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New Undergraduate Students


Welcome to Sheffield and we hope that you find this interactive study skills resource useful as you settle into your course. Academic success involves a wide range of skills which you will need to familiarise yourself with over the coming months. Along with the subject knowledge that you will gain, you will be advancing and refining your academic skills as your studies progress. Through your previous studies, you will have already developed many of these skills, such as time management, academic writing, and teamwork skills, and you may now be wondering what will be expected of you at undergraduate level.

Whether you are new to university study, have been away from education for a while, or you are embarking on your first studies in the UK, this resource will give you a head start with transitioning to study at the University of Sheffield. It will enable you to get the most out of yourself when undertaking the learning activities and assessments on your course, and familiarise you with the academic support available throughout your time at Sheffield.


 The learning objectives of this resource are as follows:

  • Develop the skills and confidence to make a positive start on your course
  • Reflect on your personal strengths, gaps and challenges
  • Set skills-related goals for the academic year and work towards them
  • Apply your academic skills to learning and assessment on your course

      


How to Use this Course

Resources are broken down into sections below. Each section contains a set of resources and activities relevant to the suggested stage of your course:

  • Core resources are those that will be relevant for everyone and should be completed
  • Recommended resources are those that should be completed if relevant
  • Optional resources are those that may be of interest

  Please use this course flexibly to dip in and out of the resources as appropriate, to help develop the skills you will need for your learning and assessments. Some resources will be useful as a refresher, while other areas may be new to you. If you wish to record your progress on the course, you can work towards the Academic Skills Certificate to gain recognition for your ongoing skills development.

Pre-arrival/intro week

Welcome to the start of your course! The first days and weeks are likely to involve an exciting mix of new experiences: meeting tutors and other students (either in-person or virtually); finding out about your course; learning about the University and the city; settling in and getting all of the logistics sorted out. In short, it can be an overwhelming and confusing time. Explore the following resources to find out more about what to expect from your course and how to get the most out of your own independent study.

Are you looking for support in developing your English language skills as you start your Sheffield journey? You can find English language support at a different University service, the English Language Teaching Centre (ELTC). The ELTC offers courses, 1:1 sessions and online resources to help you develop your skills. If you would like to practice your conversational English, Global Campus run ‘Conversation Cafe’ sessions for new students at the University.

301 logo Resource Core/Recommended/Optional Description Time Commitment
LOGOworkshoprecording What to Expect from Your Course Core

Workshop Recording

36 mins

LOGOdownloadresource New to Sheffield Recommended Online Resource N/A
LOGOdownloadresource University Jargon glossary Recommended Online Resource N/A
LOGOinteractiveresource Independent Study Recommended

Interactive Digital Workshop

Online Resource

50 mins (Digital Workshop)

30 mins (Online Resource)

LOGOdownloadresource Getting the most out of seminars Recommended Online Resource 30 mins
LOGOdownloadresource Introduction to the University Library Optional Other Service N/A
LOGOsignpost Sheffield chat Optional Other Service N/A

Top Tips from our Tutor Team:

All of our resources at 301 are developed collaboratively with our experienced team of postgraduate tutors.

Watch this short video to hear their top tips for getting started on your course.

      

Survey

However you are feeling about your course, you are not alone! Have a go at answering the following multiple-choice questions and submit the form to record your responses (a copy will be emailed to you). You will then be able to see how other students have responded to these questions.

Please note: your responses will be anonymous.

Weeks 1-4

Now that you have been introduced to Sheffield and your course, we have selected some resources that will give you the tools to study effectively. It is perfectly normal to still feel a little overwhelmed as you adjust to this new chapter in your life. Good study skills will help ease the transition and give you a strong start academically. Depending on your course, some study skills will be more applicable than others. The great thing about University learning, even at undergraduate level, is that the experience is unique for each student.

For some students, their undergraduate year will mark the first experience of academic writing, with projects being less structured and more focussed on independent study. For others, it might require working in teams to complete a project. Maybe you want to sharpen up your reading, enabling you to find vital information more quickly. As lectures and seminars begin, you might also find it helpful to look through our reading and note taking resources (choose from either the individual recorded workshops on focussed reading, speed reading, and note taking, or the ‘Reading and Note Taking Strategies’ workshop, which encompasses all of these areas).

