Library

Showing posts with label drop-in sessions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label drop-in sessions. Show all posts

1 August 2017

All about the Research and Learning Point


Did you know there is a desk at every library, where you can talk about your assignments with knowledgeable staff? By Romney Adams, Clinton Bell, Romany Manuell and Bei-En Zou



It’s called the Research and Learning Point, and the opening hours for each library branch can be found here. Note that from Week 4, evening drop-ins until 7pm are offered at Hargrave-Andrew and Matheson libraries.

This service point is different from the Information Point where Library staff loan you books or assist you with printing. The Research and Learning Point is staffed by librarians and learning skills advisers, who are experts in researching information and presenting it effectively.

Best of all? You don’t need to make an appointment. Just drop in after catching up with friends, on your way to grab coffee, or in-between classes! We’ll work with you for up to 15 minutes, and make sure you’re on the right track… just be sure to bring the assignment sheet, and/or a copy of your work with you.

So, what are some of the queries librarians and learning skills adviser handle? Let’s ask them now...

What can you ask a librarian?


Librarians get asked a lot of questions! The most common questions have to do with finding high-quality, authoritative information. Maybe you’re working on an assignment and can’t seem to find a journal article on your topic. Or, maybe what you’re looking for is in a book you never knew existed! Librarians can talk to you about the keywords you’re using, and can suggest places you might like to look (in databases, or on the shelves).

Librarians are also referencing experts! We can help you with your reference list and talk you through some of the finer points of the different referencing styles.

What can you ask a learning skills adviser?

Not sure how to get started on that essay? Wondering how to best structure your assignment? Need some tips for the oral presentation that’s coming up? Wanting to get better results and manage your study time more effectively? Learning skills advisers are here to assist you in developing your skills in all aspects of your academic work! No matter what style of assessment you have, we can show you the way to plan your approach - we even have some tips for exam preparation.

We’re not all about assessments though. As well as time management tips, we can also work with you to develop your critical thinking, note-taking, and effective reading skills, which will be beneficial to you throughout your degree!

What’s available online?


If you can’t make it to a Research and Learning Point, don’t worry! Through Research and Learning Online you can find information and interactive tutorials on study skills, doing assignments, and graduate research and writing, as well as examples of assignments from each faculty. If you're in a hurry, there are also Quick Study Guides you can print out.

Our Library Guides webpage also has a lot of useful information, including the popular citing and referencing guide, which gives examples of correct references in many of the styles used at Monash. You can also find lists of important databases and journals for your study area, as well as guides to Turnitin and EndNote.

So, visit your Research and Learning experts - in person or online - before the assessment crunch begins!




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20 March 2017

Citing and referencing - a guide for teaching staff

Citing and referencing is an essential academic skill that students enrolled in your teaching unit may struggle with, says Librarian Louise Micallef. She outlines some ways the Library can help your students.

Despite the fact that they have undertaken research for school assignments, work or personal purposes, for most students, the university is often the first encounter they have with academic literature. The need to reference their work accurately according to a prescribed style can cause some anxiety, particularly as it affects overall marks.

At the Library, we are experts at citing and referencing and can help your students to understand and apply this crucial skill, which is required in assignments at university level to:
  • demonstrate the credibility of their ideas 
  • validate their work 
  • give due credit to the research of others, and
  • allow readers to locate the original sources used for ideas and evidence in an assignment.
In my experience as a subject librarian, some of the most common citing and referencing mistakes made by students are:
  • incorrect use of commas, italics and ampersands
  • spelling inconsistencies
  • overuse of direct quotes
  • incorrect use of ‘et al.’
  • wrong order of multiple citations in a single parenthesis
  • failure to include a DOI for journal articles if appropriate for the style
  • failure to list all cited sources in the reference list and to do so in accurate alphabetical order
  • general formatting errors such as spacing and use of hanging indents
  • inability to correctly identify the resource type they are dealing with.
Evidently, the protocols and intricacies of referencing are often overwhelming and quite daunting for some students. So where can  you direct your students so they can learn the principles of citing and referencing  and how to effectively and accurately apply it to their work? The Library has created a number of excellent resources and opportunities for students to develop these crucial academic skills.

