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Study Smart: tutors' guide

A guide for tutors

How is the course organised?

Study Smart is structured in 3 sessions, covering three essential concepts for studying at university level. The sessions are labelled as 'Weeks' using FutureLearn terminology; however, they will all be released at the same time, and are referred to within the course as sessions. We anticipate that each session should take no more than three hours to complete, and students may choose to complete all three sessions on one day or spread their engagement over several days, as they prefer.

The course will remain open to enrolled participants so they can return to it later in the academic year when they have a clearer idea of the contexts in which they are working. Note that we cannot accept late entrants after enrolment has closed in Week 6 of Autumn term.

Academic Integrity

This section welcomes students to the University and opens the dialogue about what it means to be a University of Reading student: what are the values that we expect from all members of our academic community, and how do these work in practice in the key areas of referencing and research?

Communicating at University

This section takes a broad look at the different types of communication students will be expected to use at university, and the principles that underpin them: from inter-personal communications like emails to tutors, to appropriate listening and speaking in seminars and lectures, and communicating ideas and understanding more formally in assignments of all sorts, written and oral. It will include specific guidance on writing for Maths and Science students who might have less experience of writing in an academic context.

Independent Learning

This section will expand on the widely-known need to become a more independent learner when studying at university, showing how it applies to more than just managing your time: to include researching independently, managing time and getting organised, and thinking critically.

In each part of the course the principles behind university study will be covered through a series of steps. These will include a mixture of articles, videos, animations, quizzes and discussion boards. Students can move freely forwards and backwards within the course, so if they feel they want to go back and reread a section, there are no barriers to doing this.

What formats are used?

The course is made up of 'steps' in a range of formats commonly used in MOOCs on the FutureLearn platform. These will include:

Articles

Articles in the course may be illustrated with images, infographics and examples. Content for the articles has been created by the Study Advice team, informed by their experience of working with students, and internal and external research on the issues new undergraduates report in transitioning to higher education.

Videos

Videos have been produced by MotionBlurr, a film company which has previously worked on videos for UoR MOOCs and includes former UoR students who know the campus well. They include students recounting their own experiences; academic tutors explaining key principles of academic study; walking tours where students lead a more dynamic look at an aspect of study. The course will be framed by two videos featuring the VC welcoming students firstly to the course, and then to the academic community at the University of Reading.

Animations

Developed by Typography students as part of their experience of working on real jobs, animations aim to communicate concepts through engaging visuals with an explanatory narration.

Exercises and quizzes

These more interactive steps ask students to actively engage with tasks. They might include selecting appropriate words to complete phrases, or clicking through a timeline to see how academic principles might operate. Brief multiple choice quizzes with answers provided on submission will give students the opportunity to self-assess their understanding as they work through the course.

Discussions

Discussion boards are used to encourage students to consider their own ideas about the concepts, and to engage in discussion with fellow students, giving them an early opportunity to network with their peers. Boards will be monitored and moderated by trained student moderators and Study Advisers.

List of steps

Session 1: Academic Integrity

Step

Title

Format

Brief description

1.1

Are you ready for UoR study success?

Article

Brief welcome to course with short form to add student details.

1.2

Welcome to the academic community

Video + article

Welcome to the course from the V-C, plus information about how the course works.

1.3

Introduce yourself

Discussion

Opportunity for students to introduce themselves and their topic of study, and meet their peers.

1.4

First impressions

Video + discussion

UoR undergraduates discuss their first impressions on starting university. Course participants invited to discuss their expectations and how they compare to the video.

1.5

What’s it really like to study at university?

Quiz

Busting some of the myths about university study.

1.6

Becoming a University of Reading student

Article

Brief description of what we mean by academic integrity and its relation to university study.

1.7

What do tutors say about academic integrity?

Video + podcasts

Academic tutors from various departments talk about what academic integrity means in their disciplines.

1.8

Studying with academic integrity

Infographic

Flow diagram showing how academic integrity is relevant to study tasks on the timeline of an assignment.

1.9

Finding information for your studies

Article

Building on research skills gained at school to make them suitable for university study.

1.10

Choosing and evaluating sources

Infographic

Flowchart infographic illustrating the process of choosing and evaluating sources for study.

1.11

Get to know your library

Video

Student-led tour of the Library, highlighting services and support.

1.12

Why is referencing important?

