The ABC of Finding Information
Classes and Attendance
Assesment and Feedback
The Right Study Attitude
When we start our studies, all of us already have different kinds of study skills. Our motivation springs from different sources, as does our general attitude to our studies. Nevertheless, regardless of where we are coming from, we need to take many things into consideration in our studies. Study success requires clear objectives, motivation, planning, self discipline, self confidence, good study habits and a positive attitude. Being physically fit is also helpful. Now that’s quite a list!
It is relevant here to ask if motivation and the ability to make plans and set objectives are inborn traits? And what about good reading and study habits, a positive attitude and physical fitness? How self confident were we when we were born? Indeed, we must assume that we are not born with the above. These are not inborn traits; we have learned and developed them and many others through the course of our lives. (Ringom 1994.)
As a student, you are given an excellent opportunity to develop not just your study skills, but also many other skills useful in life. These skills will help you to succeed in challenging tasks after graduation.
We hope that the following pages will help you to reflect upon your own study skills and habits. The discussion proceeds on a rather general level. Should some topics raise your interest, however, we encourage you to dig deeper, for example by familiarising yourself with the reference literature provided at the end of this guide. You can also find lots of study tips on the net.
According to Entwistle and Ramsden (1983), one’s study orientation refers to both one's study outlook and well as one's studies in practice. Study orientation can be classified into four basic types (Lonka 1996):
SHALLOW ORIENTATION is characterised by learning by memorisation at the expense of understanding. The student who adopts this orientation often simply aims to pass rather than to genuinely learn new things. He or she pays excess attention to detail and external formalities, and routinely simply does what he or she is told. The student may answer exam questions correctly, but nevertheless an overall picture is missing. This type of study orientation generally correlates with poor or at most mediocre performance.
DEEP ORIENTATION involves a genuine motivation to understand what is studied. Students who adopt this orientation have an easier time learning both the detail and the big picture because the topics studied are placed in a meaningful context. A deep orientation fosters interest in conclusions and how they are made. Motivation is driven more by an interest in the topic, and less by performance as such. Exam answers describe, assess and are critical. In addition, the student shows that he or she has understood the big picture, and may illuminate upon this by means of examples. Students that have a deep orientation generally also enjoy their studies.
SOCIAL ORIENTATION is characterised by high interest in the social aspect of studies, rather than studies as such. A strong social orientation often also correlates with poor study success. On the other hand, it should be remembered friendships made during one’s studies can be infinitely rewarding!
PERFORMANCE ORIENTATION involves a systematic and structured approach to achieve set objectives. Students with a strong performance based orientation are able to tactically change their orientation from shallow to deep, for example, depending on how teachers reward performance.
Students with this kind of orientation plan their studies well, set timetables and develop successful study strategies. A deep performance based orientation combined with independence and a positive attitude are traits that lead to study success. A performance orientation is a skill that you can develop throughout your studies. (Cf. Lindblom-Ylänne, Nevgi and Kaivola 2003).
We encourage you to reflect upon your study orientation at various stages of your studies. In what ways are your study habits successful? What should be done differently?
We encourage you also to learn more from the literature on good study habits, e.g. Lindblom-Ylänne (2001).
Independent information retrieval as well as its processing and critical evaluation are an integral part of your studies. It is important that you learn to identify when and what kind of information is needed, as well as from where to seek this information. An information literate student will consider that information retrieval and utilisation skills are a fundamental aspect of his or her expertise also after graduation. Haaga-Helia’s library and information services actively promote the information literacy of students. They offer students both printed and electronic information sources, and also provide information retrieval training.
Each Haaga-Helia unit has a library
Each unit library mainly stocks literature on the topics studied in the unit. However, students have the right to borrow materials from all the unit libraries. There is a mail service between the libraries, which allows students to order materials from other units and check them out from their own unit library. You can get your own library card by presenting an ID card with your photo and social security number.
Haaga-Helia library materials, such as books and magazines, can be browsed through the HH Finna database, from where you can check the location of the material and availability. You can also check the status of your loans and also make loan extensions through the same address. The online library is open 24-hours-a-day.
The Haaga-Helia libraries offer students access to numerous different kinds of electronic information sources, which can also be accessed remotely via the net. The electronic collection includes e-zines, e-books, news archives, market research studies, dictionaries, statistical information and more. To access these materials, follow the links on the library's web site.
