On Study Skills and Examination

Another useful video by Dr Stephen Chew on study skills and examination.

Examinations could be highly effectively in mass assessing students of Higher Education in an objective way.  Most of us (as educators) have gone through the examination processes in Universities and Colleges.  Indeed examinations could be critical in determining the grades of students in a College or University degree, and such practice might not change in the foreseeable future.

Examinations are still useful for undergraduate and graduate studies up to PhDs, or even professional association admission or accreditation.  So it is important to learn those examination skills, in order to achieve good results and meet the goals.

Examinations are, however summative assessment tool and there are little that the learners could do to change the results of the examination, unless there are feedback to the learners on where they are fallen short of, in terms of their “mistakes” or “wrong answers” so they could correct.  

Whilst examinations are still important tool in assessing students in Higher Education, there is now a trend towards using various combination of formative and summative assessments – authentic or real life assessment tasks, problem based assignments, workplace projects, and workplace based assessment as a more holistic educational tool in the assessment process, apart from the formal examinations.

In my post here, I share the following:

If assessment is so important in formal education, why do people still prefer to adopt the instrumental teaching based principally on mass lecture, tests and examination rather than assessment as an effective pedagogy?  Take a test or examination, and if you could pass it, you are qualified for a pass of the unit.  Isn’t it simple?

Some of us might have watched this video.

So, a lot of students would ask a basic question: Are the lecture materials delivered by the teacher during the lesson to be tested in the tests and  examinations? If not, could we focus just on what is to be tested or examined, and leave the rest to be “learnt” outside the classroom?  This is exactly the type of questions most students are asking in each semester, in a traditional lecture type of education and learning. Is that what the educators are most concerned too?  Teaching the content of examination or test to the students, so students could achieve high marks in the assessments. So, why not teaching to the test?

A test and or examination is a typical assessment tool used in education for decades. That’s where students could demonstrate their competency, and that is how assessment is conducted in most schools.  And if students are learning in online distance education, then they would be expected to submit the standard assignments (say completing a 2,000 words essay or answering a series of questions as required in the problem or project set), attend the examination, and if they pass in both assessment, congratulations!

Doing assessment requires more than the mere completion of the written assignments.  An excellent example of assignments as shown here requires the preparation and collection of evidences, and through an exploration and research process in the assessment, the learners would be able to demonstrate the competency required.  Also learners could identify their own learning needs and gaps in the learning process, when working through the assignments.  With the feedback from peers and or facilitators, the learner could also identify what would need to do to improve his or her learning.  These will all involve sensemaking (giving meaning to experience) and metacognition (cognition about cognition or knowing about knowing).

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How to get the most out of study?

Useful videos presented by Dr Stephen Chew.

Here are part 3 and 4:

Here is my reflection on How to achieve results through study and learning.

My reflection on: How to achieve results through Study and Learning?

I would like to reflect on my experience in achieving results in this paper.

I have always admired people who are highly intelligent and wise.  These people could think analytically, critically, recall matters easily.  They are always prepared to accept challenges and changes.

I have always wished that I could master the best way to achieve, whether it is an academic result or a career goal.  With trial and error, I have acquired some skills and techniques in achieving results, and I would like to share them with you.

Wish

First, what would you like to achieve? Once you have written down your wishes, they could become the goals that you would like to achieve.  If you have a number of wishes or goals, would you consider prioritizing them in order?  Consider using some subjective or objective criteria in the prioritization process, depending on what you think are most appropriate.  This may be difficult, but try to make it as simple as possible at the start.  That is, you just list these goals in order of its importance and urgency.  The most urgent and important goals should be considered first.

An example may be as follows:

Goal 1

To achieve a high distinction (>85 marks) in three academic subjects: Psychology, Engineering Mathematics, and Science.

Goal 2

To reduce weight by ten percent within 6 months (i.e. from 75 kg to 67.5 kg).

When writing down the goals, you need to state them out in specific terms. Avoid writing vague or overly ambitious goals because you may find yourself having difficulty in achieving them.  At the start, you may like to try some easy to achieve goals.  This would give you confidence and a feeling of success.  Once you have achieved the easier goals, you could try writing out more challenging goals, which could reinforce your determination to achieve and a way to improve.  You need to pay caution to the establishment of these goals, because very often we might have goals set up which are beyond our control, or that there are many environmental factors, which could affect the progress that we could hardly achieve.  In these cases, it would be wise to revise the goals whenever we feel necessary.