Video + podcasts

Academic tutors from various disciplines explain why referencing is important in their subjects.

1.13

When should you include a reference?

Article

Explaining the purpose of references in academic writing and when they are needed.

1.14

What counts as common knowledge?

Article + discussion

How the concept of common knowledge can change in different disciplines/cultures with an activity for students to identify examples relevant to them.

1.15

Constructing your citations

Animation

Animated video showing the details needed to construct citations for different types of source.

1.16

What does academic integrity mean to you?

Discussion

Challenge to describe academic integrity in a five word phrase.

1.17

Reviewing your learning

Quiz

Multiple choice quiz to review what students have learnt in the session.

1.18

What next?

Article

Brief summary of Session 1, and what to look forward to in Session 2.

 

Session 2: Communicating at university

Step

Title

Format

Brief description

2.1

I wish I’d known

Video

UoR current students discuss the things they found out about university study that they wished they had known about before they arrived on campus.

2.2 

How will you be asked to communicate at university?

Discussion

A discussion asking students how they think they will be asked to communicate at university and what they may find challenging

2.3

The ways and places you’ll learn

Article

An article outlining the different ways students learn at university, such as lectures, seminars, group work and presentations

2.4

How do academics communicate their research?

Article

An article exploring the different ways research is communicated depending on the audience and purpose

2.5

Thinking about purpose and audience

Infographic

A model depicting how the audience and purpose of the communication determines the style and the content

2.6

The art of good communication

Animation

An animation recapping the different ways students are expected to communicate at university

2.7

How to communicate at university

Article

An article offering advice on how to consider audience and purpose when responding to emails or discussing ideas in seminars

2.8

Engaging in seminars

Video

A video led by a student covering tips on getting the most out of seminars

2.9

Practically perfect presentations

Article

An article discussing how students can best prepare for presentations

2.10

Everyone writes at university

Article

An article, with examples, highlighting that all students write at university, regardless of their subject

2.11

Seven steps to writing success

Article

A process model students could use when planning, structuring and writing their assignments

2.12

Introductions, conclusions and paragraphs

Video

A tutor discussing the importance of good, clear writing structure

2.13

What is academic style?

Article

An article explaining what is meant by academic style

2.14

Spelling, punctuation and grammar

Video

A tutor highlighting the importance of spelling, grammar and punctuation in academic work

2.15

Learning from feedback

Interactive exercise

An article highlighting the importance of learning from feedback and a chance for students to hear what some common feedback comments mean

2.16

What have you learnt

Quiz

A quiz testing students communication skills

2.17

What’s next?

Article

An article introducing students to next Week’s content

 

Session 3: Independent learning

Step

Title

Format

Brief description

3.1

How I approach studying

Video

UoR undergraduates discuss what it means to be an independent learner and the things that distract them from studying

3.2

Taking ownership

Animation

Animated video discussing the principles of independent learning

3.3

What’s my workload like?

Article

Example weekly timetables from different subjects, highlighting some issues with managing time depending on workload 

3.4

Managing your time

Video

Student-led tour discussing time management challenges and strategies

3.5

Fitting it all in

Article + infographic

Infographic showing the links between termly, weekly, and daily planning

3.6

Why do we procrastinate?

Article

Article exploring some of the deeper reasons behind putting work off

3.7

Confronting the instant gratification monkey

Discussion

Discussion asking students to share what distracts them and tips for avoiding these distractions

3.8

Critical thinking is…?

Video + podcasts

Academics from various departments talk about what critical thinking means in their subject

3.9

Everyday critical thinking

Article + infographic

A diagram showing a worked example of critical thinking in an everyday situation – choosing what to have for breakfast

3.10

Definitions of critical thinking

Article

More academics share their definitions of critical thinking in speech bubble diagrams

3.11

You’re not on your own

Article

Introduces students to UoR’s Student Charter and offers tips for making asking for advice and help easier

3.12

We’re here to help you

Article

Short overviews and links to the academic support services available at the University

3.13

Treasure hunt

Quiz

Searching for and finding information on the University webpages

3.14

Looking forward…

Discussion

Asking students for their feedback on the course and what they’re looking forward to when they arrive

3.15

Are you ready?

Article

Certificate of completion with reflective questions for students to print themselves

3.16

Goodbye…Hello

Video

Video message from the VC congratulating students on finishing Study Smart and welcoming them to the University

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