Your project might require statistical techniques, which can be daunting if you haven’t studied mathematics since school. As well as study skills resources, you can get mathematics and statistics help, ranging from overcoming anxieties to understanding specific techniques integral to your project.

You might be feeling unsure as to where to start, and if so, it might be helpful for you to take the 301 Skills Audit before you jump into your skills development. See the link below to take the skills audit, which helps you to diagnose specific areas for your study skills development. To get kick started with that skills development, the table below contains a list of resources which are useful for all undergraduate courses, and some tailored towards maths and statistics.

Over the next few weeks, make use of the core resources below, as academic writing is an essential skill in university life. Now might be a good time to check out our time management resources, encompassing planning for the semester ahead and weekly/daily organisation. But choose from the optional and recommended sources based on your own development goals: you may already be familiar with some concepts, and therefore choose to concentrate on other skills.

Whether you’re coming into higher education (HE) fresh from secondary education, or coming back into it after a while away, the step up to university level can feel large. Rest assured that these four weeks are a perfect time to develop good habits that will stay with you up to graduation and beyond!

301 logo Resource Core/Recommended/Optional Description Time Commitment
LOGOinteractiveresource Academic writing Core

Interactive Digital Workshop

Live Workshop

Online Resource

30 mins (Digital Workshop, Online Resource)

1 hour (Live Workshop)

Reading and Note Taking Recommended (N.B. If you attend, there is no need to view the three recordings on reading and note taking below)

Interactive Digital Workshop

 Live Workshop

1 hour
LOGOworkshoprecording Speed reading Recommended Workshop Recording 20 mins
LOGOworkshoprecording Focused reading Recommended Workshop Recording 30 mins
LOGOworkshoprecording Note taking Recommended Workshop Recording 30 mins
LOGOworkshoprecording Managing your time and avoiding distractions Recommended

Workshop Recording

Live Workshop

Online Resource

30 mins (Workshop Recording)

1 hour (Live Workshop)

LOGOonlineresource Maths and Statistics online resources Optional

Maths Online Resources

Statistics Online Resources

N/A
LOGOinteractiveresource Maths anxiety Optional Interactive Digital Workshop 30 mins
LOGOonlineresource Group working: online and face to face Optional

General Group Work and Collaboration:
Online Resources

Online Group Work:
Online Resources

30 mins

 

Skills Audit 

A skills audit is a tool used in education and employment for assessing your learning needs, in order to plan, develop and improve the skills you will need in your degree and beyond. By responding to a series of short statements, the 301 Skills Audit will help you to identify your strengths and priorities for further development, and will generate a personalised action plan to help you narrow your skills gaps.

Taking no more than five minutes to complete, this can be a helpful starting point to set priorities and goals to work on, and reflect back on your process: you can take the Skills Audit as many times as you would like, so making use of it over the course of your degree will allow you to keep track of your progress.

Learning to set your own priorities for skills development and keeping a record of your progress is a skill needed throughout university and beyond into the world of employment, so now is a great time to get started!

Take a skills audit here.

Skills Audit Icon

Weeks 5-8

Now that your studies are really underway, the autumn semester may feel intense. Challenges of different shapes and sizes are likely to present themselves. You are likely to encounter your first deadlines and receive your first feedback on your academic work. Now that you’re putting your skills into practice and gaining feedback, you might encounter some specific issues you would like to discuss. Remember to make use of our 1:1 tutorial service if you would like to speak individually with a study skills tutor, online or in-person.

Courses with low contact time may require a lot of self-motivation and discipline, whereas full diaries can feel draining and relentless. It is important to balance university studies with plenty of ‘down time’. Taking breaks for exercise, socialising and relaxation will help you study effectively. Hopefully with time and practice, you will find your rhythm, but the wellbeing resource below can point you in the direction of any mental health or wellbeing services you may need.

Below are some recommended study skills resources to complement your first semester, as you start to work on credit-bearing assessment. If you have been away from education for a while, or would like a refresher on the expectations involved in university essay writing, the resources on essay structure and planning, developing an academic argument, and using academic sources might be especially helpful for you. If you are getting to grips with referencing, see the library referencing guide, which includes links to their workshops and online tutorials on referencing for beginners.

