Study Skills on Access to HE: How was it for you?

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jimmy_looks_2ice
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Hi

My college recently requested feedback for their Access course from this year's students. I gave praise where I felt it was due, but chief among my criticisms was Study Skills (SS), or, more specifically, SS assignments. I'm curious what other people thought about this subject on their course.

Some of the things covered in class were useful, but I found the SS assignments (we had 5 - 1 per unit, each worth 3 ungraded credits) largely a waste of time. One exception was our second SS assignment, which was a piece of reflective writing on the seminar we had delivered to the class; this was genuinely beneficial. Most of the rest of the assignments involved doing things that were supposed to be helpful but were actually a hindrance - submitting drafts of essays, timetables of revision, essay plans, and a seemingly endless array of reflective writing pieces. (It almost got to the point where I thought I might have to reflect on the pen I used in my written exams :ahhhhh: )

I felt it was all too much work for too little - I didn't get much out of it, other than the 3 credits per assignment. I also resented having to 'justify' my time to my tutor, since that seems to fly in the face of the general principle of the Access course: preparing adults for independent study. I’d rather I manage my time, and tutors focus on the quality (or not) of my graded academic work.

I've had some follow-up with my tutor and I know she's shown one of the APT moderators my comments. I believe they acknowledged my points, but ultimately, the principle issue from their perspective is making sure that everyone who takes the Access course, regardless of their background, covers what they consider is necessary prep for uni. So I know I'm not going to change anything, but I'm just wondering if others had to do the same, and if so, did anyone find these kind of things useful?
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magnitudezero
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Yeah, I found study skills to largely be a waste of time, the only piece I enjoyed doing was the research assignment because we could research any topic and write about it. Even that wasn't really useful as a study skills tool, because we'd been researching set assignments all year.

One of the things that was frustrating though is we got some of it right at the end of the year, overall I'd say the course was well organised, except for this one assignment about tracking your progress of applying to uni, which should have been given at the start of the year rather in May, when I'd thrown a lot of the materials out (i.e pamphlets from various unis I'd applied to etc).

I think the fact that we get through the access course in itself and all applied to uni anyway covered all the criteria laid down in the studies skills assignments. Thankfully though, because we were only in 3 hours a week no time was wasted covering studies skills, it was 100% focused on covering the core material.

But having said that, if I was a day student in 20+ hours a week or however long that was, I don't think I'd be too bothered doing some studies skills, as long as it didn't detract from doing the main stuff.
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chazmay03
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Hi,

Sorry to high jack your post I just thought you may be able to help me find out what google cannot!
I'm starting the access course in September, the tutor said we won't be eligible to apply for a maintenance grant but is that also true for the maintenance loan? I don't work, have two young boys with nursery and school commitments so will be driving left, right and centre for a year so surely I should be able to apply for something? My husband works but things are tight as it is.

Thanks
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Katinkia
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There's only the access to learning fund for mature students doing college courses. That was about £360 for the year. There is no other funding till uni.
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bibliboo
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The very first lesson we did was study skills and it was about note taking and was incredibly dull. It was mainly the first few lessons that were useful really, e.g. lessons on Harvard referencing, UCAS applications and how to break assignment questions down.
After that, not even the tutor was bothered about it (luckily), and we mainly focused on finishing assignments, with the tutor available to help us. Many didn't bother turning up for it.

The assignments for it were not very demanding the presentation one with feedback from classmates was very helpful, the rest were pointless, mainly about how to break questions down, and sources of reference. The most annoying one was a research assignment where we had to design and complete 30 questionnaires and analyse the answers and write a report on it. I guess that one showed the basics of report writing, which we may need to know about at university but a very big assignment for an ungraded module.
Overall we were lucky that the tutors were on the same wavelength as us in telling us not to panic about it and being generous with the deadlines for it. The other study skills assignments were barely noticeable.

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MaseratiJay
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Study skills was a joke but to be honest it wasn't hard getting good grades in it and they add towards the grades needed for Uni so in that respect I didn't care because for me it was probably more time consuming and faffing around and felt pointless but it was an 'easier' subject compared to the others.

The other modules I'd have to do over several days but study skills work could be done in a matter of hours, then I could focus on the more 'important' things ,however it was still annoying.
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MissENA
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Really for my class study skills was automatic pass. I think it is unfair that some colleges are grading study skills.

