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Building Academic Rigor

At the beginning of each new academic year, many students ask me, “how much time should I study each night and on the weekends,” and are often a little flabbergasted with my answer. While there is no magic number, I typically say they should study 3-4 hours a night after class, and 6-8 hours on Saturday and Sunday. Many students did not feel the need to study nearly this much during their undergraduate career, and for them, this feels overwhelming. However, think of this like training for a marathon. With practice and time, a student has the capacity to build their academic rigor or the amount of time they can spend studying without burning out. I’m not saying this will happen easily because at times this can be exhausting. Keep at it! Remember the goal at the end of your training, A.K.A. your degree and future career. When in doubt remember you have help here at TUN. Come see us in OASIS, push on, and work hard!

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Welcome to Touro University Nevada

touro-university2

To all our new students welcome to Touro University Nevada! To all our returning students welcome back. Old or new a wealth of fresh experiences awaits you this academic year. With all the scholarly resolutions July almost feels like an academic New Year’s Eve. However, will this be like most resolutions where the start of the promise is passionate, but come week 3 of the semester all those resolutions become disimpassioned thoughts? I certainly hope not, but if you find yourself wavering don’t hesitate to reach out for help to your professors, peers, or talk to us in OASIS anytime. Hard work, dedication, and sacrifice led you to this point and the same will bring you through it. Since the first couple weeks of school are just over the horizon, we wanted to give you our top ten suggestions for mentally, physically, emotionally, and academically preparing yourself.

Here we go:

1) Set goals and stick to them.

Establish early on you want A’s, and work for them!

2) Rethink your approach to school.

Go into your program with high expectations for yourself, and the attitude that you’ll need to devote more time to your academic life to be successful.

3) Meet your peers and make friends.

Your peers will be your fellow soldiers as they are part of the few people who will really understand this chapter in your life.

4) Make the most of your resources.

Talk to your adviser, meet with professors, talk to experienced students, and meet with OASIS.

5) Research the curriculum.

Get a jump on the semester by reading the chapter introductions from upcoming lectures.

6) Read with purpose!

This is your profession so read with purpose and enthusiasm.

7) Begin time management preparation.

Although this will change as the semester progresses, you should already develop the habit of following a schedule, albeit a flexible one.

8) Keep your family & friends in the loop.

Discuss with your family and close friends that these next few years will be busy, but will be worth the sacrifice.

9) Know that you belong here.

You worked hard and belong in your program and don’t tell yourself otherwise.

10) Be passionate about your studies and enjoy life.

You will be busy, but enjoy your work and take moments for yourself.

Reflecting Before Finals

Adult sportsman on cliff above valley watch into misty landscape

The end of another academic year is quickly approaching. With this, many students feel the pressure of upcoming final exams, and at the same time are looking forward to summer vacation. Maybe this was a tough semester for you, or maybe overall it was a tough year. Regardless, take the time to reflect on the past 12 months. Contemplate what made you a great student and what made you a not-so-good student. The idea of reflection might sound fluffy to some, but more than anecdotal evidence supports the idea that students who reflect on their academic choices tend to outperform their peers (Coulson & Harvey, 2013). If you’re not sure where to start, consider this question, “if you could go back to day one of this year, and do it all over again, what would you do differently?” After deep introspection, take your own advice and look to apply this to the upcoming new academic year.

The Aha Moment!

lightbulb2Making the most of insightful thinking

New research from Drexel University supports the power of sudden insight. This type of critical insight is best illustrated when there is no traditional path to solve a problem. Most of us have experienced this phenomenon when we solve a problem seemingly from a bolt of lightning or source from the unknown. John Kounios, PhD says that “Insight is unconscious, automatic and can’t be rushed.” The lead author Carola Salvi, PhD says that when “people have an insightful thought, they are likely to be correct.”

Why does this matter in health care? Insights may be related to recognition of patterns and puzzles, a common description of solving health care mysteries. Insights cannot be rushed but research such as this from Salvi and Kounios illustrate its value. Another very valuable finding from their research was the role of deadlines and the resulting anxieties power to push one to think analytically. The authors suggest that creative results are less likely to occur from a restricted timeline.