Way

Once you have the wishes, or goals, you must have a way of achieving these goals.  You may achieve these goals by using strategies and methods.  The strategies laid out the approach you could adopt in achieving your goals.

Example: The goal is to achieve high distinction (above 85%) in Engineering Mathematics.

Strategies:

– Analyze procedures in arriving to solutions.

– Review techniques in solving problems.

– Apply techniques to different situations.

After devising the strategies, you need to consider the methods to use.  It is important to devise the most effective and efficient methods associated with the strategies. Consider the 5 Ws and 1 H, that is: What? When? Where? Why? Who? and How? relating to the method.

Method Example:

To complete exercises on a daily basis: (40 problems in text) within the allocated time for each exercise and to achieve an average of 95%  for the exercises.

To complete past tests within the allocated time and to achieve an average of 95% with standard deviation of 2% allowable.  This must be achieved 2 weeks before the examination.

Will

After you have designed the way to achieve results, perhaps the most difficult part of the course of study is the will.  This means whether you have got the desire to achieve the results through the strategies and methods that you have developed.  This may also be your passion towards learning.

For every learning task or activity that you have developed, there are four main elements that you need to ensure to accomplish the task:  Concentration, Diligence, Think (critical thinking, reflection, analysis and synthesis), and Review.

Concentration – this refers to a deep concentration (or focus) on a particular task or activity that you are working on.

Example 1: If you are working on a research project, you are likely to plan, do, check and act  This involves planning your work, organizing the information, resources or artifacts that you have collected or curated. You would then analyze the details and synthesize the information or resources as necessary. After a critical review, you would then present it in accordance to the need of your target reader.  This requires a systematic approach in research writing, because you have to put it in a proper format that aligns with your readers’ needs.  You would need to focus on the main points and avoid deviating from them.  You must avoid jumping steps, as this might upset your logical thinking. So, concentration here refers to a single mind when doing a particular task.

Example 2: Suppose you are a medical practitioner and are performing a surgical operation.  You must concentrate while performing your surgery and avoid any thinking that are unrelated to the surgery.  This is critical as the life of the patient depends on how you perform!  In this way, you would concentrate to complete the operation.

If you can keep this in mind in your study, then you are placing good emphasis in concentration (with a sense of focus), and success is not far from reach.

Diligence – this is one of the most critical factors in achievement.  I won’t over emphasize the importance of diligence.  Based on my experience diligence could contribute to the achievement of results.  Though sometimes diligence might not always give you the results that you want, due to numerous reasons, one should never forget that without diligence, achievement would be based on ‘luck’, and ‘luck’ could come and go unplanned, and thus is unpredictable.

Think – this refers to critical thinking and critical reflection, and our ability to analyze and synthesize the matters you have learnt, and Metacognition – thinking how to think and learning how to learn.  Critical thinking and personal reflection through thinking aloud could be effective ways to challenging your assumptions, shifting your lens and frame of reference, and viewing things, incidences, other’s perspectives and experiences from different angles. Through analysis and synthesis, you could better understand the parts of the system and thus could more thoroughly devise better ways in achieving results.  This depends on your skills, experience and habits.

Review – this is one of the most important parts of the learning process.  By reviewing your goals, strategies, methods and way of thinking and reflection, you could better understand your strengths and weaknesses (or areas of development) so that you could develop goals which might be more appropriate and strategies and methods which are pragmatic in achieving the goals and results.

Remember that we cannot change the past, and what has happened belongs to the past.  We could “manage” the present, and develop ourselves in response to future challenges – by proper planning, execution and review of the tasks, activities or projects.

Success comes not through luck, but hard work, perseverance and failures.  Failure is the mother of success.  If you have never tried, you would never fail.  If you have never failed, you might not have tried hard enough, as success coming up too easily means that there are always more challenging goals for you to try, in order to learn.

This summarizes how I had learnt at that time – back in the 90s.  How do I learn now? See my coming posts :)

Picture: Google image

How about your story of Learning? Can’t wait to hear and learn!