Academic Strategies Workshop Series

The McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning is offering a series of hands-on, active, and process-focused workshops in which students learn and apply strategies designed expressly for the highly demanding Princeton University context. Led by McGraw's Associate Director, Nic Voge, the emphasis is on advanced and innovative techniques for purposeful and efficient learning. Students apply the strategies to their own course materials whenever possible during the workshops and, ideally, make a one-to-one follow-up appointment in The McGraw Center which builds upon what they learned in the workshop.

The strategies introduced emerge from a common core of research-based learning principles and comprise an integrated strategic approach. While each workshop can stand alone, the series is designed to build on itself and thus reinforce the core principles, and yet is sequenced to be responsive to the current demands of the semester (e.g. midterms).

Do you have suggestions about topics or issues for McGraw Undergraduate Programming? Email your ideas to mcgraw@princeton.edu.


     

    Spring 2017

    How People Learn: Using Research Findings to Become an Expert Learner

    Research from brain science and cognitive psychology is converging on key principles of learning. These principles must be translated to the Princeton context to be useful to students. Learn how to apply these strategies to your own learning to become a more effective and efficient learner.  

    Wednesday, March 29 from 8:30 to 10:00 p.m. in 329 Frist Campus Center
    RSVP to reserve your spot.

    What I Wish I'd Know Junior Year: A Lunch Panel on the Senior Thesis

    This is an interactive panel in which Princeton seniors from a variety of departments will share their experiences and insights about a host of issues related to undertaking and completing a senior thesis project. Get some timely, "inside" information and get your questions answered. Topics will include:

    • Choosing a topic
    • Working effectively with faculty advisors
    • What to do over the summer (and in the fall)
    • How to balance the thesis with other obligations and activities (e.g. athletics)
    • Dealing with stress
    • Organizing and scheduling your work
    Friday, March 31 from 12:00 to 1:15 p.m. in 330 Frist Campus Center
    RSVP to reserve your spot.

    Understanding & Overcoming Procrastination

    Is procrastination an obstacle to maintaining balance and achieving academic success? If so, you are not alone. Up to 80% of college students report that procrastination has been a significant issue. Procrastination is not a matter of mere “laziness” and the solution is not simply “better time management”. In order to overcome procrastination, it is vital that you understand its root causes and motivational dynamics. It is also vital to learn an array of (sometimes counter-intuitive) strategies and techniques for dealing with it. In this workshop you will:

    • Gain a deeper awareness of what procrastination is and why people do it
    • Understand the motivational dynamics and mind games that perpetuate procrastination
    • Learn a variety of techniques for managing procrastination

    All participants can arrange individualized follow-up appointments. 

    Friday, March 31 from 1:30 to 3:00 p.m. in 330 Frist Campus Center
    RSVP to reserve your spot.

    Developing an Effective Plan for Completing Independent Work

    The Princeton JP and Senior Thesis are exciting opportunities for students to explore and contribute to the scholarship of their discipline. For many, however, managing their time and this big task can be daunting and stressful rather than rewarding. During this workshop you will:

    • Clarify challenges that are impeding your progress, and discuss strategies for overcome them.
    • Create a plan to manage your project and see it through to completion.

    Wednesday, April 5 from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. in 330 Frist Campus Center
    RSVP to reserve your spot.

    Time Management, Task Management & Overcoming Distractions

    Learn effective strategies for managing your time, your many tasks and--most importantly--yourself so that you can be efficient.

    Friday, April 7 from 1:30 to 3:00 p.m. in 330 Frist Campus Center
    RSVP to reserve your spot.

    Making the Most of Reading Week & Finals

    This interactive workshop will focus on successful strategies for how to complete Dean's Date assignments efficiently and prepare for exams effectively. Come get your questions answered about managing one of Princeton's unique challenges. Discussion topics are time management, productivity, and dealing with stress.

    Friday, May 5 from 8:30 to 10:00 p.m. in 329 Frist Campus Center
    RSVP to reserve your spot.

    Monday, May 8 from 1:30 to 3:00 p.m. in 329 Frist Campus Center
    RSVP to reserve your spot.