Drexel University. (2016, March 7). Trust your aha! moments: Experiments show they’re probably right. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 17, 2017 from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/03/160307144013.htm

Your Peers Can Model Your Studying Habits

Bridge

“Would you jump off a bridge if your friends did it?” A cliché phrase most often heard from parents while trying to convince their child not to follow their friends down a certain path. I remembering hearing this, and chances are you do too. This phrase continues to have application even in graduate school. However, there are times when a student should follow a peer’s example and times when they should back away. For example, many students who consistently receive A’s put in 15 to 20 hours of studying on the weekend. At times these high achieving students may play the “cool card” and try to appear like their grades are effortless, but upon inspection, their peers would find a hardworking and dedicated student. This is the kind of student a peer should want to follow off a bridge, metaphorically speaking of course.

Unfortunately, there are students who follow a different path. A path that consistently leads to lower scores. Far too often these students are fine with low performance because they are simply looking to pass. They tend to be the student that claims, for appearance’s sake, that they study nonstop or the 15 to 20 hours on a weekend. Nevertheless, upon further inspection, it becomes clear they don’t study with consistency and are easily distracted. Oddly enough, many peers tend to follow these students. Perhaps because it’s the path of least resistance.

I would like to encourage any student to find an excellent peer to model study habits of off. Whether you are at the top of the class, or not as high as you would like, you can find a model to use. This may not mean doing everything your model does, but it does likely mean taking on certain traits such as discipline, perseverance, and the belief in one-self to accomplish their goals. Mimicking these traits alone can yield an extremely successful student. So find that model, figure out how they work (don’t be afraid to ask), and get started!

Sounds of nature

acaciaDuring spring break students are often faced with the challenge of deciding what to do. Should they do nothing and binge on TV? Should they study? Should they spend the time over-eating and sleeping? Decisions, decisions…

At this time of year, an idea for students who are indecisive or don’t want to study or need to study, consider the benefits of going outside.

According to this article: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170330132354.htm the sounds of nature help you de-stress. What better way to spend part of spring break than de-stressing. Going to the park, hiking, biking, taking a run or walking your dogs all qualify as “a-destress” activity. All of these options are free and can be done as an open ended event which also allows one to reduce stress levels. Oftentimes students feel so over scheduled that it’s hard to get out of that mindset of “I have to be doing something.” There are lots of parks around Henderson, you can go to Red Rock for a hike, Spring Valley Ranch and many other local outdoor spaces.

 

 

Research Rundown

There have been quite a few really interesting studies lately on the learning and memory front. Here is just a sampling of the work that could help you to study better:

  • Researchers at the University of Waterloo (Canada), have found that students who re-read information are more likely to experience mind wandering during the re-reading process (Phillips, Mills, D’Mello, & Risko, 2016). Students often use re-reading as a study strategy because it feels like it is a productive process because the second (or third) time reading through a piece of information is easier and faster than the first exposure; however, this ease of processing is actually due to decreased attention because students are not truly interpreting the words on the page. Here is a link to the research: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17470218.2015.1107109
  • As we’ve stressed on this blog before- sleep is an important part of the memory consolidation process, but when you sleep, and what you have planned after sleep, looks like it may also change your memory. Researchers in Germany have found that students who knew that they would be quizzed on information that they studied prior to sleeping performed better on questions than students who immediately took a quiz after studying. The students in the sleep/quiz group also remembered the information better on follow-up quizzes than students who quizzed after studying or those who just slept after studying. Take home message here: if you’re studying for a test, it might be best to quiz yourself in the morning after you’ve studied and slept on it! Research here: http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.02025/full
  • On a similar note, meditation after studying may provide similar memory consolidation effects as sleeping after studying. While this study examined learning of motor skills, the results could easily translate to learning academic information. Read it here: http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.02025/full
  • Finally, research on goal monitoring and progress has shown that people typically neglect monitoring their progress towards their goals because of the fear of having to actually change in order to reach those goals. This effect is called the “ostrich problem” because people would rather be ignorant of their progress (or lack of progress) than taking the necessary steps to get to their desires. As a student, taking quizzes (like the ones suggested after a sleep session), asking yourself if you really read information (and didn’t just allow your mind to wander through it), or taking the time to meditate on a specific piece of information may help you to become more aware of your knowledge and progress faster towards your goal of graduation! Here is the last article: http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00152/full