Date: Monday, February 20, 2012
Time: 1:00 – 2:00 PM (Toronto) / 8:00 – 9:00PM (Istanbul)
Moderated: Tyson Seburn (@seburnt) & Sharon Turner (@sharonzspace)
Main attendees: Adam Simpson (@yearinthelifof), Carolyn Bergshoeff (@MellynEducation), David Mearns (@davidmearns), Olywn Alexander (@olwyna), Mura Nava (@muranava)
What are the most important (effective) study skills to teach?
Three particular subtopics developed over our hour together.
1) Time management in self-study
A large problem area here tends to be the fact that students have little experience with managing their own time in a university setting. With parents and teachers doing so under strict rule for the majority of their scholastic lives, when given the freedom to do it themselves, many are unable and lack the skills required to make effective use of their time, missing deadlines, leaving work to the last minute or the opposite even, overwhelming preoccupation with study. A balance between study vs social lives needs to be reinforced.
Suggestions that came up:
- Students enter not only due dates, but periodic reminders (e.g. when to start assignments) in Google Calendar
- Start a Facebook class group or Edmodo that includes info on important dates
- Advise students to set aside specific hours per day to do anything but study or vice versa, depending on the main problem
- Explain the rhythm of their studies at this level
- Have students bring their schedule and workload and work together to find the balance
- Create different study scenarios with varying factors (e.g. content work, assignments, personal matters, etc.) and have students work through together to figure out what works for them; talk it out as a group activity
- Work with tutorial leaders about the process of assignment work
2) Vocabulary self-study
We discussed both whether it was worthwhile to study vocabulary outside of class and how to do so most effectively. One issue that was recurrent was that of students not focussing on more than memorisation of words, which leaves them with little ability to use them appropriately. This process ignores various aspects of learning vocabulary (e.g. multi-meaning, collocation, word grammar, word class and family, etc.).
Suggestions that arose:
- Have a class discussion about whether memorisation works – try out a memorisation activity and vocabulary profile (like these)
- Garnet Educations’s English for academic study: vocabulary self-study text (Colin Campbell) – Its first five chapters introduces and practices the aspects of vocabulary often overlooked by students and teachers (see above); the second five chapters applies those concepts to working with the first five sublists of the Academic Word List; students need a self-study routine established first though.
- Practice aspects (e.g. collocation or sentence construction) with students to demonstrate what should be done during self-study too
- Have students focus on vocabulary when doing their own readings, but guessing meaning from context, organising by topic, noticing collocation, etc.
- Have students be teachers, where they create their own vocabulary activities for other students and teach the vocabulary to them
- Implement an IMRD (Intro to vocab to learn, Method they use to learn it, Results of what they learnt, Discussion of the process with the class) system
- Students record vocabulary profiles in a notebook
3) Encouraging autonomous work
One issue can also be that students aren’t entirely sure of what to do outside of class for their own learning beyond the homework that is assigned. There are various ways to encourage autonomous practice.
Suggestions for this:
- Chatinars – David’s work that has students watch a video on a particular topic and then conduct a Facebook group chat with each other about it when they are at home. This isn’t monitored or used for accuracy, but encourages (with great success) student-engagement with L2 outside the classroom in a more authentically used environment
- Portfolios – Students identify what parts of that week’s lessons they feel the weakest at, why and write this down. They find internet or other sources of activities that can help them practice this. They list what they’ve done and bring/email it to the instructor to discuss one-on-one. Instructors give suggestions on weaknesses and where to go from there. These autonomously chosen exercises are collected for part of the year’s grade and to show students how much they’ve worked. Sometimes grades need to be the motivation.
- Student/assignment blogs – Have student groups create a blog where they work together to produce a writing assignment that normally they’d hand in on paper. This format is more modern and gives students the opportunity to add in their own creativity while also practising the skills they’ve been using in class.
- Discussion boards – Peers can review each others’ writing. Instructors can monitor through the threads created
So there you have it. Hopefully I didn’t miss anything major. A big thanks to all who joined in or lurked during our first iteration of #EAPchat. A couple of tools that might come in handy next time it’s on Twitter:
1) Don’t forget to use the #EAPchat hashtage on your tweets or it goes astray from the collected conversation. For this, you may consider using TweetChat, which opens an EAPchat room for you and automatically puts the hashtag on your tweets.
2) Check out the #EAPchat report on Hashtagtracking for really cool stats. (I’ve put some below for those who don’t have access to the beta version)
3) Like the #EAPchat Facebook page to keep up-to-date on topic polls, dates and platforms. Next week, the entire chat will be held on the Facebook page (Monday, February 27 @ 1:00PM Toronto), not Twitter! ;)
Interesting stats for Week 1, #EAPchat
For full stats and tweets, click here.