     


    Future Programming

    Achieving Balance Over Winter Break

    Lots to do?  Limited time?  Want to balance time with friends and family while getting ready for deans date assignments and final exams? Join us for an interactive dinner discussion with McGraw Learning Consultants to get advice about establishing realistic expectations for yourself and how best to meet them. You’ll get more done and enjoy the break more, too.
    Bring your dinner! 

    Advanced Reading & Learning from Text Strategies

    Learn How to Maximize Your Reading Efficiency! To achieve academic success at Princeton it is crucial for students to develop superior strategies for reading and learning from text. In this workshop you will learn:

    • an approach that helps you align your learning strategies to instructor objectives
    • techniques for reading various kinds of academic texts
    • strategies for enhancing retention and recall
    • methods for reading faster and more efficiently

    This is an active, hands-on workshop in which you will learn specific strategies by applying them.

    Balancing Work & Play During Winter Break

    Lots to do? Limited time? Want to balance time with friends and family with getting ready for finals and deans date assignments? Come to this session to think through your demands and make a realistic plan for the break. You’ll get more done and enjoy the break more too. 

    Become your own MATLAB coach! – MATLAB for Novices and Beginners

    If you are new to MATLAB or finding difficulty communicating through MatLab's interface, this McGraw Center workshop is for you! This hour and a half interactive session will begin with developing a toolkit of problem-solving strategies and resources that you can use on a variety of code-based problems. We will then implement these tools on a series of problems to help foster a foundation for introductory programming and more confidence during troubleshooting. The ultimate goal of this workshop is to empower students like you to become both your own tutor and advocate.

      Efficient Learning Strategies: Studying Large Amounts of Information

      Looking for more effective—and efficient—study strategies? Because of the large amounts of information assigned and the compressed schedule of midterm exam week, you need to prioritize, organize and study course content as the course unfolds. Waiting until exam week to study just doesn’t work. Learn several different study methods applicable to a variety of courses so that you can read, take lecture notes, and study.

      Effective Midterm Exam Preparation Strategies

      Ready for your midterms? In this workshop, you will learn proven methods for:

      • Anticipating and preparing for the kind of problems and questions you will be expected to answer on exams.
      • Selecting and prioritizing the most important information in your courses.
      • Synthesizing and reducing large amounts of information from multiple sources into manageable formats.
      • Organizing your knowledge in ways that promote deep learning, retention, and efficient recall.

      This is an active hands-on workshop in which you will work on materials from YOUR own current courses. So, bring a syllabus or two and any other information from your courses such as previous exams (check Blackboard) that might be useful in preparing for midterms. 

      Going Forward from Midterms

      What did you learn FROM your midterms? How can you use your exams to make adjustments to your approach?

      In this interactive workshop led by McGraw Undergraduate Learning Consultants, you will use the feedback gained from your midterms to develop more effective approaches to learning for the rest of the semester. You will take away a:

      • concrete action plan for your courses
      • process for using exams to adjust your studying
      • better understanding of the kinds of studying required in Princeton courses

      Learn More From Lectures: Tech Tools and Strategies for Taking Effective Notes

      Taking good notes in class is an important skill that is often taken for granted. But taking effective notes is crucial if you are to make the most of Princeton courses. Both new technologies and effective strategies can help you learn more from lectures. In this workshop, you will learn strategies for maintaining attention during class and why it’s vital, making useful notes while also learning from lectures, and ways to utilize your notes for studying and other purposes

      Topics discussed will include:

      • To type, to draw, to write -- how to decide
      • Tools for synthesis
      • How to combine digital and handwritten notes effectively

      Make the Most of your Textbook and Course Resources: Chemistry and Life Sciences

      Textbooks in chemistry and the life sciences are common course resources. While they are assigned with the intent to assist the learning process, textbooks themselves can often become a challenge due to their dense text and the sheer amount of material. In this workshop, we will discuss how to most efficiently learn with a chemistry and life sciences textbook and associated reading assignments and importantly, how to use cues from lecture, precept, and assignments to guide our reading.

      Making The Academic Transition To Princeton: Student Panel

      Achieving success at Princeton requires that students adjust. Get strategies and advice for achieving balance and academic success from Princeton juniors and seniors. Learn about campus academic resources, too.

