Learning Tips from Students

We asked members of the Peer Tutor Program their ideas on how to manage asynchronous classes and work with fellow students as they tackle different forms of remote learning.   Here are a few of their tips!  -September 2020.

From Frankie Wotton '22:

(1) If possible, work on the course during the time it would have been if it was in person (yup, even if it's an 8am). This will give you that rigid structure that’s at the core of your productivity during the semester — what we maybe didn’t really realize back when things were necessarily this way. Alternatively, if time-zones don’t permit for instance, fix an unmoving three hours a week that will be dedicated to the course and tailor the rest of your studying for the course around that.

(2) Keep good communication with the professor. My sense is that instructors are as available, if not more, than they have been in the past, so it’s good to take advantage of that. It’s also likely nice for your professors to know that you’re a dedicated student even in times like these (that might make them more empathetic, especially if they know of any stressors in your life at home).

(3) If the professor provides pre-recorded video lectures, treat them as live lectures. In live lectures we have to listen actively because we won’t be able to go back and listen to what the professor said a second time. If we listen actively the first time, we won’t need to spend extra, valuable time going back and rewatching things. Listening actively and taking notes when necessary will also help the information sink in.

(4) Kind of in conjunction with (3), take advantage of the fact that you can pause videos! If something doesn’t quite make sense, pause the video and think about it, write about it, and let it sit for a few minutes before moving on. But don’t pause every time you don’t understand something, perhaps write the troubling concept down to review it later in order to save time and finish watching the video in a reasonable timespan.

(5) Probably one of the most useful for me: connect with classmates. Asynchronous classes can get really lonely. There might be almost no interaction with other students in the course unless you make the effort. Connecting with other students might be additional help in maintaining interest when your self-motivation gets low (which it will at times).

(6) This can be framed as a more general piece of advice too, but plan out the entire course in a calendar. It can be easy to begin to rely on classmates and your professor to know when big things are due. Those sources lack in this setting, so we’ll need to keep on top of everything ourselves. Write it all down so you don’t forget anything.

From Lexi Barile '21:

I’ve been utilizing google docs for our zoom-based tutoring sessions – The student and I work on a document together, piecing my notes with hers and comparing the information – I explain concepts and ideas orally, but ensure she understands the notes in the google doc, it’s also helpful as I can add graphs, charts, and images to the document that we can discuss together. The best part is that google docs are in a sense “live” versions of taking notes so we can each see what the other is typing and refer back to it at a later time/the student can use it to study from. If anyone is struggling, I would highly recommend they try the google doc method – it even helps me as the tutor remember where we left off after our last session.

From Matías Fonollá '23:

I have suggested that as people watch asynchronous lectures, they simultaneously have a draft on an email open where they can write down questions as they come. In that way, by the end of the lecture, they already have all their questions ready to be sent to the professor.  

Also, I think managing the spaces where you set up for your classes is really important. I've heard that a lot of people attend classes from their beds and have actually struggled because of it. Finding a quiet place where they can sit up straight on a table can help improve one's mindset. 

From Ngoc Tan '23:

1) A class syllabus is your best friend. I thought of class syllabi as the professor’s secretary, where almost all “Frequently Asked Questions” could be answered regarding to the class. The syllabi is very informative, not only it provides us an overview of the course, but there are important dates and deadlines that we need to know. This helps with the organization of class assignments between different courses.

2) Regarding the class syllabi, I found it super helpful to transmit all important dates and deadlines onto my calendar. Then I use that to build my daily/weekly/monthly planner. I started using Notion as a workspace to organize all of my courses. It was quite a lot when I first started, but it only took me two days to get used to it. When things are visually planned out, it also helps to manage stress because the tasks are not flowing in my head.

3) Maintaining communication with professors. It may be scary at first because, at least for me, there has always been a strict barrier between student and teacher when I was in school. However, I learnt that college-setting is not the same and especially in a liberal arts college. I personally think students should take advantage of this environment to reach out to professors. 

4) Balance out your life. Under this circumstances, it is very easy to lose motivation to stay focus, and for those who are motivated, it is very easy to burn out. Hence, it is extremely important to balance out many aspects in my life because I believe that successful work can only be achieved with healthy minds.