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Student Success Toolkit

Most students starting their UO careers benefit from some guidance in developing the skills they will need to succeed at the university. Students starting in Fall 2020, amid the uncertainty and physical disconnection inherent in online, remote, and even face-to-face but physically-distanced courses will need such guidance even more. Time devoted to developing study skills, time management strategies, planning, reflection, and knowledge of the support resources available to students will be well spent. We share the assignments and activities in this collection in the hope that they will be useful for instructors wanting to foster students’ abilities in these areas.

The assignments and activities presented are organized by overall topic and available as modules directly uploadable to Canvas. Descriptions of the modules and the specific materials they contain are below. Faculty should feel free to choose specific assignments from each module; they need not be used as complete packages.  We urge faculty to modify the assignments to fit the specific context of their own courses.  As presented, many retain references to the courses for which they were originally developed.

In addition to using some of the materials presented here, we suggest incorporating a Welcome module into your Canvas course to help orient students and start the process of building class community.  Organizing your Canvas site with an eye to clarity and consistency will also be helpful.

 

 

Get Module: Study Skills and Planning

Download Module: Study Skills and Planning

Downloaded file should appear in your Downloads folder.

Instructions for uploading to Canvas:

1. Select “Import Course Content” (either on the right or bottom of your window)

2. Under “Import Content,” as the Content Type, select “Canvas Course Export Package”

3. Choose File and navigate to the file (Study Skills and Planning Module.imscc)

4. Select “All Content”

5. There are no due dates yet so no need to select “Adjust events and due dates”

6. Click Import and the module package and assignments will all load into your course.

Study Skills and Planning

The assignments in this module present students with structured opportunities to consider how they spend and manage their time, learn about study strategies supported by research, consider their goals, and make plans that align with what they have learned. See below for a description of each assignment in the module. Click the button at left to get a file containing the Study Skills and Planning module, then follow the directions to upload it directly into your course Canvas site.

Activity Log.  Students record all their activities for three days, then assess how they could spend their time more effectively. The assignment provides an Excel spreadsheet for recording activities, but many online alternatives exist. Submission: None, but a short follow-up class discussion is recommended.

Goals and Planning.  Students reflect on and record their goals for their time at UO, then make a shorter-term study plan. Submission: Screen shot or photo of completed planner.

Class Reflection. Students reflect on the structure and content of a class session and how they engaged in it. The figure below shows the PowerPoint form that guides the reflection. Submission: The completed PowerPoint form or a photo of it.

Getting the Most Out of Your Readings. Students search for a credible source presenting a method for engaging with challenging reading materials. They answer questions about the source and the method, then try applying the method in one of their classes. Submission: Text entry of answers to questions.

Studying Effectively. Students watch a video and read an article about research-supported study strategies, answer questions about which strategies are most effective, and make a plan for incorporating the strategies into their own study plans. Submission: Multiple choice Canvas quiz.

Examining Returned Tests. Students determine why they lost credit on individual questions on a recently-returned test and draw conclusions about what to work on for next time. Assignment includes an Excel Spreadsheet (shown below) for recording the reason for each missed question, with the possible reasons grouped into overarching categories such as Insufficient Information and Test Savvy. Submission: Word document listing areas of need and plans for improvement.

Reflecting on Classes and University Life

The assignments in this module promote student metacognition and planning about various aspects of their performance in classes and their lives at the university. See below for a description of each assignment in the module. Click the button at right to get a file containing the Reflecting on Classes and University Life module, then follow the directions to upload it directly into your course Canvas site.

What Do You Value? Students read a list of values and activities and select the two or three that are most important to them.  Then they write a paragraph or two explaining why.  Values affirmation activities like this one have been shown to reduce achievement gaps and improve students’ sense of belonging. (1) The effects decrease or disappear if students know the reasons behind the assignment so it is important to use care when talking about the assignment with students. Submission: Canvas quiz with multiple choice and written parts.

Dear New Student Letter. At the end of the term, students reflect on what they have learned about how to succeed in one of their courses and the university overall, then write an advice letter to next year’s students. Submission: Written text submission to Canvas. (Possible: modify to include submission of video or voice files.)

Weekly Reflections. The writing prompts listed below ask students to generate short reflective pieces about various aspects of their course performance and behaviors and overall adjustment to life at the university. It will be necessary to modify these prompts to fit the particular circumstances of your course and the term overall.  Submission: Written text submission to Canvas. (Possible: modify to invite students to submit video or voice files.)