      Making the Most of the Rest of the Semester

      What did you learn FROM your midterms? How can you use your exams to make adjustments to your approach? In this interactive workshop led by McGraw Undergraduate Learning Consultants, you will use the feedback gained from your midterms to develop more effective approaches to learning for the rest of the semester. You will take away:

      • A concrete action plan for your courses
      • A process for using exams to adjust your studying
      • A better understanding the kinds of studying required in Princeton courses 

      Make the Most of your Textbook and Course Resources: Physical Sciences and Mathematics

      Textbooks can be an underutilized resource in the physical sciences and mathematics due to their length and technical density, although they contain a vast wealth of information. In this informal dinner time workshop, we will go over common techniques for using textbooks in the physical sciences, particularly in:

      • Grasping the big picture
      • Building more practical tools for problem sets

      Students will come away with techniques to best utilize their textbook and take on the semester!

      (all students are encouraged to bring a textbook from one of their introductory physical science or mathematics courses to use as we go through our helpful techniques)

      Mapping Your Semester for Balance and Success

      Map out your semester from the very start! Balance academics with everything else Princeton has to offer. Learn about the biggest organizational and time management challenges from Princeton upperclassmen—so you can overcome them. Try out proven practical techniques and tools. Find out about fundamental principles of time management and self-management that allow you to adapt to new, unexpected situations. Prevent procrastination before it prevents you from getting things done! Bring to the workshop the syllabi from each of your courses and leave with a useful toolkit for:

      • Efficiently schedule your whole semester
      • Manage time on a daily and weekly basis
      • Getting more out of your study time
      • Using to-do lists more effectively

      This is an active, hands-on workshop in which you will apply strategies to YOUR own courses. Individualized follow-up appointments with staff in the McGraw Center in Frist can be arranged.

      Organizing Your Semester

      Map out your semester from the very start! Balance academics with everything else Princeton has to offer. Learn about the biggest organizational and time management challenges from Princeton upperclassmen—so you can overcome them. Try out proven practical techniques and tools. Find out about fundamental principles of time management and self-management that allow you to adapt to new, unexpected situations. Prevent procrastination before it prevents you from getting things done! Bring to the workshop the syllabi from each of your courses and leave with a useful toolkit for:

      • Efficiently schedule your whole semester
      • Manage time on a daily and weekly basis
      • Getting more out of your study time
      • Using to-do lists more effectively

      This is an active, hands-on workshop in which you will apply strategies to YOUR own courses. Individualized follow-up appointments with staff in the McGraw Center in Frist can be arranged.

      Participating in Precepts and Seminars

      Precepts and seminars can be great for clarifying content, talking through ideas, learning new skills and more, but they can also be intimidating, confusing and frustrating at times. Many students feel that they don’t understand expectations for precept, or how to learn effectively from them, while others notice how students have very different levels of preparation that allow them to engage with course material and participate in precept. What do professors and precepts expect, how can students prepare effectively, and what resources are available to do so? In this conversation, we will focus on concrete strategies you can use before, during, and after class so that you are both contributing to and gaining from class discussions.

      Post-Midterm Reflection: (Re)Planning for Academic Success

      Many students find adjusting to the examination styles of each new course to be challenging, and it is usually around midterm time that this realization sets in. Turn the "shock" of midterms into a successful learning experience by reflecting, evaluating, and strategizing for the future. Join us for this Midterms Reflection Workshop. Together we will:

      • Reflect on the midterm experience: what you learned, how you felt, what you would like to work on. 
      • Discuss ways to adjust your mindset and approach to the course.
      • Learn how to evaluate your test results in a practical and constructive manner for future success. 
      • Develop strategies for academic success in the remainder of the semester.

      Presenting Your Argument: The Magic Thesis Statement and your Social Sciences JP or Thesis

      In our independent work, we strive to present new and interesting argument(s). The purpose of this workshop is to help students writing junior papers or senior theses in the social sciences think through the best way to present their argument(s). In this 60-minute session over lunch, we will help students identify key components of their argument and assist them in mapping out their papers to effectively communicate their arguments. Students will work with their own drafts or outlines during this workshop.

