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Learning how to learn

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4.3 Making a plan

How you respond to this suggestion will depend on what sort of person you are. Many of us are great planners with timetables and lists for every part of our lives; others just get on with the priorities and everything else follows in due course. Planning is no guarantee everything will get done or that deadlines will be met, but the process of making a plan makes you focus on what the task entails and gives direction and purpose to your study. Studying does demand that most students need to plan their work and there is evidence that target setting and appropriate planning can enhance performance.

Plans can be as general or as specific as necessary depending on your purpose and preference. Remember to take into account any awareness you have of your preferred ways of working - your learning skills, styles and strategies. The aim is to help you begin to understand what approach to learning really works best for you, in the context of the course you are currently studying and your personal circumstances.

An action plan can be just a list of things to do, a chart giving deadlines, a diagram showing how the various parts of your plan interact, or a set of post-its on a sheet of card that you move around when each task is done. If you break down the overall task into a series of smaller targets, you can chart your progress in more detail. It's useful to have a way of recording your progress as well as a way of listing any sources of help that you need. You can even customise one of the more sophisticated electronic planners - if that is your preferred way of working. But do remember that your original plan may well have to be modified as you work towards your final target.

Activity 6

Now, make yourself an action plan for your next assignment. You may like the design and layout of Tim's or Sue's action plans, or you may prefer to design one for yourself.


The format and the content of the plan should be one that suits you and the assignment for which you are preparing.

This action plan compiled by Tim covers his work on a section of the course, as well as setting targets for the completion of his assignment.

TargetWhat I need to doWith help fromTarget dateRevised dateDate completed
Find out what the next assignment is about.Read the question and student advice.Bob Self-help group Tutor at tutorialApril 12April 12
Gather material for both parts of essay.Go through my notes extracting relevant bits.TV programme might be useful.April 13April 13
Check back through course course and margin notes in case there is anything to add.
Produce an essay plan for each part.Put the points in order.Discuss key points with Bob. Look in Arts Good Study Guide for advice on analysing.April 13April 13
Produce first draft of both parts.Put my notes in some sort of order with an introduction and conclusion.April 13April 14April 14
Produce final draft of part 1.Edit to make sure that all the points are relevant; proof read for spelling and grammar 'blips'.Self-help group meeting at pub.April 14April 15April 15
Produce final draft part 2.As above.As above.April 16April 17April 17
Meet assignment deadline: April 21.Have final read through (just in case!) and post to tutor.April 18April 19April 19

Sue has a very disciplined approach to her work, with tight deadlines for her final assignment.

Main task: Submit my final assignment on time!
TargetTasksTarget date
Book 6(i) skim read6 Sept
Assignment 6 (due in 15 Sep)(i) finish and post12 Sept
Assignment 7 (due in 2 Oct)(i) check requirements18 Sept
(ii) select relevant sections
(iii) re-read
(iv) check graphs and tables
(v) extract data
(vi) make notes
Assignment 7 Q1 (essay)(i) draw up essay plan as grid18 Sept
(ii) include evidence and data
Assignment 7 Q2(i) re-read question and check understanding22 Sept
(ii) draft out answer to parts (a) to (c)
(iii) if necessary get help on (d)
Assignment 7 Q1 (essay)(i) DRAFT 1 of essay22 Sept
(ii) check word limit and
(iii) use red pen to cut down!!
Assignment 7 Q2(i) write final version of Q224 Sept
Assignment 7 Q1 (essay)(i) DRAFT 2 of essay27 Sept
(ii) get someone else to read through and comment
Assignment 7(i) FINAL VERSION of essay30 Sept
(ii) post it!