What Teaching Study Skills REALLY Involves

The long term effects of learning to study can stretch much further than than the average high school sophomore may think.


Bart’s Story

When Bart started school with a half-tuition scholarship that would renew yearly pending his GPA performance, his college career future looked bright.  Once classes began, however, he says he “blew off” his classes and lost the scholarship after two semesters.  This required him to get a part time job on campus, and eventually a full time job–ultimately extending the time until graduation as he had to cut back on classes in order to function.  He hadn’t realized the thousands of dollars he could lose–beyond just the scholarship itself–until it was too late.

Declining Studying Stats

Bart’s story is becoming an increasingly familiar one for college students.  Research shows a significant decline in time students are devoting to their studies.  Until the 1960’s, undergraduates spent about 40 hours per week academically.  Today, that number is down to 27 hours each week–which includes both class time and studying.  The time spent on studying alone is comparable; in 1961, it was 25 hours per week–by 2003, it had whittled down to 13 hours.

The Math and Money of Study Time

Bart urges other students to carefully examine the monetary value of their time spent studying.  Below are some figures to consider:

  • $19 per hour: studying 13 hours per week over a 16-week, $4,000 tuition semester
  • $10 per hour: studying 25 hours per week over a 16-week, $4,000 tuition semester
  • $67 per hour: studying 13 hours per week over a 16-week, $14,000 tuition semester
  • $35 per hour: studying 25 hours per week over a 16-week, $14,000 tuition semester

Whatever the tuition rate, the value of time spent studying to keep up grades and scholarships is worth more than the $7.25 minimum wage jobs students would otherwise need to work.

Genuine Preparation for the Future

University of the Fraser Valley students and teachers. Rick Collins Photography - UFV 1-604-799-0219
University of the Fraser Valley students and teachers.

Informing our students of the numbers listed above is just one small step in preparing them for the realities of college and beyond.  We believe that it is paramount that students cultivate intrinsic motivation if we hope they will dedicate every effort required to succeed in their desired field as adults.  What do the child who has always been denied sugar and the student who always been denied opportunities for self-directed learning have in common?  Both are likely to spend their time and resources unwisely the moment they gain autonomy.

That said, we also find value in encouraging “college and career readiness” strategies to help students view the long term effects of developing study skills.  An example might be teaching a third grader to develop stamina in reading a book without distraction.

As we empower students to develop such motivation and skills, our expectations of them should remain high–not out of pressure-inducing fear that they could otherwise fail in the “real world,” but out of belief in their ability succeed.  This is key in fostering the kind of love of learning now that will truly prepare them prepare them for the future.

What are some ways you prepare students for the future while still encouraging them to live and learn with passion now?  Share in comments below!

Sources:

Campo, Carlos. Jan. 29, 2013. “A Challenge to College Students for 2013: Don’t Waste Your 6,570.” Huffington Post.

Photo Credit:

Featured Image: Francois de Halleux

University of the Fraser Valley

 

 

2014 Scholarship Awardees

The time has come! June 17th, the day we announce! The winners have been emailed, and once they accept their award, we will begin the process for sending out each $1,000 prize.

Behold, the Winners:
  1. Christine Lee, accepted
  2. Anderson Vereyken, accepted
  3. Jamie Lagman, accepted
  4. Tory Rose Full, accepted
  5. Nakoma Ehrhart, accepted

Each of their prize is a $1,000 check to their University in their name.

If You Didn’t Win:

Try again next year! This time we’re opening the prompt to multi-media endeavors to give people of all creative backgrounds a chance.

If you would like to know your score and why you didn’t win, send brittany@honorsgraduation.com an email!

Thank you everyone for your participation!

Featured Image:

Colink.

10 Tips for Rockstar Resumes!

Much about 21st century job searching has changed, but resumes remain an important aspect.  Check out our tips for a strong resume, as well as suggestions for more modern approaches.


5 Tips for a Traditional Resume

#1: Be genuine!