      Preparing for Finals & Dean's Date

      This multidisciplinary panel of undergraduate students will share their successful strategies for how to complete Dean's Date assignments efficiently and prepare for exams effectively. Come get your questions answered about managing one of Princeton's unique challenges. Discuss:

      • Time management
      • How to be productive
      • Dealing with stress

      Preventing Procrastination

      Prevent procrastination before it prevents you from reaching your goals. Up to 80% of college students report that procrastination has been a significant issue. Procrastination is not a matter of mere “laziness” and the solution is not simply “better time management”. In order to overcome procrastination, it is vital that you understand its root causes and motivational dynamics. It is also vital to learn an array of (sometimes counter-intuitive) strategies and techniques for dealing with it. In this workshop, you will:

      • Gain a deeper awareness of what procrastination is and why people do 
      • Understand the motivational dynamics and mind games that perpetuate procrastination
      • Learn a variety of techniques for managing procrastination

      All participants can arrange individualized follow-up appointments.

      Reading for Independent Work in the Social Sciences

      In this 60 minute session, students will learn how to read effectively for their independent projects. We will focus on identifying the purpose of reading, sharing resources for where and how to find the appropriate readings, and by helping students try out some strategies for how to read. We ask that all participants bring an (unread) article or book chapter that they will need to complete for their independent work. This session is designed for juniors and seniors as well as advanced sophomores.

      Seeing what is there: Effective Strategies for Getting Past Academic Frustration

      Struggling with writer's block? Clueless about what your assigned reading is saying? Do your data and graphs just don't make any sense? Analysis paralysis is a common problem in an academic setting, and the sheer amount of information to process can be overwhelming. This problem can stem from our thinking too much about our work instead of seeing what is there. In this workshop we will learn to break these distracting cognitive habits by directly observing what is present in images, graphs, and text. By the end of this workshop, you will have a powerful set of tools to break through academic frustration by asking the simple question, "What do I see?"

      Spring Semester Reset: Success in Discussion-Based Courses

      This workshop will set you up for success in your spring semester discussion-based courses. You will reflect on and identify lessons learned from previous discussion based courses and apply them for success in your current courses. We will outline the most important lessons and most successful techniques, and then connect them to a map of this semester’s course reading load, paper/exam assignments, and goals. Students should bring copies (paper or electronic) of the syllabi from their discussion-based classes.

      Start Your Semester Strong: Planning and Strategizing for Success in the Spring Term

      Spring semester poses some unique demands, especially when it comes to time management and planning. Come to this session to learn strategies for making the most of the first weeks of the semester, making a plan for success, and scheduling your commitments.

      Start Your Semester Strong: What to do (Academically) the First Week & Beyond

      Learn from McGraw learning consultants (Princeton Juniors and seniors) practical strategies for starting your courses off strong and managing your time effectively so you can make the most of all that Princeton has to offer. Get their advice, ask your questions, leave with valuable resources.

      Strategies for Efficient Reading

      Learn How to Maximize Your Reading Efficiency! To achieve academic success at Princeton it is crucial for students to develop superior strategies for reading and learning from text. In this workshop you will learn:

      • an approach that helps you align your learning strategies to instructor objectives
      • techniques for reading various kinds of academic texts
      • strategies for enhancing retention and recall
      • methods for reading faster and more efficiently

      This is an active, hands-on workshop in which you will learn specific strategies by applying them.

      Strategies For Tackling Exam Level Problems

      Surprised by the types of problems on your midterms? Gain strategies to prepare for exam-level questions. 
      Learn how to better transfer what you learned from class and p-sets to solve problems on exams in this practical 1-hour workshop designed for students taking quantitative problem-solving courses in MAT, PHY, CHM, STATs and engineering. Develop exam-prep and test-taking strategies and gain more confidence. In order to make the most of this workshop, bring with you problems (p-sets, practice exams, midterms, etc.) from a class you want to focus on.

      Succeeding in your Discussion-Based Class: How to Prepare and Engage in Seminars and Precepts

      In this 60-minute session, students will learn how to succeed in discussion-based classes. Over dinner, we will outline and then practice strategies to help with three tasks commonly associated with such courses:

      • Managing reading assignments
      • Maximizing participation during class or precepts
      • Preparing to write papers.

      Participants will also have time to reflect on what changes they would like to implement immediately.

      Time Management for Princeton

      Princeton academics and extracurriculars pose unique time management challenges and offer incredible opportunities. Enhance your time (and task) management strategies so that you can have the kind of Princeton experience you want and achieve your most important goals while finding balance. This is an active, hands-on workshop in which you will learn specific strategies by applying them.