Five ways the Library can help your students with citing and referencing

1. Library Guides – Citing and Referencing and EndNote

We create Library guides to pull together useful resources on a variety of research skills topics or subject areas all in the one place. The Citing and Referencing Library Guide  covers the full range of citing and referencing styles used at Monash. Students can learn about why, how and when to cite and reference for their next assignment or research paper there.

Similarly, EndNote is a very useful reference management software that stores and automatically creates citations, references and bibliographies for assignments in the required style. Of course, EndNote is not foolproof, so we recommend that students understand how citations and references are used in academic writing when using the program to ensure accuracy. For a comprehensive guide to using Endnote, including "how to use it"  tutorials, see our EndNote Library Guide

2. Demystifying Citing and Referencing - tutorial

The Library has also created an online, interactive citing and referencing tutorial which includes activities and short self-assessment quizzes. It has been designed to teach the principles of citing and referencing, and understand how to avoid plagiarising when integrating source material. This valuable tutorial takes approximately 20 minutes to complete.

3. Research and Learning Point – drop-in sessions

Students can drop in for a 15 minute consultation with a Subject Librarian or Learning Skills Adviser at the Library. At a drop-in session students can get advice on research for their assignments, academic communication and study skills including citing and referencing.

There is no need for them to make an appointment and students are seen on a first come, first served basis. This service is offered between week two to twelve at all Monash libraries. See session times here.

4. Library program, resource or activity embedded in curriculum

We can work with you to design and teach a particular segment, class or resource as part of the academic curriculum for your unit, to ensure that students know the principles of citing and referencing and how to apply them for your assignments and projects.

Contact our specialist staff  to discuss further

5. One on one consultations (postgraduate students)

Librarians and learning skills advisers have specialist knowledge of resources and publishing in various subject disciplines. Postgraduate students are entitled to make individual appointments with their subject librarian and learning skills adviser at any stage of their research. We can provide you with specialist advice about citing and referencing for thesis or journal article submission.

Contact our specialist staff  to make an appointment.

So, if citing and referencing evokes a sense of dread in your students, help is always available from the Library both in person and online!





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9 March 2017

Looking for advice on English grammar?

Are you looking for advice on English grammar for your assignments? Then come to a drop-in session with a Peer Support facilitator from English Connect!




The English Connect Peer Support drop-in sessions are now co-located alongside the Library’s Research and Learning point in the Matheson, Hargrave-Andrew, Caulfield and Peninsula libraries on an ongoing basis. This comes after a successful trial last semester.

Students have found the co-location to be means that you can drop in at the Research and Learning point for professional advice from Library staff on your research, citing and referencing and assignments, then visit the Peer Support table for all your grammar questions. Please note that neither the Library nor Peer Support offer proofreading services.


In the free 20 minute Peer Support session you can speak to a trained student-facilitator one-on-one. If you bring along one or two paragraphs of the assignment or essay you’re working on, you’ll be able to read through them together to get advice about your English grammar. You will also get tips and resources to help you in the future.


Drop-in sessions are available at the following times:
  • Matheson Library Monday to Friday: 11am to 3pm
  • Hargrave-Andrew Library (HAL) Monday and Wednesday: 11am to 3pm
  • Caulfield Library Monday to Thursday: 11am to 3pm
  • Peninsula Library Tuesday and Thursday: 1pm to 3pm

Visit the Peer Support website for more information.

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26 April 2016

Strategies for group work

Group work can be a positive experience in your studies if you work as a team and follow some of these straight-forward strategies, says Emma Price, Learning Skills Adviser.


