FINALS & RESEARCH PROJECTS

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It’s the season for exams, research projects and comps! This can be stressful for all students–I know, for me, I can always think of one more thing (at least) that I could’ve/should’ve done to prepare better, be more thorough, etc.

Having a plan, familiarizing yourself with available resources and being able to use the tools available most effectively is critical! This is especially true for those of us who must maximize every second available. This article is dedicated to those three things: planning, resources and effectively using tools.

Proper planning often means the difference between acing an exam/final project and getting a less than desirable grade to add to your transcript. There are some proven methods that you can easily use to help insure that you maximize your time, minimize stress, and achieve the grade you want.

  1. Save your sources! We have all been researching something and thought, “that’s a great article, but not for this paper.” Save it! It will in turn save you so much time later! You can do this by creating a digital library/database of your favorite articles through citeyoulike or iCyte.  If decide to do this in a word doc that you can save to your desktop, you may enjoy looking at some examples at https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/614/03/. Just remember, if you’re doing it for personal use, you don’t have to concern yourself with creating a perfect document. The idea is to create a reference tool for yourself that will save you time on future projects.
  2. Don’t wait until the last minute! Work on your project(s) and/or study for your exam(s) in chunks. This may sound idealistic, but it’s actually quite doable, even with all of life’s other obligations. “Time-chunking” may mean that you set your alarm 30 minutes earlier than normal or use your 15 minute break at work to study or find peer reviewed journals for your project. While that doesn’t sound all that appealing on the surface, the rewards reaped are great! You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish! In fact, this strategy is more effective for long-term retention of material!
  3. Take time to breathe, literally! Research has shown that cardio boosts brain power and improves your memory! It also minimizes stress and increases your energy, allowing you to achieve more with less time!
  4. The old adage goes, “you are what you eat” and this carries greater truth than we originally thought. Yes, eating before you sit down to finalize your paper or take your exam is important, but what you eat is also extremely important. You will want to focus on brain-boosting foods and drinks; not brain-blocking. Research suggests that high-carb, high-fiber, slow-digesting foods like oatmeal are best. Learn more about the impact of nutrition on performance at http://www.goodluckexams.com/what-to-eat-before-an-exam/ and http://her.oxfordjournals.org/content/26/6/1086.full.
  5. Practice good time management: It’s no secret that when we procrastinate we feel a great deal of pressure and anxiety. Our performance is negatively impacted anytime we’re pressed for time, whether it’s studying for an exam or finalizing our research paper. Much of the pressure and anxiety that comes with procrastination can be easily avoided with proper planning, organization and realistic expectations. The one strategy that has helped me most as a student/wife/mom/full-time employee/cub scout leader 🙂 is having all of my due dates available at a glance. Each semester I take a few extra minutes to print each syllabus and add due dates to my main calendar. This keeps me on track and helps me keep my school work on the “front burner.”

Where To Get Help

  1. Technical Assistance can be found through WKU’s IT Helpdesk. They are open 7 days a week and provide services online via chat and help request, as well as by phone. Visit www.wku.edu/it/helpdesk.
  2. Research and Library Assistance: WKU Libraries provides an extensive collection of peer reviewed journals, refereed articles, and research guides. They also have subject specific librarians available to assist you with your research topic. Visit www.wku.edu/online/srp and click on the Library Services tab to access these services and more!
  3. Writing Assistance: Are you having difficulty narrowing the topic for your paper? Do you need help improving the organization and flow? The WKU Writing Center will assist you! They will work with you one-on-one through a live or recorded session – whatever best meets your needs. To learn more, visit http://www.wku.edu/online/srp/writing-center.php.
  4. Online Presentation Coaching: If you would like feedback on your virtual presentation, the Online Presentation Coaching Center is here to help! The Center provides a unique opportunity for you to receive feedback on your delivery technique, structure/flow and transitions, along with helpful instructions for Tegrity setup, as well as troubleshooting suggestions. The purpose of the Center is to provide you with a secure location to practice and improve your skills before submitting your final project to your professor.
  5. Career services, counseling, tutoring and a variety of free tools for organization, time management, research, and more are available through the Student Resource Portal at http://www.wku.edu/online/srp/.
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