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magnitudezero
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(Original post by MaseratiJay)
x
Did your course have less than 45 credits in the core subjects or something?
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MissENA
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60 credits. The subjects were biology, psychology, nursing studies (sociology and history) and study skills. Each had 5 assignments which were worth 3 credits, however, study skills was automatic pass.


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magnitudezero
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Ah I was asking about Maserati, we had 60 credits also but only 45 were core subjects (biology and chemistry, 24 from biology, 21 from chemistry), the rest came from the study skills. Universities seemed to have only wanted 45 credits with a marked grade anyway it seems.
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bibliboo
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Study skills definitely should not be graded ( even the larger assignment I had to do) as universities do not care about study skills grades.

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carlaraptor
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I found most of it quite helpful - particularly referencing and writing a dissertation. Most of my lessons in the last 4 or 5 months in the course were self-study which was helpful. It was time consuming admittedly, but I think it will be useful to have practiced things like that before university. I didn't like some of the earlier lessons - like having a tour around the library and learning about the Dewey system, but I expect that might have been useful for other students.
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Amy. J S
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This is the only aspect of the Access Course I am not looking forward to for Sepetember; and with good reason by the general vibe given by Access students. I've read around that the assignments which involve Harvard Referencing, UCAS applications etc are the most valuable, and I think this will be the same case for me. But having done study skills on a course prior to the Access, I know how dull they can be; AIMS Awards that I "studied" were Personal Development and Empolyability- fortunately my tutor was very laid-back about this, and when I finished these lessons in November, I was allowed that time off from my timetable. I don't think this same attitude will be replicated this year, though. I'm just going to go with an open mind!
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bibliboo
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(Original post by Amy. J S)
This is the only aspect of the Access Course I am not looking forward to for Sepetember; and with good reason by the general vibe given by Access students. I've read around that the assignments which involve Harvard Referencing, UCAS applications etc are the most valuable, and I think this will be the same case for me. But having done study skills on a course prior to the Access, I know how dull they can be; AIMS Awards that I "studied" were Personal Development and Empolyability- fortunately my tutor was very laid-back about this, and when I finished these lessons in November, I was allowed that time off from my timetable. I don't think this same attitude will be replicated this year, though. I'm just going to go with an open mind!
In my experience of it, I'd say you'd hardly notice you are doing it to be honest. After the first few weeks they become free study lessons, when most of the class skive off.
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bubaloo
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I found Study Skills pretty useless apart from the referencing stuff. And to be honest I used the 3 hours a week to do my other work.. and then I did all the units, minus presentation skills, in one day after I'd finished all my academic work. It just wasn't exciting to me at all, but I already had a good idea of how to do essays etc. I think it was pretty useful for some of the people who had been out of education for a while.

Oh, and I don't really think of the research project as Study Skills as it wasn't pass or fail.. but I really enjoyed that actually.
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Amy. J S
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(Original post by bibliboo)
In my experience of it, I'd say you'd hardly notice you are doing it to be honest. After the first few weeks they become free study lessons, when most of the class skive off.
It was the same for this year that had just gone, after a certain period of time most students didn't turn up or turned up and used that time to relax and use the internet; study skills become IT based from about October onwards. I think though the attendance and lacklustre attitude was exacerbated by our Tutor- she was very laid-back, quite unprofessional actually, and there were times when I hadn't been in contact with her for 8+ weeks. Baring in mind, I and the rest of the group were supposed to meet up regularly. I think this is a rare case really, and her attitude were taken in one of two ways; you either enjoyed the fact she didn't hassle you or it got on your nerves the little contact you recieved.
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jimmy_looks_2ice
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Thank you to everyone who's replied so far. It's great that people are interested in commenting. I know I'm basically using this thread to rant about something that's unlikely to change (and even if it does, it's too late for me), but given the fact that so many people seem to dislike and not value a lot of SS, I wonder why it couldn't be changed. Not removed, but improved.

(Original post by magnitudezero)
the only piece I enjoyed doing was the research assignment because we could research any topic and write about it. Even that wasn't really useful as a study skills tool, because we'd been researching set assignments all year.