It is common to feel a bit discouraged or pessimistic when set a group assignment. Students often prefer to work individually due to previous negative experiences of group work. This could involve some kind of conflict within the group, people dropping off and leaving others to do all the work, or difficulties negotiating time or ideas amongst the group members. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Group work can be a very positive experience in your studies; it just takes a few easy steps to manage it effectively.

As an extra incentive, effective group work is essential to learn, as this is an increasingly important skill required by employers. Students who have experience working in groups are better prepared for the collaborative nature of work in their future careers. It also means you can demonstrate this skill in job interviews using your experiences at university. So it makes sense to develop these skills while studying.

So with all that in mind, here are some straightforward strategies you can use whenever you have to work in a group:

Set ground rules

Always do this first. This could be more formal in a ‘group contract’ or through an informal discussion/email agreement. You’ll want to decide on:


  • how often you will meet,
  • how you will maintain regular communication,
  • what roles or tasks each person will complete, and
  • assignment goals and a timeline for completion.

Make sure everyone agrees and understands how the group will work.

If everyone is involved in this planning stage and has their thoughts considered, they are less likely to disengage from the group.

Regular meetings are essential

Try to organise your meetings and their individual goals from the beginning of the assignment. This way you will all know what you are aiming for as a group with set milestones and tasks to be completed for each meeting. If availability is causing problems, you might want to discuss if online meetings or a combination with face-to-face meetings will suit all of your group better.
Always record any decisions made, task allocations and assignment progress in every meeting.

Dividing up work

Before you can allocate tasks, your group will need to analyse the assignment closely to decide what is required and how you will achieve this. Once you have a clear picture on the assignment, you can then determine a fair and equal way of dividing the workload. Sometimes this isn’t always clear at the outset, so you may want to share some earlier tasks (such as initial research) and then divide up later tasks once you have a better idea of what is involved.

Communication

It might seem obvious to mention but all of your group communication should be polite and respectful. Not only is this common etiquette but will also help to maintain good relationships between the group members and potentially avoid problems. Listening to everyone’s thoughts on the assignment and keeping an open mind to suggestions is essential to effective completion. Be aware of your non-verbal communication (body language) when meeting together and focus on giving each other constructive feedback rather than negative criticism or ‘nit-picking’. At the same time, always consider any constructive feedback or suggestions you receive from your fellow group members and don’t take it personally.

Managing any problems

Problems will often happen due to group dynamics or slow progress. If conflict does arise, clearly identify the problem as a group and avoid negative ‘finger-pointing’. Focus your discussion on constructive ideas (rather than on individuals) and consider practical solutions to address the problem. You may need to revise your plans or change your goals, but remember, this is all part of working in a team.

Group work can be challenging but it is also rewarding. Through careful planning, active participation and good communication, your group work experience can be effective and positive.

Don’t forget the friendly Learning Skills Advisers at the Research and Learning Point drop-ins are available if you have any questions on effective group work, and remember to check for any upcoming workshops.










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9 March 2016

Get started on your writing task


Sometimes just sitting down and starting to type is the toughest hurdle to clear when you are submitting an assignment. The steps in this blog entry will help you fly over it, leaving it far behind you, write Tami Castillo and Damian Gleeson.



You’ve been working for days now and you still don’t have one word of your essay or report written. You really have worked hard but have nothing to show for it. Fear not! All the groundwork has prepared you well, and the writing should take nowhere near as long as the preparation. Sometimes just sitting down and starting to type is the toughest hurdle to clear. The steps in this blog entry will help you fly over it, leaving it far behind you!

Have you fully analysed the topic?

If you don’t analyse it fully, you may not avail yourself of all marks on offer. Assessment topics always have the same key ingredients: direction words that tell you what to do, topic words and limiting words that set the required scope. Be very clear that you understand what your topic is asking you to do and what your tutor requires from you. There are several possible genres that might form part of your writing assessment. Be sure that you know what each genre entails. The Library’s Research and Learning Online is a useful resource to guide you. Several faculties at Monash have their own style guides, like BusEco’s Q Manual and IT’s Style Guide. Check your unit guide and Moodle sites for further information.


