Developing good study habits
Developing good study habits is crucial for any student pursuing higher education, but it is of particular importance to working learners. University of Phoenix provides its students with a robust support network that enables working learners to make the most of their existing skills and also boost their ability to be self-disciplined, self-directed, and ultimately successful in their degree programs.
“Forming effective study habits is critical to a student’s success,” says Mari Lopez, Vice President of Student Services Operations at University of Phoenix. “I would encourage students to have a study plan set from the time they begin to take courses.”
How can students best form their own study plans, especially if they are returning to school for the first time after a long period out in the world of work? “They should have scheduled time set aside to dedicate to their studies, to read their course materials, and to work on assignments or discussion questions," says Lopez. "Students should also attempt to remove any distractions that may disrupt their study time so that they are making the most out of the time they have carved aside.”
If University of Phoenix students are having trouble balancing coursework and study time with their other responsibilities, the University offers support and resources to help keep them on track, such as the Life Resource Center. “The University of Phoenix Life Resource Center (LRC) offers complimentary services to current students to help them balance the demands of school, work, and family life,” says Lopez. “Students can receive support through a variety of services such as life and career coaching, financial advice, daily living resources and confidential counseling.”
According to Lopez, current University of Phoenix students can access the Life Resource Center by logging in to their student website. “The services are available around the clock, 365 days a year,” she says. “In addition, the LRC site has thousands of articles, tips, podcasts and self-assessments that further support students in their study needs.” The LRC also provides resources on time and stress management, which can also directly impact study habits.
Working learners often find that they need additional assistance with specific subject areas — frequently writing and math skills. To that end, University of Phoenix has developed the Center for Writing Excellence and the Center for Mathematics Excellence, which provide current University of Phoenix students with additional support in these critical areas.
Heather Lunsford, MAEd, MA, is Product Director for the Center for Writing Excellence (CWE), and her colleague Ruth Geiman, PhD, is Product Director for the Center for Mathematics Excellence (CME). “Students should be coming to our centers to continue their studies and also grow their skills,” says Lunsford.
Both the CWE and CME provide multiple self-directed options for students to improve upon both their existing skillsets in writing and mathematics, as well as opportunities for one-on-one tutoring with a live instructor. “The Center for Mathematics Excellence has two basic functions,” says Dr. Geiman. “First, we offer review/refresh tutorials (called Running Start) that cover all levels of mathematics, from basic arithmetic all the way up to college-level statistics, linear algebra, and even physics. Many of our working learners, especially our graduate students, have not been in a traditional mathematics course for years, and they especially value these online tutorials. We want them to review what they already know, and hit the ground running.”
Running Start begins with a self-assessment that helps the student gauge her existing skill level and also suggests which online tutorials (e.g., Pre-Algebra, Algebra, Statistics, etc.) are needed.
Building Math Confidence
In addition to the review-refresh tutorials, the Center for Mathematics Excellence also offers a variety of programs on Building Math Confidence, including overcoming math anxiety. “Math anxiety is real,” says Dr. Geiman. “It can really get in the way of learning. That’s why we have these tools available to our students.”
Live Classroom Whiteboard
The CME also offers live one-on-one tutoring via its WorldWideWhiteboard™ which allows students to tackle questions and problems with the help of a live online instructor in real time. Other programs include podcasts, worksheets, videos and even some materials developed by University of Phoenix instructors in their own courses which they share with the whole student community. “We take the math learning curves of our students very seriously,” says Dr. Geiman. “We’re constantly expanding our pool of resources.”
The Center for Writing Excellence (CWE) also offers a variety of services to University of Phoenix students looking for assistance with writing skills. “We have two main components to our services,” says Heather Lunsford. “We offer a wide variety of online writing review sources, including WritePoint™, which is an automated writing-evaluation software specifically developed with University of Phoenix students in mind. We have a variety of tutorials and writing guides available for self-study, as well as sample documents and essays that students can use as a model. For example, we have sample business memos that students enrolled business classes can review.”
CWE also offers an online plagiarism checker, as well as an automated program called RiverPoint Writer™, which assists with writing APA-style reference citations. CWE also makes all of these services available to University of Phoenix faculty seeking assistance with their own research and professional publications.
In addition to managing the robust resources of the Center for Writing Excellence and Center for Mathematics Excellence, both Lunsford and Dr. Geiman can offer some general study advice for University of Phoenix students. “My own students have advised me on what kinds of study habits work best for them,” says Dr. Geiman. “They all say that it’s important to realize that online study is still study, and it is rigorous. Online study requires daily dedication, and it is very serious business.”
Lunsford agrees. “Students need to read the material in the course, understand it, and most importantly, ask questions,” she says. “Let the ideas form for a while after you read the material, and let the ideas percolate. But don’t procrastinate!”
Dr. Geiman takes things a step further. “Students need to take advantage of our services [at the CWE and CME] whenever possible,” she says. “Education is earned; it’s not a gift.”
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