All students can benefit from accessing the core resource below on critical reading and writing, especially those who have had a break from studying, who are new to higher education, or have been used to the academic conventions of a different country. In assessments you have undertaken in the earlier stages of your education, there may have been an emphasis on memorising and replicating existing information, but at university level in the UK, students are often assessed for their ability to think critically about the information they have researched and presented (see this resource for more information on how assessments are designed around critical thinking).

For some students, writing critically (or expressing critical thought in seminars) can feel intimidating, as you may feel that you aren’t qualified to evaluate the information you are learning about. This is not true! You are a part of the academic life of the university in your own right, and university study is designed to help you adopt this mindset, fostering your own critical voice. You will critically question the information around you, developing your own perspectives, which you will express through your own academic arguments. See underneath the table for more information and resources about critical thinking.

301 logo Resource Core/Recommended/Optional Description Time Commitment
LOGOinteractiveresource Critical reading and writing Core

Interactive Digital Workshop

Workshop Recording

Live Workshop

30 mins (Interactive Digital Workshop, Workshop Recording)

1 hour (Live Workshop)

LOGOonlineresource Essay structure and planning Recommended

Online Resources

Live Workshop

30 mins (Online Resource)

1 hour (Live Workshop)

LOGOworkshoprecording Developing an academic argument Recommended

Online Resource

Workshop Recording

Live Workshop

30 mins (Online Resource, Workshop Recording)

1 hour (Live Workshop)

LOGOworkshoprecording Paraphrasing and using academic sources Recommended

Workshop Recording

Live Workshop

45 mins (Workshop Recording)

1 hour (Live Workshop)

LOGOworkshoprecording Presentation skills Recommended

General presentation skills: Online Resource

Online presentation skills: Online Resource

Workshop Recording

Live Workshop

30 mins (Online Resources)

35 mins (Workshop Recording)

1 hour (Live Workshop)

LOGOonlineresource Scientific writing and lab reports Optional

Online Resource

Live Workshop

30 mins (Online Resource

1 hour (Live Workshop)

LOGOonlineresource Maths and Statistics online resources Optional

Maths Online Resources

Statistics Online Resources

N/A
LOGOsignpost Mental Wellbeing Optional Other Service N/A

After you have watched the ‘Critical Thinking and Writing’ workshop, in the buttons below, there are further online resources which you can use to ease yourself into the art of critical writing. The ‘Critical vs Descriptive Writing’ worksheet shows you the difference between describing pre-existing information, and using your own critical voice to evaluate that information. It shows that critical thinking isn’t always intended in a negative sense, and that much of the time, critical thinking is about relating your ideas back to your argument and showing why those ideas are important.

Use the glossary of essay terms below to check the meaning of the action words in your assignment descriptions, e.g. analyse, evaluate, to familiarise yourself with the critical thinking skills you are being asked to use. These terms have their own specific meanings, which can also give you a hint as to the essay structure you should use in your answer. (For more on this, see the ‘Essay structure and planning’ resources above). The Manchester Academic Phrasebank contains sentence starters for writing critically in your essays.

Critical vs Descriptive Writing Glossary of Essay Terms Manchester Academic Phrasebank

Survey

Please share your experiences so far. Have a go at answering the following questions and submit the form to record your responses (a copy will be emailed to you). You will then be able to see how other students have responded to these questions.

(Please note: your responses will be anonymous.)

Weeks 9-12

You are likely to be entering a busy period in the semester where you may have upcoming deadlines for assignments and the possibility of January exams on the horizon. 301 has a range of support and guidance available to support you in your assessments, whatever form they may take.

At this stage it would be useful to refresh your awareness of the guidance provided by your department regarding the structure and format of your assessments. This will help you to prepare most effectively and place you in a strong position to identify areas where you would like to develop your skills and the 301 resources that may help you to achieve this.

You may be encountering different forms of assessment for the first time. We have therefore developed our assessment resources to help you aim for the highest marks across a range of different assessment types.