Have you done your research?


This does not mean using Google - anyone can do that. The Library spends millions of dollars on subscriptions to databases and journals, and it is your privilege as a Monash student to use them. So use them! Library Guides are a good starting point for finding discipline-specific databases and journals, but a librarian can help you choose some great databases to start with, and also work with you to build your skills so you can get the most out of your searches. Also, don’t forget your lecture and tutorial notes and required/recommended weekly readings. When you start writing you’ll probably find you’ll need to go back and research some aspects of your topic more. This is normal and to be expected. It means you are becoming suitably focused on key aspects that require rigour. Good for you!


Make a plan, Stan. Then use it to structure your work, Björk.

An unplanned essay is potentially a recipe for disaster. As a bare minimum, note your academic position/thesis and the subject of each body paragraph. This should assist you in maintaining a clear, structured response to the assignment question. Remember that each paragraph should consist of one idea that is explained in detail, supported by evidence and examples and linked back to the topic in order to prove its relevance. To do this in 1 - 3 sentences is impossible. If your paragraph is longer than a page, there is probably more than one main idea or there is too much detail. Don’t forget a clear introduction that
  • provides a general intro to the topic
  • tells your reader about your particular focus
  • offers a thesis statement indicating your academic position
  • previews your work’s structure, showing how you intend to achieve your stated goal. 
A conclusion is also necessary, summarising what you achieved and how you achieved it in your assignment, as well as providing a big picture statement of what is all means in the wider context.

Ready? Set? Write!

There are countless excuses to stop you from sitting down and typing your assignment. None of them is likely to justify your inertia. Once you actually start writing, you should find all that research, reading, planning and thinking has put you in a position where the flow quickly becomes a torrent. Get it all out of you as fast as you can! You can edit and proofread it all later. Go!

You may have doubts about whether your work is at the level your tutor expects or not. This may be because you are new to university, the first in your family or your friends to undertake tertiary study, or you are returning to study after a long break. See our Librarians and Learning Skills Advisers in your library’s Research and Learning Point -- they are available a few hours a day to see students or groups. At drop-ins, experts can provide tips, advice and feedback on all the research and academic work you need to do. There is no need for an appointment and you’ll be seen on a first-come, first-served basis.


Tami Castillo is a Learning Skills Adviser and Damian Gleeson is a Research and Learning Coordinator.



Images: Monash Image Library


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25 May 2015

How to stay healthy during exams


To study effectively, maintain peak performance and be at your best on exam day, you need to make sure you stay healthy...by Clinton Bell



Can you imagine the coach of a football team telling his players to prepare for a big game by staying up late, eating unhealthy food, and not doing any exercise? And yet this is exactly what a lot of students do to prepare for an exam!

Research has consistently shown that your brain doesn’t work as well when you don’t look after yourself. To study effectively - and to be at your best on exam day - you need to make sure you stay healthy.

Get enough sleep

It’s important that you get enough sleep, especially on the night before your exam.
Lack of sleep impairs memory and thinking, so if you stay up late to study, you might find that you read more but remember less! Always allow yourself at least eight hours of sleep a night.

If you have difficulty falling asleep, there are several strategies that can help. Choose a regular bedtime and stick to it - set an alarm or reminder if necessary. Before you go to bed, avoid caffeine and take a break from study to give yourself time to relax. When you do go to bed make sure you turn your phone off and put it away, so you won’t be distracted.

Do some exercise

Do you often feel your attention drifting during a long study session? Taking regular exercise helps you stay alert and attentive throughout the day. It can also help you fall asleep at night! You don’t have to do anything too long or strenuous. A brisk 10-minute walk every hour or so is fine.

Try to spend time outdoors, particularly if you’ve been suffering from headaches or sore eyes. Going outside gives your eyes a break from peering at textbooks and screens, and your body a break from sitting at a desk. Sunlight and fresh air don’t hurt either!

