Submitted by Dr. Kimberly Ference
Six P1 pharmacy students presented a group presentation on strategies to improve learning and studying to all interested students on Tuesday night. Amanda Albright, Timothy Hendershot, Auri Glucksnis, Morgan Casciole, Dani Francisko and Jeffrey Eager-Heffner presented together for their Foundations of Pharmacy course.
The presentation focused on how students could use the VARK system of learning to study more effectively.
Dr. Kimberly Ference, associate professor of pharmacy, alongside Dr. Judith Delika, chairperson of the department of pharmacy practice, both played a role in overseeing the class and presentation of the P1 students.
“Students often comment about the difficulty of transitioning from high school to college as it relates to productive study habits. During the VARK presentation, the student pharmacists did a great job highlighting the importance of effective studying strategies, including knowing personal learning preferences and how to adapt to different learning environments,” Ference said.
“VARK is a learning approach that helps students customize how they want to learn. It is an acronym that stands for visual, learning through looking, auditory learning through hearing, learning through reading and kinesthetics, which is learning through doing things and touching,” Albright said.
Students in attendance could take a questionnaire before the presentation to which categories apply to them. Presenters then broke down study tactics for each style of learning, as well as general study tips that could benefit different learning styles
“The first one is self-examination, it is pretty much just making a pre-test and see what you are lacking in. Once you take it and check your results, see what you are still lacking on. Then, information generation; what this means is instead of immediately Googling the word, try to use context clues to figure out the meaning. Finally, we have after class reflection. Fifteen to 20 minutes after class, review your notes every day. What this will do is let you go to your professor as soon as you have a question instead of everyone swarming the professor the day before the exam,” Albright said.
After looking at the results of the VARK system’s questionnaire, students can figure out the ways they best learn and use the study methods the P1 pharmacy students presented to better prepare.
Outside of the VARK system, students can study through the writing center or student tutors like Cordell Siggins. Siggins, a sophomore physics and math major who tutors for general physics 1 and 2.
“To me, studying is rehearsal and practice of concepts and problems, which is exactly what tutoring does. Unfortunately, not a lot of time goes towards talking about study habits unless they do not understand the concept. Then we discuss different strategies to rehearse information in order for them to grasp the topics they do not understand,” said Siggins.
Hunter Bowman, junior electrical engineering and physics major, tutors classes including general physics 1 and 2, engineering physics 1 and 2, modern physics, electrical circuits and devices, digital devices and electrical measurements lab.
“I do not view tutoring as studying. If anything I see it as a review, but I see it mainly as a position to give students a source to help learn the material that will follow them through their career. I try to talk with them frequently about their studying habits because it is a core part of passing a class. Everyone has their own way of studying and it’s part of my job to help them,” said Bowman
Despite their difference in whether tutoring is a form of studying, both Siggins and Bowman expressed that tutoring is a useful tool for students in general.
Outside of their tutoring, Siggins and Bowman are still students who have had to develop their own study methods.
“Some of the best ways I study for midterms and finals are in a group that is taking the course. For me, it works to have people around when you do practice problems, go over notes or are just talking about the material, because it can help you solidify your understanding of it while helping others. I also ask the professor what the material is heavily based on, what problems from class would be good to review and I make note cards,” said Bowman.
“Getting together with friends to break down any practice problems or concepts we have to study for the final is definitely my preferred method. Other than that it is just individual rehearsal on my part; reading over notes and practice problems,” said Siggins.
To be able to use tutoring to its full potential students need to be open to the idea of tutoring, seek out help and know how to come into contact with a tutor.
“I definitely overhear a lot of students struggling with their classes but I do not see enough of those people in tutoring sessions and the writing center. Perhaps they just prefer friend study groups. I feel like the whole system for tutoring and other aid offered by the university should be better advertised. Even when I wanted to get some tutoring in previous semesters, I never really knew where or when the tutoring sessions took place,” said Siggins.
“For most students on campus, they feel as though asking a professor or a TA a question makes them weak or feel dumb. I have seen many students that are struggling not come to tutoring because they feel like they have to do it on their own or don’t want to be seen at tutoring. Yet some of the most successful students I know use every resource they can to stay on top of the material,” said Bowman.
Students interested in peer tutoring should contact Dr. Alberto Prado, the academic support coordinator, or visit the university’s website and schedule a tutoring session online. The campus offers peer tutoring, small group tutoring, academic counseling and coaching.
In addition, students can seek help with their writing through the writing center located on the bottom floor of the Farley Library in the Alden Learning Commons.
Students can visit the writing center’s page on the university website to submit papers to be looked over, learn foundations of writing they may need a refresher on, or simply learn more information about the writing center as a whole.