Higher education study develops all kinds of
skills for students. Writing an assignment is
not just writing an assignment: it is effective
notetaking, the ability to understand a question,
researching, reading and evaluating secondary
sources, using a referencing system, and
setting aside time to write and edit. Students
are expected to work on individual assignments
over extended periods of time, which also
requires motivation, confidence, organisation,
It is never too early for students to be aware of their approaches to studying, and for them to consider how they might apply their skills in the future. The tips below can be used during discussions with your students to encourage them to see higher education study skills as buildable over time, rather than as a new and daunting prospect.
Students rarely start from scratch with their study skills. Problem solving, analysing, and evaluating are often used in everyday situations such as making decisions and maintaining friendships. Daily life at school also involves organisation and time management. It is helpful to make explicit links between these existing skillsets and how they might apply to academic study. Ongoing self-reflection can also have a positive impact on confidence, as it allows students to appreciate that their skills are not fixed and can be developed.
Unrealistic expectations of their own abilities
can form barriers for students who expect too
much of themselves in a short space of time.
It is important to emphasise that students will
develop skills during their chosen course; they
do not need to excel at them all on the day they
enrol! Highlighting the differences between
immediate and long-term goals, and how a
student can approach these, can make all the difference in confidence and outcomes.
Assignments are often designed so that feedback can be used to constantly improve. Using feedback as a tool to enhance their work rather than focusing solely on the grade given will encourage students to have a positive approach to constructive criticism.
Higher education involves lots of independent
study but that doesn’t mean students shouldn’t
ask for help. Providers offer vast amounts of
support and using the available services will
improve the student experience, both prior to
and during study.
Potential students should be reminded to check websites of providers they are interested in for information on transition activities: for example, Blackpool and The Fylde College runs ‘Flying Start’ workshops each summer so that students can meet staff, pick up study tips and share strategies for good time management. Although some students can be initially reluctant to seek out support, those who do invariably comment on how useful it is in building their skills and confidence.
In conclusion: writing an assignment is not just writing an assignment. It is meeting expectations, communicating effectively, appreciating the views of others, receiving feedback and learning how to improve. It is developing a complete set of skills that will continue to be valuable in education, employment, and life.
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by Rebecca Wills
posted on 22 Feb '24
With so many graduates now entering the job market, a degree alone is not always enough. It is therefore very important that you work on developing your employability skills throughout your time at university, and university careers services are experts in offering a range of support to help you achieve this successfully. I will tell you more about some of the opportunities here.