Organising your studies
Feeling the pressure? You're not alone – we've all been there! Here are some tips to help you keep on top of your studies.
Believe in yourself!
Don't worry if things go wrong.
Build a study support network.
Tips from Juliet Austin, School of Education:
- Remember that your classmates, friends and family are an important part of your study support network! Make sure that they understand your study commitments and talk to them about your goals, so that they can support you to the fullest. Find study buddies and reach out to your friends if your study workload gets too stressful.
- Engage with other students in your unit site discussion, or before and after classes.
- Get in touch with Students Helping Students (SHS) if you have any questions about studying at Deakin.
- Join Deakin clubs and societies to meet other students with similar interests.
I advocate passionate dedication to the pursuit of short-term goals. Be micro-ambitious.
— Tim Minchin
A balancing act
When you begin university it may feel as though there is lot of 'free time' between classes and seminars. While class time makes up very little of your weekly study schedule, you will be expected to devote an average minimum of 10 hours per week of independent study per unit. That's a minimum of 40 hours per week – so be aware that full-time study can be busier than working a full-time job!
Time management is a skill that gets easier with practice.
Short-term goals are essential to effective time management, but thinking about long-term goals can also help you to stay focused and motivated. Ask yourself:
- Why am I at university? What am I passionate about?
- What am I already good at and what do I want to improve?
- Where do I want to be when I complete my degree?
- What are my overall goals?
Time management tips
- While students spend on average around 10 hours study per unit per week, this will vary though and there is no simple answer to the question 'how much time should I spend studying each week?' - but be aware that each unit is a significant commitment. You will need to plan your trimester, your week, and even a daily to-do list can be useful to complete tasks.
- It's important when managing your study time to take commitments outside of university into account. Plan your overall workload commitment before the trimester begins.
- Plan your trimester from Week 1. Fill out your due dates in a Trimester Planner. Your might want to set yourself your own dates to complete drafts and other tasks too.
- Think about when and where you study most effectively. Develop a routine that works for you.
- Most importantly, take care of yourself. Take breaks, and give yourself regular breaks from the screen too.
- Need any further tips? Get in touch a with a Language and Learning Adviser or a student Writing Mentor.
Your study space
Five tips for your study space
- A clear desk = a clear mind!
This is a challenge for many of us, but it is worthwhile to occasionally clear your desk and only have in front of you what you need for the task you are currently working on.
- A regular space
It sometimes helps to have a regular study space (and also to know when the quiet times will be!). If you need quiet time and can’t find it at home, study at your Deakin Library, or a designated study space.
- Collaborate online
If you prefer to study on campus, or out and about, use your MS Teams or Zoom to chat with classmates, and your Office 365 and OneDrive to work and collaborate on documents. One Drive, Office 365, Outlook Calendar, Teams and Zoom can be accessed via the Tools & software menu in DeakinSync.
- Spend some time offline
If you get easily distracted by the internet (and who doesn’t?!), turn off your mobile and WiFi, and study for a period of time without it. You can use this time to read books or articles that you have downloaded or printed. It can be challenging to spend time offline, but it may surprise you how much it improves your focus and attention. If you really struggle with online distractions, try a web time tracker app – these are designed to limit your access to particular sites at particular times of the day.
Only you know where, when and how you study best – experiment with where and how you study, and reflect on what works best for you.
To make the most of your learning and gain the full value of your unit, you should attend all classes and seminars including those scheduled online. If you have to miss a class, talk to your tutor and classmates about what you may have missed, and access the class recording, if available.
Taking part in seminar discussions is also a very important part of your learning and will help you to better understand your course content and engage with your assessments.
For each unit you are enrolled in, you are also enrolled in a unit site – accessible via DeakinSync.
In your unit site, under 'Resources', you will find two items that contain essential information about the unit you are studying: the Unit guide and Assessment information.
The unit guide includes:
- unit aims
- learning outcomes (what students should know/be able to do on completion of the unit)
- name of the unit chair and staff contact details
- weekly topics – a 'roadmap' of classes and seminars
- materials for the unit (some unit guides only)
- assessment details (how many marks each assignment is worth, due dates, etc.)
- information on referencing.
We recommend downloading, or even printing, your unit guide, so that you can regularly refer to these details. It is also a good idea to print any further assessment information that is uploaded to your unit site, and put it up somewhere near your desk so that each time you sit down to study, you are aware of the specific details of your assessments.
In your unit site, under 'Resources', you will also find other learning resources, for example, readings, class slides and recordings, and (in some units) links to quizzes or online tests.
You need to visit your unit site more than once a week to check if your lecturer has posted any news, new assessment information, or any new readings.
If you have any questions about a unit, post it to the discussion forum in the unit site so that all students can benefit from the lecturer’s response. Similarly, you might find the answer to one of your questions that another student has already asked.
Keeping your readings, notes, assignment documents and web bookmarks in order is an essential part of good study practice.
There is no one way do this, but here are a few suggestions:
- For hard copy notes and print-outs, keep them in separate binders for each unit.
- Organise your notes according to the unit’s weekly topics – this will make them easier to find. It is a good idea to organise your own thoughts along the lines of these weekly topics, because this structure informs your assessments.
- Use sticky notes or coloured flags to mark important places in books, articles and print-outs.
Digital file management
Carefully labelling and managing files will save you a lot of stress later on! Here is just one suggestion for how you might organise your folders and files.
- Create a folder for each trimester and a subfolder for each unit, e.g. SLE105
- Create further sub-folders within each unit, e.g. Readings, Notes, Assignments, etc.
- Under ‘Readings’ you can put copies of your lecturer’s PowerPoints and unit readings, as well as any other relevant readings you find.
- Under ‘Notes’, keep your own notes taken from classes, seminars, and also from readings. Try typing up any handwritten notes, so that you have everything in one place. Re-writing or typing also helps you to remember and recall information.
- Under ‘Assignments you can put plans, drafts and final copies of your assignments. Saving new copies of each draft is a good idea in case a file gets lost or is corrupted. Include information about the unit and the assessment in the file name, e.g. SLE105 Assessment 1_draft3
- Finally, ALWAYS make a back-up copy of your assignment (and drafts)! You can save your files to your free Deakin OneDrive account – access via your DeakinSync login.
Don’t go searching for that same website again and again! There are a number of ways to bookmark websites:
- Use the bookmark feature on your preferred web browser.
- Use a free bookmarking app such as Delicious, Evernote or Diigo to access your bookmarks on any device.
- Favourite your most-used Deakin webpages via your DeakinSync login.
- In your unit site you can also bookmark sections of the unit site for easy access. Find Bookmarks under 'Resources'.