Make every word count!  Avoid nonsense terms that don’t truly add meaning (Check out this article with the best and worst phrases that experts see on resumes!).  Employers can see through insincerity right away, and that’s NOT the kind of first impression you want to make!

#2: Be careful with your objective

Conflicting opinions (for and against) alert!  If you do include an objective, keep these two, closely-related pointers in mind:

  1. Tailor it to position for which you apply!  Just as each company, school, and organization varies in its priorities, so should your objective reflect how you can meet their unique needs.
  2. As Richard White points out in his article:  “…It is not about how you can benefit from the company, but how the company can benefit from you.” For this reason, your objective should not say what you hope to get out of working there!  We recommend starting with a brief description of yourself, followed by what you would truly contribute if hired by the company.  For example: Highly enthusiastic teacher with a passion for educational technology seeks to contribute to increased technology effectiveness in the classroom.
#3: Skip your address

Donna Svei shares the risk in her article, “The Real Reason You Shouldn’t Put Your Address on Your Resume.” She cautions that if you would need to commute, employers definitely take note of the your potential burn-out liability.  Instead, she recommends you put down your most recent employer’s city location.

#4: Quantify and Qualify with power verbs & nouns

Strunk and White’s tip to “write with nouns and verbs” in their book, Elements of Style, is true in resume writing, too!  Beginning each accomplishment with a power verb & using specific nouns can help focus your description (ie, instead of “Helped with training new teachers,” try “Mentored 3 first-year teachers through peer observations, coaching, and co-teaching.”).  However, be conscious of tip #1 as you do so–make sure these are honest and objective descriptors!  This word cloud of power verbs gives you a visual of the most commonly recommended power verbs we compiled from the sources listed below.

Power Verbs Word Cloud

#5: Create a proper balance between white space & text

Be sure to utilize indentations to make your resume easy to scan through!


5 Tips for 21st Century Resume Writing

#1: Recognize the need for a traditional paper resume

Many companies now have online systems in place for applicants to type in all the information from their resumes.  However, it’s still valuable to have on hand a paper copy for interviews, job fairs, and other instances of personal contact.

#2: Have your resume ready for digital sharing

We’ve seen other companies that simply ask you to enter a link to your resume.  Make sure you have a shareable version ready to go, such as a PDF downloaded in Google Drive!

#3: Consider a visual resume

The changes in a visual resume may be as subtle as adding blocks of color to organize your presentation, or it may be as dramatic as adding charts.  This can be an eye-catching and efficient approach to your resume-writing.  However, be sure to check out this article for some disadvantages to consider, too, such as the incompatibility with ATS (automatic tracking systems).

#4: Consider a creative resume
Emilie Ogez
Emilie Ogez

A creative tier above visual resumes is the infographic route!  This is a more obvious choice for those in creative fields, such as designers, but it could also be an opportunity to stand out if you’re willing to take the risk!  See some examples of Infographics resumes on Pinterest!

#5: Consider your audience!

Evaluate the company’s characteristics.  Is it a more established, traditional organization, or does it have more of an entrepreneurial history?  Chances are that if it’s the former, you’ll want to stick with more traditional resumes and objectives.  If it’s the latter, employers may appreciate your gutsiness in trying out bolder strategies.

Photo Credit:

When & How to Cite Social Media: A Student Guide

Sure, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media may be a great place for exchanging selfies and cat videos, but what about when you come across legitimate information in social media that backs up your research?


Over the course of the past couple decades, we have moved from card catalogs, to library computer searches, to articles published online, and now on to social media!  It can feel overwhelming to keep up with the most modern methods of research, especially when it comes to the various APA or MLA citation formats.  Hopefully, this post will be a useful resource for you as you decide when and how to cite social media finds!