Eat smarter

Your brain needs food to work. Inadequate nutrition can leave you feeling exhausted and inattentive, while too much caffeine or sugar can make it hard to stay focused. For more effective study, try not using the energy drinks and the instant noodles, and have something healthy instead.

Preparing healthy food doesn’t have to take a long time. A simple salad sandwich takes a couple of minutes, maximum. Fresh fruit makes a healthy snack and doesn’t need to be prepared at all (a tub of diced fruit is also acceptable). Puffed (not popped) corn or rice cakes are a healthier alternative to potato chips.

Avoid sugary snacks and drinks - they give you a brief high followed by a long crash. Alcohol should also be avoided. Being drunk or hungover does not help you study!

Fringe benefits

Staying healthy isn’t just good for your exam performance, but also your mood and your overall wellbeing. So have a happy and healthy exam period, and try to keep the good habits up through the break!

Do you have a favourite healthy snack? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter@monashunilib

 

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27 April 2015

5 strategies to manage your group assignment

Practical strategies to manage the challenges of working in a group can spell success for your next group project or assignment... by Sebastian Borutta


http://pixabay.com/en/startup-meeting-brainstorming-594091/
Do you dread working on a group assignment?  Are you sick of group members dropping off the radar, and having to carry the group across the line?  Research into attitudes towards group work among undergraduate students would suggest that you are not alone.  One study revealed that more than half of undergraduate students surveyed had a negative attitude towards group work, with around 40% stating that they would rather work alone[i].
According to the study, the most significant factors that contributed towards negative attitudes were difficulty coordinating schedules and “free riders” in the group, followed by members not contributing equally and differing grade expectations[ii].


Why have group assignments at all?

Unsurprisingly, the ability to work in a group is an increasingly important skill required by employers; therefore, students who have experience working in groups are better prepared for the collaborative nature of work in their future careers.[i]  Consequently, as a student it is useful to develop strategies to effectively work in a group setting. 


So how can we try to manage these challenges?

The following five-part plan will offer prompts to consider for when you embark on your next group task.
1.  Group formation and expectations
  • If given the choice, select group members who you can work with effectively. Friends are not necessarily the best option.
  • Develop ground rules to guide your group’s behaviour and activities.
  • Assign roles based on members’ strengths and weaknesses.
  • Ensure that all members are involved in initial planning discussions. Members who feel that their voice is heard during these discussions are less likely to disengage from the group.
  • Ensure members have compatible availability, or options to maintain regular contact with the group.
  • Set goals such as grade expectations early, and together as a group.
2.  Scheduling and meetings
  • Organise regular meeting times from the beginning of the task, including expected outcomes for each meeting.
  • Consider the advantages and disadvantages of face-to-face VS online meetings when deciding on meeting format.
  • Record decisions made, and the allocation and progress of tasks.
3.  Division of work
  • Before dividing work, ensure that the group has a clear understanding of the task, and all the associated work involved in the task’s completion.
  • Determine an equitable method of dividing work.
  • If this is difficult or not immediately obvious, share initial tasks and then divide the workload. For example, share the initial research stage of a task and then divide up the written component once you have a better idea of task expectations.
4.  Communication
  • Be polite and respectful when communicating with each other.
  • Ensure team members listen carefully, and with an open mind to each other’s suggestions.
  • Be aware of your non-verbal communication when engaging with the group.
  • When giving feedback, also focus on positive aspects rather than only negative aspects.
  • Don’t take constructive feedback personally.
5.  Dealing with conflict
  • Problems usually arise due to group dynamics or task progression.
  • If conflict arises, as a group, clearly identify the problem.
  • Consider solutions to address the problem, allowing specific and constructive discussion.
  • Focus discussion on ideas rather than individuals.
  • As a group, make necessary changes and revise initial plans.
Group work can be challenging and rewarding, both in an educational setting and in the workplace. Through planning and by anticipating and managing potential challenges, you can help your group work experience be a more positive one.

