Conscious as I was that I have a long list of books to read for the upcoming semester, this week I decided to stop and reflect on the past few months and especially on the assignments I just completed.
In doing so I realised the following:
- I need to build on momentum. When term starts I’m always fired up, excited to have new reading lists and impatient to start researching, but last semester a bout of flu really set me back. I had to miss several seminars (should mention here that all my seminars are in the evening and my commute is about 1 ½ hours), and illness gave me an excuse not to study at home – I kept putting it off until I felt better. Although I was genuinely ill, I see that if I had made an effort to stick to my study hours it would have been easier to pick up the pace once I’d fully recovered.
- I need to invest more time in Study Skills. This is a tricky one because these are skills that come naturally to me, and I never consciously worked on them during my undergraduate degree. Looking at my work last semester, I can see that notes taken when I was pushed for time were sub-standard – I ended up with summary statements interspersed with (quite long) quotations. From reading The Good Study Guide (Northredge, Open University), and the Essay Guide on the Royal Literary Fund website, I know that there’s another level I should be reaching, especially as an MA student; I therefore need to invest some time into studying study skills.
- I need to reflect on the learning process. It’s really easy to get caught up in deadlines, be for it assignments or returning library loans, and for that pressure to dictate my activities. Last term I was so caught up in what needed to be done, especially when I got a bit behind, that I didn’t pause to think about what I was doing. I think that I would have written better essays if I’d put that time in, because I would have realised all of the things I’m now writing about.
So, although I have another week before term begins, I’m choosing to build on the momentum I created while writing my assignments. I’ve put a study plan in place, allowing some time to regularly review study skills, started the preparatory reading, and begun a reflective journal.
Hopefully, when I look back at this at the end of next semester the good intentions will have paid off!