Successful Study in Civil Engineering
Variety of learning opportunities
Every student forms part of the academic learning community which comprises of yourself, your student peers, your tutors and lecturers, and the engineering professional at large. Each part of this team makes an essential contribution to the learning process.
Use a variety of different learning opportunities. Avoid relying on one method of learning alone - eg going to lectures only is not as effective as also including group discussion and practice problems in your study.
The learning pyramid shows how active involvement will improve content retention and improve your understanding.
- Formal, structured classes such as lectures, tutorials and laboratory sessions is a simple way in which information can be presented to students. Other activities are required to reinforce concepts and aid understanding.
- Discussion and working with your student colleagues, either face-to-face or in on-line discussions, benefits all members of the group who contribute positively.
- Self study and review of notes and text books, practice problems, both before and after lectures, will improve your retention.
- Extra research, such as searching the internet, library journal databases and additional resources will often help you solve those tricky problems or present different viewpoints to help you form your own informed views.
Interact and Network with Other Students
- Successful students develop friendships and support groups with their classmates. You should exchange phone numbers or emails so you can get together to study or to get missed assignments and lecture notes.
- Be open to learning from other students. For example, when a classmate receives an "HD" assignment, ask to see it. This will give you an example of what the lecturer is looking for and you can apply this knowledge to future assignments or tests. There is nothing wrong with working together on assignments, but take care not to copy - not should you let another student copy.
- Don't forget to socialise and have a good time!
- Lecturers assume that the students will come to their classes and they plan the semester's work accordingly. Develop a positive relationship with your lecturer. Talk to your lecturer if an absence is unavoidable.
- Printed notes or lecture recordings are good supplements to lectures, but generally do not replace the live lecture experience.
- Be actively involved: Read any notes beforehand, and review the content afterwards. Attend all your classes - there is a demonstrated link between marks and attendance. Take notes, participate in class discussions, and ask questions. Often other students in the class have the same questions in mind and are grateful for the clarification. You should attempt to answer questions posed by your instructor, even if your answer is uncertain. You should be polite and respectful and pay attention to the discussions and questions of others. Pay attention to what the lecturer says - not just what he/she writes on the board - practice taking notes from the verbal comments of the lecturer.
- Be on time: The first few minutes of class is often used to conduct "class business." Questions are answered, assignments are explained, and a quick review of the last class and a general outline of the day's class work and expectations may be given.
Tutorials and Problems
- Attempt some tutorial problems imediately after covering the topic in class, and also before the tutorial.
- Be brave and be bold. Don't be afraid to answer a question in class. The tutor will welcome your contribution.
- There is no such thing as a "stupid question". The teaching staff want to use the tutorials to help you understand problems.
- Avoid attempting problems with the answers in front of you - keep any solutions "locked away" until you really need them - you will not have them in the exam.
- Lab classes will help you visualise the theory and put it into practice.
- Take lab sessions seriously by doing any required pre-work, paying attention to the results and observations during the experiment, and relating the subsequent calculations and conclusions to the theory discussed in class.
- Our units flow from one to another. For example the concepts covered in Structural Mechanics are essential for Steel and Concrete Structures.
- Recognise that after finishing one unit, you will reinforce and use these skills the later down the track. Even the basic skills learnt at high school are important.
- Know yourself and improve your professional skills. Knowing your own weaknesses and taking active steps to improve them is the most important skill you can have.
- Work hard and seek help from the available resources. The University of Sydney has a number of support services created to help students succeed. Take advantage of the Student Support Services that have programs designed to help you achieve success.
- Time management is creating and following a schedule. This allows you to organise and prioritise your study time within the framework of school, family, work, and other responsibilities. Scheduling should be both long term and short term.
- Long Term/Semester Scheduling: Read the syllabus for each class. Using a calendar, look ahead and organise all your course assignments. Note all test dates and large assignment due dates.
- Short Term/Weekly Scheduling: When you create your weekly calendar, include fixed commitments such as classes, work, appointments, meals, family responsibilities, and sleeping. Schedule study and homework around these fixed commitments. Learning should be a priority, but one should also allow enough time for sleep, healthy eating habits, and leisure activities. The university expects a student to spend about two hours a week in outside study to every hour spent in the classroom, but one should prioritise his/her assignments. As often as possible, a student should schedule study time at the same time every day. Having regular study time will help the student develop a "study habit." Take advantage of the "waiting time" or "dead time" we experience each day, such as long breaks between classes or on the train.
Do your own research now
Adapted from The University of Arkansas at Little Rock - http://www.ualr.edu/success/college101/successtips.html