You may sometimes feel overwhelmed by exam literature or pending projects if you don’t have the right reading and study habits. Indeed, as a university student, it is probable that you need to constantly develop these skills.
Reading is integral to your studies. Reading scientific texts is very different from leisure time reading. Scientific books and articles are written in a professional language specific to the field, and it is therefore important that you become well versed in the terminology and jargon of your field of study. This will allow you to thoroughly understand what is discussed.
Even though field specific terminology may at first seem difficult, it is absolutely necessary that you make the effort. It is true that field specific jargon is often difficult to understand. Don’t let this hinder your learning experience, but rather actively seek answers by active information search. Consult your teachers and seek answers from other sources!
If it feels difficult to start a thick book on the first page, why not start elsewhere, for example the last chapter? Once you’ve whet your appetite, you’ll soon be interested in the full course! You can even try moving from the end to the beginning if this feels like a good strategy. (Ringom 1994.)
The following five-step technique is useful for reading both books and articles. Try it and feel the difference!
Five steps to better reading
- START INTELLIGENTLY
It’s best to start by browsing through the table of contents and headings. While doing this, think about:
• How important the material is to you: very important, important, or not so important?
• What kind of background knowledge do you have on the topic? A lot, some, not at all?
• What do you want to learn? Check the requirements in the course description and think about your own needs. Look for information that is relevant to your objectives.
- BROWSE THROUGH THE BOOK
Instead of reading the text proper, pay attention to the headings, highlights, images, charts, models, examples, exercises etc. At the same time, take notes, e.g. by means of a mind map. Jot down important facts and headings. This kind of a review provides information on the book’s objectives and main arguments, i.e. with "hooks” on which to hang information.
- READ THE TEXT
Take notes at the same time, or, if the book is your own, highlight key points with a magic marker or by underlining. Don’t underline several words in a row, but rather seek key concepts and thoughts. On the first reading, it’s not good practice to stop for long to think about things you don’t understand; it’s better to just mark unclear passages and then return to them later. Once you have a good general understanding of the text, it is most likely that what was at first unclear is no longer so.
- READ THE TEXT A SUFFICIENT NUMBER OF TIMES
If the material is especially hard, read it several times. It is possible that your chosen key words will change quite a bit because you have a much greater understanding of the text with each new reading.
If you still don’t understand a passage, stop to reflect. Consider whether the information is relevant to your own needs, or with regard to the book's main lines of thought. Consult a dictionary, the net, reference literature, or even the teacher or other students. Try also the phone. Discussing the matter for a few minutes might help you get ahead. If things still seem unclear, continue reading and taking notes, and make a note that the passage is still unclear.
- REVIEW KEY TERMS
Reviewing key terms should take about 10 minutes, and has the objective of ensuring the quality of your reading and note taking. It’s good to do such a review right after you stop reading.
Review the key words (e.g. in your mind map) and try to recall key information packed behind each term. If you are not successful, pick up the book and go through the relevant material one more time. Also seek new key words and deepen your grasp of existing ones by means of images, arrows, symbols or numbers. In general, the more images you have, the better you will remember. (Ringom 1994)
Writing and written assignments are a part of just about any course. Before you start to write, you will most likely have to read a lot in order to gain a general understanding of your topic. The process involves a lot of discussion with the text and in this way engages your reflective faculty. Information search, processing and analysis always take place before the completion of written assignments. This is done either individually or in groups.
Writing during your studies has at least two objectives. On the one hand, it is used to assess your learning and, indeed, you are expected to be able to complete various kinds of written assignments with success. On the other hand, writing is a way of learning. Writing allows you to gain deeper and more exact knowledge of a topic than that provided by reading and listening alone. Indeed, writing might very well be the most challenging and demanding aspect of your studies.
The writing process
- GENERAL REVIEW
After you have your topic, let it digest for a few days or even longer. Think about your headline from different points of view and jot down notes on possible themes and associations raised by the topic. During this process, you will start to have a feeling for the scope of the text.
- GATHERING INFORMATION
Recall what you have already learned about the topic. Search for information from the net and the library, for example by following the trail of key terms. Take note of interesting ways to approach the topic. Make use of the library’s website.
