Course intro

Our learning goals

During WEEK 1 we discussed the main goals of ES EPSY 1259, the course grading and evaluation process, and the expectations for the students and the instructor. As I made clear during the first meeting, our class is a place for interactive and engaged learning and I can learn as much from you as you can from me.

From the syllabus: ES EPSY 1259 will help you become a strategic learner in the college environment by developing insights into how, when, and why to use different types of learning and motivation strategies. You will learn both practical skills and the theory that supports them. Topics we will cover include: motivation, goal setting, time management, memory and learning, improving concentration, taking lecture notes, reading textbooks, preparing for exams, test taking, and communicating persuasively in papers and speeches.

As a reminder, here are some of the learning goals we hope you will be able to achieve by the end of the semester:

  • Identify characteristics of successful students
  • Understand the theory of self-regulated learning and examine its role in college success
  • Understand and apply strategies for: increasing motivation, setting effective goals, managing your time and study environment, taking notes, reading academic texts, preparing for exams, taking tests skillfully and confidently, and effectively communicating a point of view.

Changing how we view education

One of the biggest struggles college students face is understanding the differences between learning in college and learning in High School. What you once considered a very effective “study technique”, won’t necessarily translate into an effective strategy for college learning. You must learn and gain new skills if you want to succeed at the college level.

The following video helps us understand the role of our education background on this transition. On Changing Education Paradigms, Sir Ken Robinson explains how the “industrialization” of education has impacted students’ learning, performance and critical thinking.

Reflection: How can you become a divergent thinker and re-develop your ability to think creatively?

Discovering your learning approach

On our quest to better understand college learning, we need to explore the idea of learning approaches. In the book What the best college students do, renowned Harvard professor Ken Bain argues that college students can be represented by three distinctive categories based on their approach to learning. In this NPR interview Ken Bain explains:

Different students will take different approaches to college learning. Generally they will fall into one of three broad categories:

1) surface approach – driven by survival mode

2) strategic approach – driven by grades (extrinsic motivation)

3) deep approach – driven by passion for learning (intrinsic motivation).

Only the latter is likely to be successful.

Cover of the book "What the best college students do".