2 Do I have the right skills for study?
Having found the time to study it is important to review your study skills. Learning is a journey and distance learners in particular need to draw on a range of skills to help them on their way. Activity 2 will support you in reflecting on your skills, taking stock and discovering where you might need to develop new skills.
Students tell us that the skills they need to be successful in distance learning are a mixture of what might be called soft and hard skills. On the soft side, the kinds of thing they talk about are self-motivation, dealing with stress and becoming more confident as a learner. On the hard side, which is more likely to depend on the discipline studied, they value being able to take detailed notes, write essays or do mathematical calculations.
What sort of approach best fits your attitude to study? Select five skills from the following list that best match your preferred study approach. Then copy and paste them into the box below.
- I don’t like to give up, I tend to persevere at a task.
- I am confident about reading in order to learn from different points of view.
- I am curious, I like to learn new things, and then apply this new knowledge.
- I am competent at making useful notes from my study materials.
- Learning can be challenging at times. However, I am confident in my capacity to learn effectively.
- I can write in a structured manner to answer a question.
- I might get stressed at times when learning. However, I know I can manage my time and expectations effectively.
- I can process my learning in order to address the assessment tasks asked of me.
- I respond to feedback positively, using it to develop myself as a learner.
- I can interpret information from a variety of media (books, DVDs, spreadsheets, graphs and audio).
What does this suggest?
If you picked mainly even numbers (2, 4, 6, 8 or 10), this suggests you are more confident in what academics refer to as ‘hard’ discipline skills. If you selected mainly odd numbers (1, 3, 5, 7 or 9), this suggests you are more confident with ‘soft’ skills.
Don’t worry about the outcome of this task as you will need both sets of skills to be a successful distance learner. Being aware of them is the first step on your study journey – engaging in learning will develop these skills.
Have a chat with someone who knows you well about your approach to study. Many of us can be overly critical of ourselves and it can be motivating to have an impartial perspective on your skills as a learner.
Based on your response to the activity and your conversation, look at these two examples of free OpenLearn resources to help you develop more effective study skills. These are short informal courses designed to help you get a taste of what distance learning in higher education is like.