- PUTTING YOUR IDEAS DOWN ON PAPER
At this point your ideas don’t need to be correctly formulated or expressed. Rather, just use “stream of consciousness” to jot down your ideas. You can, for example, make arguments for or against, or raise questions. The aim is to make a list of as many ideas as possible. This stage helps you to get over the problem of not being able to produce any text no matter how hard you try. You don’t even have to write complete sentences. It’s enough to get your ideas down on paper.
- ORGANISING THE MATERIAL
Reflect upon the results of your stream of consciousness in relation to the assignment and topic, and start to organise the material around some theme. The aim is to come up with a tentative structure for your text, and also to discard ideas that are not relevant. Generally, it’s best to keep the organisation simple.
- WRITING THE FIRST DRAFT
How to express your ideas so that the reader will understand? It’s good to write as if you were having a conversation with the reader. Use complete sentences and liven up your text with examples. A good practice is to raise questions and illuminate upon the topic from different perspectives. The benefits of good preparation will become apparent at this stage at the latest. Remember that if you try to collect information and think about the style and content at the same time, it is very probable that you will not succeed with either the style or the content. It will be difficult to get a proper flow, with the text proceeding smoothly from start to finish. Sometimes it’s best to start from the easiest or most crucial part, and then work through the more difficult parts at a later stage.
- ASSESSMENT OF RESULTS
Read through your text from time to time by taking the reader’s point of view. You can also ask a fellow student or someone at your workplace to read and comment on your text while it is still in progress. Early feedback will improve the end result considerably! It is also good to set the text aside for a couple of days in order to get a fresh perspective on it. Reserve also time for editing on the basis of comments given. When reviewing your text, it’s good to pay attention to the following points:
• Are your sentences easy to understand? Does the text have a nice flow and does it make sense? Is the paragraph division sensible?
• From the perspective of the general reader, does the text clarify things sufficiently and are enough examples given? Are the headings in line with the content?
Read your text aloud. If this seems difficult, e.g. that you have to stop mid-sentence and start again, the sentence may be too long or not logical.
- WRITING THE FINAL VERSION
This is when you check the grammar and finalise the text. (Lindberg 1998.)
As a general rule, it is good to take notes both in class and at home while reading. Note taking clarifies your thoughts and encourages deeper thinking about the topic. You can also review your notes at a later date. Research shows that the most successful students have a command of several note taking techniques and can switch between them depending on the situation. (Lindblom-Ylänne et al. 2001.)
We strongly recommend that you develop your note taking skills throughout your studies: for example, lists, images and charts are often useful. (Vakkuri 1998; Lindberg 1998.) Mind maps are definitely worth the effort. They allow you to organise information on different levels and add new information when required, e.g. by adding your own ideas or associations. Mind maps offer a very good way to build associations, e.g. by combining words and concepts, or via colouring and spacing. (Buzan 2000.)
Try also the following: Exchange notes in pairs or small groups. Then discuss what each person has written and how. Going through the notes of others will provide you with many tips on how to improve upon your skills with regard to both content and technique. This also offers the opportunity to review matters that remain unclear. It may very well be that you are not the only one who does not fully understand. It is then easier to ask the teacher during the next class, as you don't have to worry about asking "stupid questions". But please keep in mind that there is no such thing as a stupid question, only different ways of reacting to what is asked.
It is also good practice to use your notes to try to explain what was covered during class to another person. Guess why?
Writing at Haaga-Helia
In companies, things are generally written down on company-specific forms, either on paper or electronic. This ensures that the company’s correspondence and other communication adheres to the same format. The result is the communication of a uniform “brand” or “image” to the company’s target groups.
At Haaga-Helia texts are written in accordance with Haaga-Helia’s own guidelines. This eases both the student’s and the teacher’s task: Neither has to spend time thinking about what should be the proper format; both can focus on the content. The content, however, will vary depending on who you write for and what you aim to accomplish.
During your studies, you will be required to write many different kinds of texts, e.g. essays, memos, reports as well as your thesis. All these texts are to follow the given Haaga-Helia format. If you learn and follow the guidelines given from the start of your studies onwards, there will be no need to backtrack before every assignment to try to figure out what the text should look like. Remember also that you must include your student number in all assignments that are to be graded.
