How to prepare for the start of a new term with UniSkills

The first of September means many things – new beginnings, goodbye summer and perhaps even a fresh academic diary. While our brilliant PGCE students have already joined us, we know there are a few of you still sat at home wondering how best you might pass the time until your own course kickstarts. From keeping up your motivation to getting your proverbial academic skills ducks lined up, here are our top 3 tips for staying ahead:

image of a notebook that says let's get started

Read up!

Not only can reading for pleasure be wonderfully relaxing, it can also improve your writing skills (Whitten et al., 2019). Think of it as an almost blissfully passive osmosis of new vocabulary and well-modelled sentence structures. Simply find something that piques your interest and your favourite chair to enjoy both wellbeing and brain-boosting benefits. Or, for those ready to delve back into their subject area, reignite your curiosity with your course reading list, ask your tutor for recommendations, or follow your nose in the depths of Discover More.

image of a pile of books

Past feedback is your friend

We understand that looking at old assignments can make you wince, conjuring up memories of late nights and even anxiety to get them finished to the best of your ability. However they are also usually bursting with useful pointers for the next time you put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard!). We recommend seeing if you can pick out just 3 aspects to focus on, which might be – for example – referencing, sentence structure, and paragraphing. If you’re unsure exactly how to improve these skills, getting in touch with our team for a 1-2-1 appointment or joining us for a UniSkills webinar is a good place to start.

image of a pile of post it notes

Hone your skills, or learn something new

The lull before term starts is also a great opportunity to brush up on any other skills which may be useful for your personal, academic or professional development. LinkedIn Learning is a fantastic resource for exploring what the digital world can offer, while the internet in general is jam-packed with organisation apps and note taking techniques. Now may also be the ideal time to check out the wealth of resources on our UniSkills web pages, which include handy guides for topics such as proofreading and presenting with impact.

image of a notebook that says "a little  space to be creative"

We hope this has left you energised and inspired to make the most of the next few weeks, remembering too that rest and relaxation is equally important. In the meantime if you have any doubts or questions in relation to your academic skills before, or during next term, the Student Engagement Team is here and happy to support you.

WHITTEN, C., LABBY, S. and SULLIVAN, S., 2019. The impact of Pleasure Reading on Academic Success. Journal of Multidisciplinary Graduate Research. 2 (1).

Grow your academic resilience with a new UniSkills toolkit!

As we navigate the new challenges Covid-19 has presented, it has been remarkable to see our students (many of who are key workers, parents, and carers) stepping up and continuing to build their academic skills. Inspired by your unwavering motivation in our 1:1s and webinars, we began to think how UniSkills could expand on our usual writing, presenting and information skills offering, to support you too with overcoming any setbacks you might encounter during your studies. 

From receiving a mark lower than you had hoped, to receiving overwhelming feedback, the new ‘Grow your academic resilience’ toolkit delves into the fascinating theory behind adopting a ‘growth’ or ‘gritty’ mindset, and how this can help you thrive at university. Discover how to set meaningful goals, create an action plan, and even reflect on your progress so far. There’s also the chance to take an interactive quiz to find out your current mindset – although be warned, the result might surprise you!

So if you’re feeling like you could do with an extra boost of confidence over the summer, or are simply determined to shift your mindset from “I can’t” to “I can” or “I can’t yet”, then mark 30 minutes in your diary to dedicate to a new, resilient you. 

screenshot of the toolkit
Click to visit the toolkit

Alternatively, book your place and join us for a live ‘Grow your academic resilience’ webinar on June 30th at 3pm, where Academic Skills Advisors Claire, Helen and Maisie can guide you through the activities and answer any questions you have in real-time. Don’t forget to let us know how you get on by sharing your thoughts or activity results with @EHULearnService, using the hashtag #GrowYourResilience. 

New Year, New UniSkills!

January is the perfect time to wipe your slate clean and set some study resolutions for the year ahead. Whether you’re a chief procrastinator or struggling to decode feedback, UniSkills have curated a selection of motivation-boosting workshops to have you back on track in no time.

Ready, set, goal!

Monday 20th January 2020

This creative session will help you visualise and set achievable academic goals

Need some motivation this January? Visualising your academic success can help inspire you to set goals and keep you motivated. Be prepared for this semester and beyond by joining us to creatively explore academic goal-setting strategies. This workshop will help you to think about how academic success might look to you, and will offer you the chance to create a visual representation of this to take away. Secure your place now.

