Living and working in a knowledge-driven society is the challenging reality that most of us face these days.
There are many reasons why you might have a need to improve your qualifications or add to your skills profile: You may want to qualify for promotion, consider making a career change, or maybe you just want to be sure that you stay abreast of new developments in your industry.
Wits Plus, the Centre for Part-Time Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand, accommodates working professionals who want to further their studies by offering access to a wide range of accredited short courses and degrees on an after-hours basis.
What do you need?
‘Study skills’ can be described as the strategies and methods to manage learning efficiently and also make up an important set of transferable life skills. Study skills could include time management strategies, note taking and active listening abilities, as well as reading and analysis skills.
Study skills develop over time; for example, some students may retain information better when presented with visuals, while others absorb information efficiently through lectures and even through textbook readings. Part of developing good study skills is to acknowledge that people learn in different ways.
Develop your own study skills
You need to develop your own personal approach to study and learning in a way that suits your own individual needs. As you develop your study skills you will discover what works for you, and what doesn’t.
Study skills are generic and can be applied when studying any subject or course. You will, of course, need to understand the concepts, theories and ideas surrounding your specific subject area. To get the most out of your studies, however, you will want to continuously develop your study skills.
Practising and developing your study skills will increase your awareness of how you study and you’ll become more confident. Once mastered, study skills will be beneficial throughout your life. Study skills are transferable life skills that you can apply in all sorts of new contexts, and include organisational skills, time management, prioritising, analysing, problem solving, and the self-discipline needed to stay motivated.
Become a critical reader
Most of us read in everyday life for different purposes. We read to gain information for practical use, for example, a train timetable or a cinema listing. We may read fiction to be entertained or newspapers and magazines, in print or online format, to stay informed about current events.
Unlike most everyday reading though, academic reading should not be seen as a passive activity, but should be an active process that develops learning. Reading for learning requires a conscious effort to make links, understand opinions, do research and apply what you learn to your studies.
When you read while studying an academic course, your principal goal will be to gather information in order to answer assignment or exam questions. Underlying this is the more important goal of learning and development: To develop your thoughts, to incorporate new ideas into your existing understanding, to develop your knowledge and understanding and ultimately yourself.
Learning comes about not just from reading and remembering details, but from developing your understanding of the meaning of the details.