I think the fact that we get through the access course in itself and all applied to uni anyway covered all the criteria laid down in the studies skills assignments. Thankfully though, because we were only in 3 hours a week no time was wasted covering studies skills, it was 100% focused on covering the core material.But having said that, if I was a day student in 20+ hours a week or however long that was, I don't think I'd be too bothered doing some studies skills, as long as it didn't detract from doing the main stuff.
I agree. I enjoyed the seminar unit we did for SS, but that was because it involved researching a topic of my choice (which I found fascinating). Also, as you say, you cover everything you need to (research skills etc.) by virtue of doing the graded assignments anyway, so why isolate these aspects and repeat them over and over again in SS?

I disagree with your last point, however. I was doing it f/t during the day, and I still resented the time involved! It would've been ok if it'd just been a couple of hours per week, but ours had a morning and half an afternoon allocated to it each week, which, when combined with my travel time, meant I spent (lost) something like 9 hours per week on SS.


Yes. If SS assignments helped you with the academic subject assignments, perhaps they'd be worthwhile. But I just found them to be a completely separate entity and they didn't help with the real assignments, they just took my time and focus off them!

(Original post by bibliboo)
Study skills definitely should not be graded ( even the larger assignment I had to do) as universities do not care about study skills grades.Posted from TSR Mobile
My understanding is that all UK Access courses currently only have 45 graded credits, and 15 ungraded credits, and SS fits into the latter, or at least that's how it is for APT Access. I realise, though, that there are variations in how colleges distribute those credits among the assignments they set.

(Original post by bubaloo)
I found Study Skills pretty useless apart from the referencing stuff. And to be honest I used the 3 hours a week to do my other work.. and then I did all the units, minus presentation skills, in one day after I'd finished all my academic work. It just wasn't exciting to me at all, but I already had a good idea of how to do essays etc. I think it was pretty useful for some of the people who had been out of education for a while.Oh, and I don't really think of the research project as Study Skills as it wasn't pass or fail.. but I really enjoyed that actually.
I admit that for some people, SS assignments might be really helpful. It was just that it was one of those things that, even though the assignments were not remotely difficult to do, I still found myself trying to do it really well. I just couldn't stop myself! And that only made me even more :angry: about it.

(Original post by Amy. J S)
It was the same for this year that had just gone, after a certain period of time most students didn't turn up or turned up and used that time to relax and use the internet; study skills become IT based from about October onwards. I think though the attendance and lacklustre attitude was exacerbated by our Tutor- she was very laid-back, quite unprofessional actually, and there were times when I hadn't been in contact with her for 8+ weeks. Baring in mind, I and the rest of the group were supposed to meet up regularly. I think this is a rare case really, and her attitude were taken in one of two ways; you either enjoyed the fact she didn't hassle you or it got on your nerves the little contact you recieved.
With the attendance, it was one of those situations where our tutor talked in a carefully constructed code, which more or less implied it was up to you if you bothered coming in. But there was a formal register, so I wanted to make sure I maintained a good attendance record, even though I could've stayed home on a lot of study skills days and not missed out on an awful lot.

With the assignments, it was one of those situations where you suspect the tutor doesn't really believe what they are saying (when they're going on about how you need to do this and that for the assignment, and doing this and that will help you with that and this, blah, blah, blah...) and you know you don't believe it, and you suspect they also know that you don't believe it, but neither side can break the unspoken and unwritten agreement that you are both bound up in the same set of lies and you mustn't actually say anything that makes it too apparent that this is the case!
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gemmam
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(Original post by chazmay03)
Hi,

Sorry to high jack your post I just thought you may be able to help me find out what google cannot!
I'm starting the access course in September, the tutor said we won't be eligible to apply for a maintenance grant but is that also true for the maintenance loan? I don't work, have two young boys with nursery and school commitments so will be driving left, right and centre for a year so surely I should be able to apply for something? My husband works but things are tight as it is.

Thanks
You might be able to get a bursary: https://www.gov.uk/advanced-learning...n-bursary-fund
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MaseratiJay
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(Original post by magnitudezero)
Did your course have less than 45 credits in the core subjects or something?
No it did not, it was the standard 45 at Level 3 and 15 at Level 2
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magnitudezero
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(Original post by MaseratiJay)
No it did not, it was the standard 45 at Level 3 and 15 at Level 2
Ah, it was just a bit misleading the way you said they counted to your grades needed for uni, thought you meant that as part of a typical 45 credit offer that you could make some of it up with study skills :P
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