Moodboard of images

Mindset Matters

Wednesday 22nd January 2020

Come along to this session and find out why your mindset matters to your success

Whilst success and getting things right is brilliant, we can also learn a lot from our mistakes. How we approach setbacks and failure can depend greatly on our mindset, this session will therefore provide you with tips to help foster your growth mindset and move away from fixed mindset thinking. If you want to think about why you study the way you do, how you could make changes and become a more resilient student – then this is the session for you! Secure your place now.

Focus on Feedback

Friday 24th January 2020

Join us at this drop-in session to get the most out of your assignment feedback

Your tutors provide a wealth of constructive comments and suggestions, but do you always know how you can improve your future work based on their advice? If you’re unsure, then this is the session for you. We’re here to help you make the most of your feedback, so that you can put together a plan and put it into action. All you need to do is bring along your feedback and get planning! Secure your place now.

Ready to channel your inner artist, reboot your mindset or conquer your ‘criticality’ once and for all? Book your place on the above workshops here, or speak to the Catalyst help desk team.

UniSpeaks – Our Ethos

Through UniSpeaks we are building a community of positive support where those new to presenting or nervous about speaking in front of an audience can learn strategies and techniques to develop their confidence. UniSpeaks offers an opportunity for students to develop their own style in a safe space and enjoy peer-to-peer encouragement in a welcoming environment.

To ensure that we continue to offer our students the best experience, we did some research! Public speaking comes in many guises and, for most, the road to becoming a confident presenter has been a long one. Lots of speakers who now appear confident will admit to starting out a bundle of nerves and even doubting their own abilities. With this in mind we felt it was important for us to attend some speaking events, where we could witness for ourselves how these skills are developed.

So, we began big… TED talks are well-known globally for being one of the leading public speaking platforms in the world and they are accessible to the public through independently organised TEDx events. With TEDx Manchester taking place on Sunday 3rd February 2019, it was too good an opportunity to miss! We were able to witness an array of topics, speakers and styles. From the bold and exuberant to the quietly confident, all the presenters captured our attention and inspired us in numerous ways. Having learned how the seasoned speakers engage their audience, we then moved to focus on how we could successfully facilitate a safe space for public speaking.

To do this we decided to tap into current local events with the same ethos. We spent an evening attending the brilliant Ignite Liverpool, which brings together a range of ‘creators, thinkers, innovators, makers and dreamers’ to present in front of members of the pubic in an informal and intimate setting. By attending this event we identified the value in setting up a space where students can come together and support each other without our intervention. We came away idea-poppingly inspired, not only by the incredible range of fascinating topics presented, but by the enthusiastic, supportive and nurturing environment. The event was so motivating, that we are even considered the possibility of delivering our own presentations at the next event in May!

The combination of seeing public speakers on the big stage at TEDx Manchester, and the small stage at Ignite Liverpool, helped us to really appreciate the need for a small, local Community of Practice where anyone can share their experiences, and develop their confidence alongside their peers.

It was at this point we decided to delve into the pedagogy, identifying that routinely getting likeminded people together to share their knowledge (Wenger, McDermott and Snyder, 2002) could reap benefits in terms of developing communication skills and even a bank of useful resources (Bing-You and Varaklis, 2016). We also discovered that Communities of Practice tend to function well when they’re left to simmer on their own – to grow organically as ‘a process rather than an entity that can simply be set up’ (Pyrko, Dorfler and Eden, 2017: 390). For this reason, we’ve held back on some of our usual marketing, trusting instead in growth generated through the community’s own outreach.

We are proud to be creating UniSpeaks at Edge Hill and look forward to welcoming more students to be part of this innovative new venture. If you’re feeling inspired to join us book your place here (sessions take place on the last Wednesday of every month).

BING-YOU, R. G. and VARAKLIS, K., 2016. Organizing graduate medical education programs into communities of practice. Medical Education Online. 21 (1), pp. 1-6.

PYRKO, I., DÖRFLER, V. and EDEN, C., 2017. Thinking together: What makes Communities of Practice work? Human Relations. 70 (4), pp. 389-409.

WENGER, E., MCDERMOTT, R. A. and SNYDER, W., 2002. Cultivating communities of practice: a guide to managing knowledge. Boston, Mass: Harvard Business Press.

Spotlight on… Study skills resources

Welcome to the last of our ‘Spotlight on…’ blog series! As part of #LoveYourLibrary month, our Student Advisors have been bringing light to some of Catalyst’s lesser-known fantastic features.

If you’re struggling with finding academic help resources within Catalyst, then look no further. Here, I’ve compiled a list of Palgrave Macmillan Study Skills handbooks that will enhance your study skills.

