Study Skills & Information
1. Know Your Study Style –
Every person thinks and learns differently. Some students are most alert and awake in the morning while others find evenings their most productive study time. Some will learn best by discussing their readings with classmates while others will find quite reflection and journaling on readings more effective for them. Some students need some background noise to focus on their readings and other students require total silence in order to study. As you begin a new course reflect on what has worked well for you in the past. If you are unsure, try out several options until you settle on an approach that works well for you. Make sure that whatever you learn about your study style, you incorporate that into your study habits. If you know you work best in the mornings, adjust your schedule to allow you to work on your assignments in the mornings. If you need group interaction, find other students for whom that is also a helpful study style. Keep in mind that as your life and topics of study change, your study style may change as well. The beginning of a term is a good time to reflect on whether your current study habits are still serving you well or whether they need adjustment.
2. Know the Specific Needs of Your Module –
Some modules will require different study approaches. Some modules will be heavily focused on completing assigned readings. For these, strategies for remaining engaged and inquisitive while reading will be important. For other modules memorization of key concepts will be significant. For these modules regular review is an important strategy. Language courses will require regular (even daily) practice in order to gain confidence and proficiency. If you are unsure about what approaches are best suited to your module, speak with your lecturer.
3. Dedicate Regular Time –
Whether your study is morning or evening, group or solitary, reading or review, you will need to dedicate regular time to study for each module. The best learning happens progressively and regularly over the course of a term. Waiting until just before an assignment is due or an exam is being given will decrease the effectiveness of your study. Working steadily and regularly over the course of the term allows you to feel in control of your study schedule and gives you time to work ahead, pursue questions of particular interest, and review gradually and without panic.
4. Read Actively –
Many of your courses in theological education will require significant amounts of reading. Rather than simply treating these readings as an exercise in absorbing information, treat them as conversations with an expert author. Read withpencil in hand. Along the way note questions you have for the author. Read with these questions in mind and seek answers for them. Many students will also find it helpful to discuss their readings with their classmates. You might find it useful to discuss the questions the reading raised for you, or to see how much of the material you are able to recall for your classmates without the aid of your book.
5. Review Often –
You will have many pages of notes and these will build over the course of the term. These will include the notes you take during lectures as well as those things you note while reading or discussing the readings with your classmates. Make a regular practice of reading over these notes beginning early in the term. Regular reading reinforces the material and will help you integrate the learning you have already done with those topics you are encountering later in the term.
6. Allow “Steeping” Time –
Just as a good pot of tea needs time in order to reach its full strength, your ideas need time to gain clarity and focus in your mind. If a module has a research paper or seminar presentation attached to it, choose your topic early in the module and begin reading on it a little at a time. As the semester progresses jot notes to yourself as you have ideas related to your topic. You may be surprised when these ideas come to you. You will want to always keep a pencil and paper handy for noting ideas. Good theological thinking takes time and integration. Allow for this integration by beginning your projects early and reflecting on them periodically throughout the term.
Where to Go for Help:
1. Raise specific concerns with your lecturer early in the module. He or she may have specific suggestions for you related to your particular needs and the content of the module.
2. Make use of the resources available to Trinity students through the learning services office. Information about these services is available on their website: www.tcd.ie/CAPSL/learning_development/index.php .