All reports, seminar papers, instruction manuals, software documentation as well as other assignments are to be written in standard English using the terminology of the field in question. The format is to be either standard or follow the instructions given. Written assignments must always indicate sources used, and a bibliography must always be included.
It is important that you learn to adhere to the guidelines already at the start of your studies. Then, once you start working on your thesis, following the right practices should no longer be an issue.
In an ESSAY, the writer reflects upon a specific topic. The essay can be subjective, in which case the writer expresses his or her own thoughts on the topic: e.g. by providing criticism, by offering comments, or by creating associations. If the writer chooses an investigative approach, the essay will be akin to a scientific article. Such an essay clearly expresses the underlying idea, and also includes detailed reference to sources. Exam answers are often in essay format. In such cases, you are expected to provide the relevant information and usually also your own thoughts on the matter.
The MEMORANDUM is a summary of the notes of a meeting or similar. As implicit in the name, a memorandum is compiled to support your memory, for example after a meeting or brainstorming session. If a meeting is involved, the memorandum should shortly list what was agreed, and who is responsible for what and when. You will need to compile memorandums if you are active in the student unions.
The LEARNING DIARY is for reviewing what you have learned. You can organise your diary chronologically or by topic, for example.
The PORTFOLIO showcases your achievements. You can organise your portfolio by courses taken or by topic, for example.
The SUMMARY is a clear and concise review of the key points on a given topic. The summary can be based on an oral or written presentation, and itself can also be oral or written. You can present your own point of view in a summary. If you do this, you must nevertheless indicate what your opinion is and what you have gathered from other sources.
The ABSTRACT is usually a short summary of your own text, focusing on the explanation of key points. The abstract can be written either informatively or to raise the reader's interest in the text proper. Nevertheless, the abstract should give a good general picture of the content of the text. The abstract is placed in the beginning of your thesis and other larger reports.
The REPORT can be a review of research, of a journey, of one's participation in a course or other assignment. The report can also be a review written at regular intervals, for example a weekly report or monthly report. In addition, the report can provide information on how to develop operations, be used as a basis for decision making, or, more generally, to provide information on a given topic. At Haaga-Helia, you are usually required to write a report whenever you participate in a project. For more info on written reports, please check the guidelines (Student's extranet).
Communication skills are very much valued in today’s working life. In your future job it is important that you can express yourself well, i.e. inspiringly, convincingly and professionally. You will have the chance to orally present your written work many times during your studies, providing you with good practice on your presentation skills. Oral presentations communicate information, experiences, opinions and thoughts – and are an integral part of your studies.
When preparing for an oral presentation, it is good to think about:
- How much time has been reserved for the presentation? What is the forum like?
- What do you want to say, i.e. what is your objective? “The teacher ordered me to do this” is not a reasonable or challenging objective!
- What is the audience expecting; how will they benefit from your presentation?
- Think about a) how you will raise interest b) how you can communicate your message as understandably as possible and c) how you will satisfy the audience's need for information.
- Organise the contents a) by choosing a fresh perspective b) by limiting the scope of the presentation to what is most important and interesting c) by building a logical flow to the presentation and d) by providing a review of key points.
- Liven up your presentation with examples, comparisons and analogies.
- Presentation skills are learned only with practice. Therefore make full use every opportunity to do so!
Remember that most people are nervous when giving presentations even though they might not show this on the outside. The audience is generally on your side, they don’t want to see you fail. Remember also to listen to the presentations of others with proper respect. If you find that giving oral presentations is especially hard for you, please discuss the matter with the academic advisor. It’s better to seek a solution together.
Use of audio visual equipment
DOMUMENT CAMERA: It functions like an overhead projector, except you don't have to write on transparencies, you can use normal paper. Use clearly visible colours and font size (min size 24). A larger auditorium requires an even larger font. Don’t keep the document camera switched on unnecessarily during your presentation.
POWERPOINT PRESENTATION: Don't write too much text on one slide. Rise interest of the audience by using pictures. Use videos only if needed. Use at most 20 slides per hour. Check how your presentation looks like in advance. Don't forget your USB flash drive to the class room.
FLIP CHART: Write and draw so that the audience can see clearly. Use different colours to separate topics. Make sure that there is flip chart paper and pens in the class room in advance. You can ask more from the IT HelpDesk.