The handbooks can be found on the 2nd floor of Catalyst, usually in the 370s. Here are just some of the titles on offer:

  • The Study Skills Handbook (371.30281/COT)
  • Teaching Study Skills and Supporting Learning (378.170281/COT)
  • Presentation Skills for Students (808.51/VAN)
  • E-learning Skills (371.334/CLA)
  • Study Skills Connected: Using Technology to Support your Study(371.30281/COT)

Not only does Catalyst have these useful books available, you can also book onto any of the Learning Services workshops or one-to-ones. There are multiple workshops available, including Academic Writing, Paraphrasing, Presentations and Lit Reviews. You can book onto any of these workshops here. There are much more resources for study skills available in Catalyst, why not use the library catalogue to check some of these out?

Written by: DYLAN BOOTH

3rd Year Creative Writing Student

Student Advisor for Library & Learning Services

 

Spotlight on… the Silent Study space

Welcome to the sixth of our ‘Spotlight on…’ blog series! As part of #LoveYourLibrary month, our Student Advisors will be bringing light to some of Catalyst’s lesser-known fantastic features.

From group rooms to private desks, Catalyst provides a range of study space options to cater for diverse student needs. On the top floor you will find the Silent Study space, which allows you not only room to concentrate on your studies free from distraction, but also a range of other unexpected benefits…

Have you taken in the incredible views from the floor-to-ceiling windows? This allows for students to take a glimpse of their surroundings and enjoy the sights of our beautiful campus, Lancashire and beyond. Perfect for when you need that quick study break!

Did you know… silence benefits brain chemistry improving your learning and remembering ability.

When it comes to that all-important study pause, just outside of the Silent Study space you will find an array of comfortable furniture where you can regroup with friends or simply grab a bite to eat from the vending machine.

Did you know… silence decreases stress by lowering blood cortisol levels and adrenaline.

One of the best features of the Silent Study space is that it caters for individual study preferences. There are computers that are available to use by all students, either on a singular desk or next to another computer. As well as this, individual study spaces are available where students can use their own laptop.

The printing hub for the Silent Study space is located on the third floor right outside the study area, resulting in quick and easy access to printing and scanning any work you may have. There is also a rover phone located here which means you can contact the helpdesk from the third floor if you require any assistance. You just have to pick up the phone and it will automatically connect you through to the helpdesk.

Happy silent studying!

Written by: Anna Krawiecka

Student Advisor for Library & Learning Services

Spotlight on… the Educational Resource Collection

Welcome to the fourth of our ‘Spotlight on…’ blog series! As part of #LoveYourLibrary month, our Student Advisors will be bringing light to some of Catalyst’s lesser-known fantastic features.

In today’s post, Jade explores Catalyst’s selection of educational resources. Did you know we house more than just books and journals?

Edge Hill College opened in Liverpool in 1885 as the first non-denominational teacher training college for women. From its roots as a specialist establishment with 41 female trainee teachers, Edge Hill University now has over 10,000 full-time students and has been at the forefront of initial teacher training for 130 years. The primary education teaching degrees combine expert tuition and a significant amount of time spent in schools gaining hands on experience.

So, considering all the to-be teachers here on campus, we have complied some facts about our Educational Resources Collection. We hope you’re inspired to use them on your placement!

Where are the resources located?

First floor   >   Near the spiral Staircase   >    000 – 999

What can the resources be used for?

  • To inspire lesson planning across the curriculum
  • To enhance the development of soft skills through interactive activities
  • To encourage creativity through play

If you are interested in the resources but are unsure which of them would suit you, I recommend booking out one of the group rooms on the ground floor to check them out with your peers. By sampling and getting to know the resources better, you can avoid any surprises in the classroom and teach with confidence!

See how to book your group room here.

Written by: Jade Kaur

3rd Year Nutrition and Health Student

Student Advisor for Library & Learning Services

 

‘Love Your Library’ round-up and Twitter Competition

Catalyst is a particularly pleasant place at the moment – cheery help desk staff, students smiling at one another, it’s as though the whole building is enveloped in a bubble of loveliness! We can’t quite put our finger on it, but we think it might be something to do with national #LoveYourLibrary month.

If you hadn’t noticed, since the start of February we’ve had a little digital celebration of all things Library. While our ‘Spotlight On…’ blog series has been showcasing lesser-known facts about your favourite study space, this week we will be going all in with special Student Advisor-led workshops, social media competitions and more.

To kick things off, our wonderful Student Advisors have decked out the ground floor desk space with an aptly-timed Valentines themed display. Think heart balloons, book ‘couples’, and enough red sequins to prompt a romantic proposal. If that weren’t enough, we’ve also set up a whopping 2-ways-to-enter competition with prizes for every entrant (while stocks last). We told you there was something in the air…

The first way to get your name in the pot for this year’s most coveted competition is to visit the event desk space and have a go at guessing the location of our list of famous libraries. Do you know your Bodleian from your St Marks? Are you search savvy enough on Google to find out?