With assessments, deadlines and exams, these final weeks of the semester may be an especially busy period for you. The first step needed to get the ball rolling with organising your time is to note down your key deadline and exam dates as soon as you receive them (for exam dates and information, see the SSiD exam pages). This way, you can plan ahead based on the amount of time you have left.

The Exam Revision Planning workshop below gives recommendations for how you can go about this planning process. It may also be a good time to revisit the resources on time management and avoiding distractions that were covered in weeks 1-4 of the course.

Many students react to the pressure of assignments and revision by procrastinating (putting off tasks until a later date). If you are beginning to procrastinate, see the workshop below for tips on beating procrastination and getting the ball rolling with your assignments. Underneath the table, you can find some more information on the Pomodoro Technique, an effective time management strategy that would be especially helpful for managing your time and beating procrastination during the assessment period.

Below is a range of recommended study skills resources that you may find useful when preparing for and undertaking your assessments. You are likely to be familiar with some of the concepts covered below, but you may want to refresh your knowledge. Remember that you can book for a 1:1 study skills tutorial to discuss any further questions you may have.

301 logo Resource Core/Recommended/Optional Description Time Commitment
LOGOonlineresource Preparing for online assessments Core Online resources 30 mins
LOGOonlineresourceLOGOworkshoprecording Exam revision planning Core

Online Resource

Workshop Recording

Live Workshop

30 mins (Online Resource, Workshop Recording)

1 hour (Live Workshop)

LOGOonlineresourceLOGOworkshoprecording Exam technique Recommended

Online Resource

Short Answer and MCQs: Workshop Recording or Live Workshop

Essay Based Exams: Workshop Recording (online exams) or Live Workshop

30-45 mins (Workshop Recordings, Online Resources)

1 hour (Live Workshops)

LOGOonlineresource Proofreading Recommended

Proofreading information: Online resource

Proofreading checklist: Online resource

30 mins
LOGOonlineresource Beating procrastination Optional

Live Workshops:
Face-to-face
Online

1 hour
LOGOonlineresource Memory techniques for revision Optional

Workshop Recording

Live Workshop

30 mins (Workshop Recording)

1 hour (Live Workshop)

The Pomodoro technique is one time management strategy that might be especially helpful during this busy period of exams and assignments. Breaking your work into 25 minute bursts of focused study, this technique allows you to maximise your concentration levels, planning in regular breaks to break away from your screen and rest your mind. For more information, see the embedded video and the time management resources above.

Next Steps

The start of the spring semester marks a significant milestone. You are likely to have now submitted and received feedback on your first work at university. It is a good time to reflect on your studies: what has gone well? What have been your biggest challenges? Which academic skills should you focus on developing?

Feedback on your semester one work can help you identify your strengths and areas for improvement. One of the best ways to learn is by hearing others’ reflections and thoughts on our own understanding. Put simply, feedback is any kind of response you get to the work you do: as such, we get feedback all the time, in many different forms.

Now is a great time to familiarise yourself with the resources on offer at the university to record and develop your skills. You can use the university’s Feedback Portal to record and reflect on any academic feedback you receive. You can also use the Careers Service’s new mySkills resource to keep a record of your broader skills development, e.g. any extracurricular skills you have developed over the last semester.

To assist you in reflecting on your feedback and your progress to date, we would recommend that you make use of the resources below:

301 logo Resource Core/Recommended/Optional Description Time Commitment
LOGOworkshoprecordingLOGOonlineresource Putting your feedback into practise Recommended

Workshop Recording

Online Resources

30 mins
LOGOworkshoprecording Reflecting on your academic progress Recommended

Workshop Recording

Online Resource

Live Workshop

30 mins (Workshop Recording, Online Resource)

1 hour (Live Workshop)


Circle of Learning

Having worked through these resources, you will probably have begun to identify a circle of development that occurs as your skills progress. Once you learn and develop new skills, you will use them in everyday life (not just within academia), reflect upon them and then build on them further. No matter what age you are, you never stop developing/honing in on the skills you have and reflecting on your work and practice. The following may help to consolidate and gain recognition for this developmental process:

Skills Audit

You hopefully took a skills audit at the beginning of the semester, most likely at pre-arrival/intro week. It would be a good idea to consider retaking the audit now that the semester is finished. It can be extremely valuable to review and reflect back on your progress over time, while identifying priorities and goals to work on in the future. Hopefully, it will give you the right momentum to set you up for the next semester.

