ST37 – Promoting students’ academic study skills – a flexible online course model

Presentation
ROOM C – MONDAY 15:30-16:30

Niina Räsänen

Student and Learning Services, University of Eastern Finland, Finland

Ms. Niina Räsänen works as a coordinator at the University of Eastern Finland. Among other duties she develops and coordinates academic study skills courses for the students. She also deals with the student tutor education and the orientation for the student starting their academic studies.

Summary

To promote students’ studying ability and to provide teaching equally on and off the campuses we have created an adaptable academic study skills course model. The lectures of this diverse course are broadcasted online and the course assignments are done in the online learning environment. The feedback has been encouraging.

Abstract

The University of Eastern Finland (UEF) is one of the largest in Finland with 15,000 degree students at three campuses located triangular approximately 150 kilometres away from each other. The well-being of students is one of the primary concerns of the university. UEF and the Student and Learning Services provide students a modern and constantly developing studying environment.

In order to improve student’s study skills and to provide teaching equally both on and off the campuses we have created a flexible online course model. The course Academic Study Skills prepares students for their new phase of live at the university and offers an induction to academic studying. The course is for 2 ECTS credits and it consists of lectures and learning assignments. The course is evaluated as pass/fail and credited after the students have completed the required assignments.

The Academic Study Skills course introduces different studying techniques such as academic reading and writing and basic studying skills like participating in the lectures, taking notes and preparing for the exams. The course gives an overview of the technical/online studying environment and ethical studying at the academic community. Students also learn about study planning, stress management and reflecting their own learning.

The optional lectures are broadcasted online during the late afternoons and therefore should not overlap that much with other studies. To access the online lectures students need only an internet connection, loudspeakers and/or headset. Lectures can be also viewed afterwards as recordings. Some of the lectures can also be participated at the campuses in the class rooms. These arrangements make it flexible to participate in the teaching. Students can take part in the lectures with the online chat. The teachers are advised to activate students with different kinds of online student orientated methods (chat conversations, questions, votes).

The learning assignments in the online learning environment play an important role in students’ learning. The assignments involve both individual work and group effort. Diverse assignment types, for example interviews, online conversations and learning by doing -method have been used to promote the learning outcomes. The course supports also the students own field of study. The students are expected to visit their departments and get to know the facilities. Students are also obliged test a new studying method suitable for their studies and to practice study scheduling. The students get feedback on their personal and group assignments during the course. The course tutors from different fields of study are responsible for this written feedback.

The course feedback from the students has been encouraging. The feedback indicates that the course has enhanced the students’ academic study skills. It seems that preparing for the exams and stress management will be among the most popular and useful aims in the year 2014. The students have considered the course to be useful and supportive at the beginning of their study path. According to the feedback the studying atmosphere of the course has been supportive and students’ understanding of the course subjects have increased during the course.

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