For more information on group work, or any other aspects of your approach to learning, take a look at the Library’s online resources, meet with a learning skills adviser at a drop-in session, or attend a workshop.





[i] Gottschall, H. & Garcia-Bayonas, M. (2008). Student attitudes towards group work among undergraduates in Business Administration, Education and Mathematics. Educational Research Quarterly, 32(1), 2-28.
[ii] ibid
[iii) Hansen R. (2006) Benefits and problems with student teams: Suggestions for improving team projects. The Journal of Education for Business, 82(1), 9-11.


 

 





















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11 March 2015

Get started on your writing task


You’ve been working for days, even weeks, and you still don’t have one word of your essay written. You really have worked hard but have nothing to show for it.

Fear not! All the groundwork has prepared you well, and the writing should take nowhere near as long as the preparation. Sometimes just sitting down and starting to type is the toughest hurdle to clear. The steps in this blog entry will help you fly over it, leaving it far behind you! .... by Damian Gleeson, Learning Skills Adviser.


Have you fully analysed the topic?

If you don’t analyse it fully, you may not avail yourself of all marks on offer. Essay topics always have the same key ingredients: direction words that tell you what to do, topic words and limiting words that set the required scope. Be very clear that you understand what your tutor requires from you. There are several possible genres that might form part of your writing assessment. Be sure that you know what each genre entails. The Library’s Language and Learning Online is a useful resource to guide you. Several faculties at Monash have their own style guides, like BusEco’s Q Manual and IT’s Style Guide. Check your unit guide and Moodle sites for further information.

Have you done your research?


This does not mean using Google. Anyone can do that. Monash University spends millions on subscriptions to databases and journals, and it is your privilege as a Monash student to use them. So use them! Library Guides are a good starting point for finding discipline-specific databases and journals. Also, don’t forget your lecture and tutorial notes and required/recommended weekly reading. When you start writing you’ll probably find you’ll need to go back and research some aspects of your topic more. This is normal and to be expected. It means you are becoming suitably focused on key aspects that require rigour. Good for you!

Make a plan, Stan. Then use it to structure your work, Bjork.

An unplanned essay is potentially a recipe for disaster. As a bare minimum, note your academic position/thesis and the subject of each body paragraph. This should assist you in maintaining a clear, structured response to the assignment question. Remember that each paragraph should consist of one idea that is explained in detail, supported by evidence and examples and linked back to the topic in order to prove its relevance. To do this in 1 - 3 sentences is impossible. If your paragraph is longer than a page, there is probably more than one main idea or there is too much detail. Don't forget a clear introduction that
  • provides a general intro to the topic
  • tells your reader about your particular focus
  • offers a thesis statement indicating your academic position
  • previews your work’s structure, showing how you intend to achieve your stated goal.
A conclusion is also necessary, summarising what you achieved and how you achieved it in your assignment, as well as providing a big picture statement of what it all means in the wider context.

Ready? Set? Write!

There are countless excuses to stop you from sitting down and typing your assignment. None of them is likely to justify your inertia. Once you actually start writing, you should find all that research, reading, planning and thinking has put you in a position where the flow quickly becomes a torrent. Get it all out of you as fast as you can! You can edit and proofread it all later. Go!

You may have doubts about whether your work is at the level your tutor expects or not. This may be because you are new to university, the first in your family or among your friends to undertake tertiary study, or you are returning to study after a long break. Fear not! Librarians and Learning Skills Advisers work at your library’s Research and Learning Point for a few hours a day at most branches. At drop ins they can provide tips, advice and feedback on all the research and academic work you need to do. There is no need for an appointment and you’ll be seen on a first-come, first-served basis.


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Welcome to the Monash University Library blog. Whether you are engaged in learning, teaching or research activities, the Library and its range of programs, activities and resources will contribute to your success. Here you will find useful information, ideas, tips and inspiration. Your comments on any of the articles are welcome.

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