Find more AV instructions here
Working in teams and groups is increasingly a part of today’s working life. Studying at Haaga-Helia, too, involves a lot of group projects and other assignments.
Successful cooperation has many prerequisites, for example trust among participants, openness and listening to others, as well as taking into account other group members. Moreover successful group work requires not only that the group reaches its information objectives, but also that it is successful in its decision making, problem solving, interaction and management.
It cannot be taken for granted, however, that everyone has the proper cooperation skills. It is very common that problem situations arise. In this regard, it is important that group members learn to solve their problems in a constructive manner. Please make an active effort to develop these skills during your studies. Don’t hesitate to ask for help in this area if you feel you need to do so, e.g. from your teacher, academic advisor or school nurse.
Contact hours play an important role in your studies. For example, they allow you to gain a deeper understanding of the course textbooks and the opportunity to engage in group work and discussions with other students.
Teachers, too, do a lot of things in class. For example, they present new perspectives and research findings, teach argumentation skills, discuss the topics studied in more detail, as well as tell about their own experiences. Indeed, the classroom is an excellent place for students to sharpen up their thinking, and active participation ensures the best results. Successful teaching is successful interaction between the teacher and students. (Lindberg 1998; Lindblom-Ylänne, Repo-Kaarento and Nevgi 2003.)
It is important that you attend class as much as possible! Remember also that many courses have a minimum attendance requirement, which you will be informed about at the start of the course.
Haaga-Helia offers many online study opportunities. Many courses are completed either wholly or partly over the net. Courses provided wholly over the net usually cover the material studied, various exercises, online discussions as well as guided work individually and/or in groups. The exam might be completed over the net or during a separate exam occasion.
Moodle virtual learning environment is mainly being used in online courses at Haaga-Helia, but also other digital environments are utilized. Students get guidance for these at the start of their studies. Remember, however, that you need to have basic computer skills and access to an Internet connection to complete such courses. Some systems require a headset with microphone and web camera (not compulsory). If any special software is needed for an online course, notification of this will be given in the course description. Signing up for online courses is done in the same way as for all other courses, i.e. over WinhaWille.
Online courses offer you the opportunity to study without constraints of time or place. Remember, however, that the courses have their own timetables: start and completion dates, deadlines for assignments, and preset times for online discussions. Successful completion of online courses requires independence, planning, time management, media literacy, interaction skills, and taking responsibility for one's own learning results.
Students are expected to study actively from the start of the course onwards and complete assignments on time in order to ensure that learning takes place throughout the course. Information on the exam/s is provided during the first lesson. The final exam is usually taken during the last week of class. At some study modules it's possible to take an electronic exam in a separate electronic examination facility. See more information electronic exam.
- Plan your course load in such a way that there is room for flexibility. Start reading on time. Reading a 200 page book can easily take up to 10 days, if you read 2-3 hours a day.
- Try to get a good overall picture of the materials covered for the exam and organise your materials by topic.
- Take notes, e.g. using a mind map.
- Discuss the exam topic/s with others. Try to explain difficult concepts to a friend. By teaching others you learn yourself!
- Think about the exam technicalities in advance: exam date, place, duration, materials needed, maximum time that you are allowed to be late and the earliest time that you can hand in your paper, how many questions you are required to answer, the types of questions that will be asked. Ensure that you have a good pencil, eraser and calculator with you. Answer sheets will be provided.
- Be prepared to prove your identity during the exam!
- As a new student, even though you may feel that you did not prepare well enough in advance, we recommend that you still take the exam. The exam experience will allow you to better anticipate future situations and to learn to do away with unnecessary stress.
- Read the exam questions carefully a couple of times.
- Estimate how much time you need to answer each question. Even though the questions may seem difficult, don’t give up. On an extra sheet make some quick notes on the topics and concepts that relate to the questions. After an initial uncertainty and nervousness, you will most likely start to recall more of what you learned.
- Make a brief sketch of your answers and start writing. If you get stuck with one question, move on to the next and return to the difficult one later. Start with the easiest questions!
- Write as legibly as possible and use standard English.
- Write your name on every answer sheet. (Lindberg 1998; Pintrich et al. 1991, Laurila 1999.)