Alternatively, keep your beady eyes peeled for an #EHULoveYourLibrary heart poking out from one of the Catalyst bookshelves. Simply tweet a picture of your discovery to @EHULearnService including the hashtag and we will take care of the rest. The prize you ask? Check out our heart-themed hamper below…

You also don’t want to miss our #LoveYourLibrary month book recommendations display. Not only have the Student Engagement Team been busy reviewing their top-picks from our very own Library Catalogue, but they’ve also paired some books they think go together better than Edge and Hill. We apologise in advance for inspiring you to use up all your book allowance!

Finally, make sure to book a space on our Student Advisor-led workshop ‘Getting the most out of ‘My Library’ here:

This hands-on session will show you everything you need to know about navigating our online tab. Whether you need to download the referencing guide or access subject specific journals, your Advisors will be on hand to answer or signpost any of your burning questions.

So don’t hold back, there’s plenty of ways to get involved with #LoveYourLibrary month and show Catalyst how much you care.

#LoveYourLibrary Competition Terms and conditions

  1. Only EHU Students are eligible to win prizes, EHU staff may enter but are not eligible to win a prize.
  2. To collect your goody bag for entering you will need to bring evidence of your competition entry to Catalyst Help Desk and quote ‘UniSkills competition’.
  3. Twitter competition entries must contain the hashtag #EHULoveYourLibrary with the heart(s) visible in the image.
  4. The prize will be given to the owner of the Tweet or student number on the ‘Famous Libraries’ competition slip.
  5. You may tweet as many times as you wish to share your heart, but only one entry (per method of entering) will be entered into the final prize draw.
  6. The winner will be contacted through their Twitter or student email account.
  7. The winners will be picked at random from a prize draw on Tuesday 19th February 2018.
  8. The prizes are non-transferable.
  9. All winners must be able to collect the prize from Catalyst Help Desk and be able to provide evidence/ID that they have won before we can hand over the prize.
  10. Prizes must be collected by 5pm on Tuesday 26thFebruary 2019.
  11. If anyone cannot be contacted or prizes are not collected by Tuesday 26th February the entry will become null and void and a re-draw will take place.

Spotlight on… Quick queries!

Welcome to the third of our ‘Spotlight on…’ blog series! As part of #LoveYourLibrary month, our Student Advisors will be bringing light to some of Catalyst’s lesser-known fantastic features.

Catalyst is a large building and when in need, trying to track down the exact person you need can be timely. While the help desk is a great place to go with any query you might have, this blog shines light on the other services available designed to minimize disruption to your precious study time.

Roving phones

These phones are located within the printing hub on each floor and are free for students to use. To use this phone, you just pick it up and it will ring the Catalyst Helpdesk for you. You may wish to report an issue with the printer, such as it having jammed or run out of paper. These phones can also be used to report any noise concerns.

Blinds

Did you know that students have control over the blinds in Catalyst? You can request for a blind to be lowered or heightened by texting +44 (0)1613 751608.

Noise issues

There may be times in Catalyst where the noise in your study area becomes too loud. You can inform members of staff about the noise without leaving your study space by texting +44 (0)1613 751608. Simply include your location in the text and a member of staff will deal with the issue.

Board pens

There are wipe boards and pens in the study rooms located on the ground floor that students are welcome to use (provided they book the room in advance). If there aren’t any wipe board pens in your study room, the help desk staff will happily provide you with some.

Written by: Anna Krawiecka

Student Advisor for Library & Learning Services

 

Spotlight on… Language Resources

Welcome to the second of our ‘Spotlight on…’ blog series! As part of #LoveYourLibrary month, our Student Advisors will be bringing light to some of Catalyst’s lesser-known fantastic features.

Learning a language has an exciting array of benefits. So why not enhance your memory, improve your first language, benefit your academic performance and even widen your career choices with a multilingual library pick?

Fortunately, Catalyst has lots of foreign language resources you can delve into as a starting point. Whether you’re beginning from scratch or are already a seasoned Spanish speaker, browse the library’s inspiring collection of both grammar and teach-yourself exercise books. There’s no excuses!

On the 2nd floor of Catalyst (400-470) you can find extensive books on learning several languages. These include (but are not limited to):

  • French
  • German
  • Celtic
  • Mandarin Chinese
  • Spanish

If that wasn’t enough, Catalyst also offers sign language resources…

With so many languages to choose from, half the fun may even be in discovering a tongue you didn’t know existed!

Written by: DYLAN BOOTH

3rd Year Creative Writing Student

Student Advisor for Library & Learning Services