Reflection 1: The First Week
  • What surprised you about your first week at UO?
  • What was best about your first week at UO? What concrete steps can you take to build on this good experience?
  • What was hardest about your first week at UO? What concrete steps can you take to improve the situation?
Reflection 2: Class Behaviors
  • How have you prepared for and participated in your classes this week? Did you do readings that were assigned or preview the content in the textbook? Did you review your notes and identify the most important points (or alternatively the least clear points) from the previous day or week? In class, did you have all the materials you needed? Did you pay attention and take notes? Did you make a good faith effort to participate in small-group activities? Did you make an effort to participate in class discussions, even if doing so makes you a bit uncomfortable? Did you leave your electronic devices stowed away unless your instructor asked you to use them for something?
Reflection 3: The Social Situation
  • Who are your friends so far here at UO? How are they similar to you and how are they different? Do you support each other academically, or do your interactions  have a different foundation? It usually takes time and/or effort to form deep friendships. Do you want to take active steps to make more or closer friends, or are you content with the way things are? If yes, list a few concrete steps you will take.
Reflection 4: Feedback and Strategies for Success
  • Describe a situation from your past where you initially found something difficult and didn’t do well, but where you eventually “got it.”  What helped you improve?  How does this apply to your current situation?
  • Why do your instructors provide written or oral feedback on your work?  How do you use that feedback?
  • Unrelatedly, consider how well you feel you know the material to be covered on any upcoming midterm exams.  How have you done on any assignments or quizzes so far?  What are you doing to study?  Then predict your score for each of the exams and write it down here.
Reflection 5: Thinking About Learning
  • What are the important pieces of knowledge you are acquiring in your linked classes? Are the classes all about knowing facts? Are they more about developing skills (like writing, constructing arguments, thinking critcally or creatively, applying math to other disciplines, etc) and applying them? A blend? What are those important pieces of knowledge and skills? How are they similar and different in the two linked classes you are taking? How will this be useful for you in your other classes and in your life outside school?
  • What key choices do instructors, peers, and you yourself make to aid your learning during class?
  • Now that you have taken your midterm exams but presumably don’t have your scores back yet, look back on your experiences during the tests.  Do you feel confident about your answers to the questions?  Make predictions of the score you earned on each of your midterms.  How do these predictions compare to the ones you made last week?
Reflection 6: Exam Performance
  • What score do you think you got on the CH 221 exam? How did you prepare for the CH 221 exam? What parts of your preparation do you think made a positive difference for you? What parts of your preparation should you keep doing, what should you stop, and what should you start doing so you can learn the material better?
  • Have you had a math exam yet?  If yes, how did it go?  Answer the questions from prompt #1 for the math exam.
  • Chemistry exams are difficult.  In a large class like CH 221, there are always people who fail tests, or at least get scores they consider shockingly low in comparison to what they were accustomed to in high school.  Imagine that one of your friends finds themselves in this situation and is questioning whether they belong in college.  What could you say to help them get through this?  Is that person the only one feeling this way?  Is it normal to experience setbacks as you learn to navigate a new system?  Is doing poorly on one test really a signal that one is doomed to failure and “doesn’t belong here”?  Based on what we have learned so far in this class, what advice do you have for them going forward in terms of learning strategies and possible sources of help?
  •  
Reflection 7: Free Choice!
  • Free choice!  Write about something that’s on your mind this week; identify a problem, success, or other issue and analyze it in a way that is helpful for you.
Reflection 8: Thinking about Thanksgiving

Are you going home or otherwise seeing family for Thanksgiving this year?

  • If yes, what are you most looking forward to? You’ve been managing your own schedule, eating habits, etc for the last 8 weeks. What issues do you think might arise as you see your family and friends again?
  • If no, will you miss your family? If you’re staying on campus, have you registered to remain in the residence halls? (https://housing.uoregon.edu/thanksgiving-break). The dining halls and many nearby restaurants will be closed on Thanksgiving and have limited hours the rest of the break. Do you have a plan for food on Thanksgiving? Who will you spend time with and what will you do in general?
Reflection 9: Looking Back and Looking Ahead
  • Overall, how do you feel about your first term at UO? Identify one thing that you are happy about/satisfied with. What did you do to bring about that situation, and how can you transfer your success to next term? Identify one thing you could improve on. Brainstorm three things you could do to improve the situation for next term
Get Module: Reflecting on Classes and University Life

Download Module: Reflecting on Classes and University Life

Downloaded file should appear in your Downloads folder.

Instructions for uploading:

1. Select “Import Course Content” (either on the right or bottom of your window)

2. Under “Import Content,” as the Content Type, select “Canvas Course Export Package”

3. Choose File and navigate to the file (Reflecting on Classes and University Life.imscc)

4. Select “All Content”

5. There are no due dates yet so no need to select “Adjust events and due dates”

6. Click Import and the module package and assignments will all load into your course.

Get Module: Knowing and Using Campus Resources

Download Module: Knowing and Using Campus Resources

Downloaded file should appear in your Downloads folder.

Instructions for uploading into Canvas:

1. Select “Import Course Content” (either on the right or bottom of your window)

2. Under “Import Content,” as the Content Type, select “Canvas Course Export Package”

3. Choose File and navigate to the file (campus resources.imscc)

4. Select “All Content”

5. There are no due dates yet so no need to select “Adjust events and due dates”

6. Click Import and the module package and assignments will all load into your course.

Knowing and Using Campus Resources

Assignments in this module help students develop knowledge and agency for using the resources available to them on campus, including faculty office hours, tutoring, mental and physical health resources, and more. See below for a description of each assignment in the module. Click the button at left to get a file containing the Knowing and Using Campus Resources module, then follow the directions to upload it directly into your course Canvas site.

The Office Hours Challenge. A sheet with guiding questions helps the student to plan a visit to a professor’s office hours.  After the visit, another sheet helps the student reflect on the visit and generate ideas for dealing with any challenges associated with it in order to make the next visit easier. Submission: Completed worksheet files submitted via Canvas.

Campus Resources Scavenger Hunt. The assignment contains a list of various campus support resources.  Students choose resources from the list and visit their physical locations on campus, taking selfies of themselves while there. This assignment will need modification to fit your course and the circumstances of the term. Submission: Photos of students at the support locations they visit.