- Remember that you must also write down your student number on all graded work.
Signing up for exams
You don’t have to sign up separately for final exams, except the exam is taken on Tenttis as an electronic exam. For retakes follow the guidelines provided (Student's extranet).
You can retake interim or final exams two times during two retake dates that will be notified at the start of each course. You can sign up for a retake whether you failed or passed a course. If you retake the exam for a course that you passed, the better grade will be registered. Raising your grade will no longer be possible after you have completed your degree.
Any incomplete work must be handed in no later than one month after the end of a course, unless otherwise agreed upon with the teacher. If an assignment remains outstanding after this date, you must start the course again from the beginning and all previously completed work is nullified. A student that is not enrolled as present for the semester/academic year cannot take retakes or hand in incomplete work during the period of non-enrolment.
Teachers are obligated to notify students of exam results within three weeks after the exam. The school files any written work that is handed in for a six month period after the grade has been given.
Retakes are organised by unit. The units inform in advance which exams can be retaken during each retake date. You can take two exams during each exam occasion, the other of which can be your maturity examination. The exam duration can be determined by the teacher, which will then be marked on the exam envelope. You can take material specified by the teacher to the exam, e.g. dictionaries, calculators or other material indicated by the teacher in the exam envelope.
Signing up for a retake means you are committed to take the exam. If you fail to show up, you will still be considered to have taken the exam, and as such lose one retake opportunity. Remember that you must always prove your identity and leave the exam envelope with the exam supervisor.
Degree regulations on retakes (7 §).
Cheating is always punishable. The actions taken (for example due to cheating in an exam, the copying of an assignment from another student, plagiarism from a source that is not disclosed, or other offense) might be the nullification of the exam or assignment in question, the issue of a written warning by the president of the school, or a temporary expulsion, which is decided upon by the school’s Board (Act on Polytechnic Studies, Chapter 38). All work is nullified for the course, and the student must start the course again from the beginning. Cases of cheating are always recorded in the student's study register.
Act on Studies at Universities of Applied Sciences (932/2014), Section 38:
A student who has cheated at a university of applied sciences or has otherwise breached the rules of the university may, depending on the severity of the offence, be issued with a warning or be temporarily expelled from the university, for a maximum of one year. Before a final decision is reached, the student has the right to be heard on the matter. Any warning issued to the student is decided upon by the university’s president, and any temporary expulsion is decided upon by the university’s Board.
University studies involve many different kinds of assessments. Teachers assess the performance of students, while students assess the actions of teachers and the university as a whole. Active development of your own self-assessment skills during your studies will prove useful after graduation. Indeed, learning to be constructive in evaluation/assessment activities, whether receiving or giving feedback, is something we need to practice throughout our lives.
Students are graded on the scale 1-5 or on a pass/fail basis. The grades are recorded in the WinhaPro student administration system.
Course assessment criteria are likewise provided on our website, under course descriptions. The regulations governing assessment are given below under norms to be observed.
We strongly recommend that you keep a list of your own study completions, even if they are partial completions. This is especially important, for example, if you decide to complete an incomplete course at a later date, as it is important to determine what you have previously completed and for whom. Not all partial completions are registered in WinhaWille. We also recommend that you review your grades, especially if your grade is clearly not what was expected. It is generally good to get in touch with your teacher during the teacher consultation hours to discuss your grade, for example if a separate review of grades has not been organised.
Remember that a performance orientation (see above study orientation) involves a systematic and structured approach to achieve set objectives. By developing your self-assessment skills, you will be able to better plan your studies better, set timetables and develop good study strategies. In addition, you will become more comfortable with working independently and more easily adopt a deep orientation to the task at hand.
Evaluation of the university’s operations
We need feedback to better develop our university's activities. Course feedback is the most important channel. This is where you can let us know of what was good in the course, what was poor, and let the teacher know your suggestions for further development. Course feedback is also sent to the university administration and students are informed of key points.
Haaga-Helia units also organise occasions during which student representatives meet with teachers for a general performance review.
Every third year students can reply to the general student survey gathering information e.g. of students’ well-being. Upon graduation students are requested to complete both a graduation survey by Haaga-Helia and AVOP survey by Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture, covering the entire study period. Later, after 1–2 of graduation, Haaga-Helia alumni are approached by a survey where there is an opportunity to evaluate the correspondence between studies and working-life requirements.
