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.
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.
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.
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.