schedule will also include prioritizing the various activities that need attention. It is therefore important to make the distinction between an important, focused activity, one designed to provide valuable relaxation time, and one that is simply a time waster or procrastinating activity.
To help setting an effective schedule, it may be a good idea to make a categorized list of all activities projected on a weekly basis for the duration of study. A weekly schedule can then be set to integrate study time in such a way that enough relaxation time is included, while also allowing time for other duties such as family and work (Sherry, 1996).
Setting and Achieving Goals
This is also an important step to take before starting studies. Goals, just like ethics, relate to a wider area than just the study environment. Like research, goals can also be established in steps, according to the type of goals that are established. There are three types of goals to focus one: short-term, medium-term, and long-term goals.
In a study environment, short-term goals would refer to attending classes, handing in assignments and studying for tests and other assessments. The study schedule plays the most important role in this type of goal. Furthermore helping to achieve this goal is the sections relating to academic honesty, as well as research and studying skills. Each goal can then be integrated with the time schedule in order to keep it in mind while adhering to the study schedule.
The medium-term goal would be to achieve success in the overall Axia study program.
Medium-term goals are generally fulfilled by a number of short-term goals that are completed successfully.
Long-term goals are the driving force for current action. In the long-term, for example, the Axia student may wish to stand within a specific profession. Success in the short- and medium-term goals is essential for this. In setting long-term goals, it is also important to be as specific as possible. This gives the student a specific aim towards which to work when the schedule and workload become difficult to handle.
It is furthermore also important to write down all the projected goals relating to the study program and beyond. It is a good idea to write these down on or close to the study schedule, so that the student can view all the goals to be aimed for on a daily basis. Setting goals and writing them down in such a way helps the student to remain focused on his/her schedule. This can help with the challenges often inherent in a schedule of studying, work and other duties.
When for example tempted to either give up or breaking the codes of ethics related to Axia’s studying program, reviewing and revisiting goals can help to keep the student focused on what needs to be done to achieve eventual success. Long-term goals can for example be used as a motivation to keep achieving short-term and medium-term goals.
The online studying environment comes with a number of benefits, but also with benefits. Benefits include a flexible schedule that can easily be integrated in family and work duties. Challenges can include the fact that the student has to set his or her own schedule for attending classes and completing work. When used to a strict schedule at high school, the responsibility of keeping up work may be difficult to adhere to. Nevertheless, documents such as a survival guide are excellent tools to combat feelings of hopelessness, fatigue and temptation towards unethical behavior.
Chilimo, W.L., Emmanuel, G. And Lwoga, T.E. (2006) Developing online research strategies. Sokoine University of Agriculture. http://www.itoca.org/TEEAL-AGORATanzania.pdf.
Kizlik, Bob (2006, July 20). How to Study and Make th eMost of Your Time. http://www.adprima.com/studyout.htm
Sherry, L. (1996). Issues in Distance Learning. International Journal of Educational Telecommunications, 1 (4), 337-365. http://carbon.cudenver.edu/~lsherry/pubs/issues.html
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