Skills Audit Screenshot

Academic Skills Certificate Logo

Academic Skills Certificate

If you want to gain recognition for developing your skills and reflecting on your experience (which you will be doing following this course) you can work towards the Academic Skills Certificate. It acknowledges not only your commitment to enhancing your academic skills but also your employability skills and personal development. Simply put, if you are already working towards it why not get proper recognition for all of your hard work! It is also important to celebrate their achievements (e.g. planning a nice activity for yourself).

Evaluation Survey

This marks the end of this programme. Congratulations on making it to the end! We hope that you have found it useful and we would very much value any comments or feedback (see it is used frequently in all aspects of life!) you may have. Please complete our evaluation survey to share your experiences of this resource with us, helping us to develop the programme for the future.

Please note: your responses will be anonymous.


Further information

Please explore the tabs below for further information on these key aspects of your learning experience:

MySkills Portfolio

Level Up Your Academic Skills focuses on the key academic skills that will support you in your studies, however, during your time at the University of Sheffield you will have the opportunity to develop a wide range of skills and attributes through your course, your work experience and extracurricular activities. You can reflect on and record these using mySkills, an innovative new way for you to assess, record, build and reflect on your own skills profile.

Find out more about mySkills here

This short video introduces MySkills and highlights how you may want to use it to build a portfolio of skills development and experience to use for future employment opportunities.

Online learning

Although most of your course will involve face-to-face activities such as lectures, seminars, lab classes and practicals, you are likely to experience some online elements to your course as well. Online learning allows you to access your course materials remotely and in a flexible way, developing your ability to learn independently. However, it may also be a new and unfamiliar experience that requires new skills and study strategies. These resources provide a starting point for understanding the practicalities and challenges of online learning:

Study Skills Online: Online Learning

Below are some of our suggestions for online tools that can help you to organise yourself, manage your time, and block out digital distractions for online learning. For further suggestions, see this guide to using digital learning tools.

Useful Outside Resources Description
Calendarpedia
Calendarpedia allows you to download templates, print off and display at your workstation and develop an overview of deadlines for coursework.
Trello Trello helps with organising and creating a to-do list by creating decks of cards for tasks, adding sub-tasks to set deadlines and noting what actions are done.
Evernote It syncs notes across devices, organizes folders, searches text, adds tags to notes and allows you to collaborate with others.
Website Blockers Apps or software you can install on your phone and/or computer to block out the internet, apps and games for a certain amount of time as needed. They allow you to streamline your attention to the work that matters/needs to be focused on.
Remember the Milk Free tool that is compatible with every device and it allows you to sync all your devices for easier time management. The app can help you manage your tasks easily and remind you of them - wherever you are. You can share tasks and lists with others (great for teams)
Focus Keeper This app is based on the principle of the Pomodoro Technique and can help deal with procrastination for people who feel overwhelmed by tasks.
Academic Skills for Wellbeing

Making the transition to a new level of study can be a challenging experience. It may involve moving to a completely new environment and it may involve working with a greater level of independence. Whilst this can be exciting and present lots of new opportunities, it can also be daunting and take some getting used to. The resources below explore the connection between your study skills and your wellbeing, and highlight the wellbeing support services on offer at the university:

Study Skills Online: Academic Skills for Wellbeing

Below are some other services that you might find helpful if you need any further support or advice:

Student Wellbeing Service

The Student Wellbeing Service offers single session (40-minute) appointment with the Wellbeing Advisor in your faculty.

Student Access to Mental Health Support (SAMHS)

Student Access to Mental Health Support (SAMHS) is a single point of contact for students at all levels to access psychological support.

University Health Service

You can speak to your GP at the University’s Health Service, (or the local GP practice where you are registered).

Sheffield Nightline and The Samaritans

You can also speak anonymously and confidentially for advice and support at any time to Sheffield Nightline, or The Samaritans.

If you are in crisis: SSiD

In the event of an emergency or if you are in crisis, please visit the SSiD Emergency Contacts pages.

Book a Workshop

Book a 1:1 Tutorial

Academic Skills Certificate