Former students also supply us with feedback as to how well their studies prepared them for working life. We actively promote an open environment at our university, and for this reason all feedback is welcome. In addition, we also strive to develop our feedback system all the time. We strongly recommend that you contact teachers or staff to discuss any problems when are still fresh. A great study environment does not arise on its own – it requires everyone’s input. More information. about Haaga-Helia's evaluation systems and feedback systems.
As a student you have an excellent opportunity to develop your time management skills, and to simply learn to say “no” to a world of requests and invitations. What does Haaga-Helia’s career advisor, who is also an expert in time management, have to say about this? “The main time management problems encountered by students are leaving things to the last minute and having the feeling that there simply are not enough hours in a day."
A few examples from students:
“I have a very bad habit of leaving things to the last minute, especially things that seem troublesome or tedious.”
“I should get more sleep during weekdays, but it is sometimes hard because of all my commitments – work, school, homework, hobbies and social life. I truly wish that there would be 26 hours in a day."
From procrastination to taking the bull by the horns
Learning to get things done is less a matter of self-discipline and more about increasing motivation. Think about how you can motivate yourself to get even tedious jobs done on time. Try this: Set yourself a clear objective, divide the assignments into parts, set a deadline for them, and shut out all interference (yes, you can switch off your mobile, radio, TV and even Internet connection). Promise yourself a nice reward. Act.
Sufficient planning and learning not to take on too much
You will have enough time to take care of the most important things as long as you make a flexible weekly schedule in your calendar. Reserve sufficient time in advance for the most pressing deadlines. Also remember to leave at least 20 percent of your calendar free for surprises or if you need more time. For exams, divide your reading into blocks.
Moderation is the key
It’s good to be selfish in a healthy way and to sometimes simply to say no. This might involve temporarily forgoing some hobby or obligation. And it’s best to reserve one day each week for relaxation: a calm atmosphere, sufficient rest, and no pressing engagements do a world of good.
Sometimes study problems hinge on your attitude. Our attitudes and thoughts make up reality as we perceive it, and it is good to sometimes stop and reflect upon them. For example, you might want to test what associations are raised by the adjectives given below.
Jot down on paper what the following adjectives mean to you, and which subject/s you associate with which adjective. 1. tedious 2. difficult 3. boring 4. exciting 5. interesting.
The adjectives tedious, difficult and boring are negative, passive and non-motivating. Do you associate these adjectives with subjects in which you have poor knowledge, bad experiences or lousy grades? And do you find subjects that you know well and in which you have good experiences to be exciting and interesting?
We often blame the teacher, the materials or the course organisation if we are not succeeding. True, they may be at fault, but then it is best to discuss the matter with the persons involved. Before blaming someone or something, however, it is best to first reflect upon the matter and try to determine how you yourself can have an impact on the situation. And the answer just might be in your own attitude – and that's definitely something you can change! There’s an old saying that a one’s attitude is one’s best friend or worst enemy.
If, instead of labelling something as “boring” or “difficult”, you decide to adopt a more favourable attitude towards the subject, most likely you will then start to understand it better than you think, with the result that boring transforms into interesting and difficult into challenging. (Ringom 1994)
When you participate actively in class you are also preparing for the exam, and also gain valuable tips for project work and other assignments. It is good to ask a lot of questions and also to question things in a constructive manner. If you are absent for some reason, remember to ask your classmates what was done and discussed. Ask them to clarify what remains unclear – this helps them to learn at the same time. Attending class has its benefits.
It’s normal that things don't always go well during your studies. If you fail an exam, you just have to live and learn: what will I do better next time around?
Avoiding difficult subjects is bad strategy. Be especially active in courses that seem difficult or unclear. Be bold and ask questions. Most likely you’ll be doing a favour also to other students, as it is probable that you are not the only one who doesn't understand. “If I don’t know something and ask, I remain ignorant for only a moment. If I don’t ask, I will remain ignorant also in the future.”
Sometimes you might lose your study motivation. That’s quite normal too – and then it is good to go at it one step at a time. Once those course completions start piling up, it will once again be easier to get motivated for the final push. And always remember that employers like to hire graduates, not someone who has dropped out.
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