How

The TeachByte graphic below is an excellent general guide for both MLA and APA citations.  However, as anyone who has done any research knows, certain instances can get more complicated than general guidelines.  For instance, what if you want to cite an expert who sent you a personal communication, and it’s not publicly visible for audiences to click on?  Or how do you know how to cite in-text vs. your bibliography reference list?  The official APA blog answers these questions and more in greater detail using examples from their post in October!

via TeachBytes
via TeachBytes

When

As with all research, you will want to make sure there is plenty of variety among your sources.  Just because it is now acceptable to cite social media does not mean it should consume most of your bibliography.  Additionally, because of the unique nature of social media Tweets, posts, and videos in that they can go viral even if they are inaccurate, you will want to be particularly careful when considering whether to use one.  The information literacy website, EasyBib, provides an excellent Infographic to help you in that decision-making process.

EasyBib Infographic
EasyBib

Remember…

…It’s all about giving each individual the credit they deserve for their efforts and ideas!  When in doubt, discuss your concerns with your teacher or professor!

Photo Sources:

Pete Simon (featured image)

TeachBytes

EasyBib

Source:

Chelsea, L. (2013, Oct. 13). How to Cite Social Media in APA Style. [Web blog post]. Retrieved from: http://blog.apastyle.org/apastyle/2013/10/how-to-cite-social-media-in-apa-style.html

Foreign Language Programs: A Basic Review

Seeing that one out of three Americans can speak a second language with conversational fluency, it’s probably safe to assume that most people have a desire to expand their vocabulary to include a foreign tongue. Between everyone at the Honors Grad U offices, we hold a ratio of 1:1 foreign language speakers: Spanish is spoken fluently by 1/4 in the office, with everyone having some sort of Spanish education at some point. Other languages include French, Chinese, and even Tagalog (Filipino language). With all of this experience, we’ve decided to put together this review and list of resources for learning foreign languages:


Getting Started: Choosing a Language

One of the hardest things to decide when you’re thinking about learning a foreign language is choosing which language to study. If you’re in the United States, the U.S. census released last year lists the largest minority as Hispanics, totaling around 38.8 million nationwide. If you’re American and want to communicate with the majority of people in the country, it just makes sense to go with Spanish (Latin American rather than Spain);

However, one of the greatest things about languages is you have hundreds to choose from! You can pick whatever you want! Maybe you want to travel, maybe you’re heritage is in Germany and you want to be able to speak to your grandmother that doesn’t know English–maybe you think Italian sounds cool and you want to do it “just because.” Whatever the reason for picking a language, these resources can help you:

Language Software for Purchase

Let’s just get this one out of the way. The three main language learning software are Rosetta Stone, Fluenz, and Pimsleur. Out of the Honors Grad family, we have some experience with Rosetta Stone, but none with Fluenz or Pimsleur. So what’s the difference? We took three of our Honors Grad family at the office and each went through demos for 2 languages per program.

#1: Fluenz

fluenz_logo

Fluenz prides themselves on having an “actual” tutor, instead of the immersion software used by Rosetta Stone. Here’s a snippet from the Fluenz website:

Rosetta Stone believes in fully immersing the student in the language, without using any English to explain phrases. Fluenz believes adults learn best when they can relate the grammar and syntax of a foreign language to the structure of the tongue they already know.

Fluenz offers 6 languages: Spanish (in both Latin American and Spanish dialects), French, Italian, German, Mandarin, and Portuguese. You can experience a demo version through their website (for all the languages). Our critiques:

Brittany:

I decided to do demos for Spanish and French. I have no prior experience with Fluenz. Right off the bat, Fluenz’s advertising seems bent on letting everyone know how much better they are than Rosetta Stone. They are less well-known, but seem sort of like the jealous sibling that’s willing to throw their competitor under the bus to prove how much better they are. Perhaps they should see if their work is good enough to stand on its own!

Cons:
  • Sonia Gill is difficult to watch. I wouldn’t be able to go through an entire lesson with her blinking at me every second. Like seriously. So blinky. Also she talks like a robot.
  • Moves too slowly. It pauses entirely too much and drove me crazy.
  • The “write the words you hear” part wasn’t very conveniently designed. They should play the recording immediately after I get the answer right on the previous one. That way I don’t have to lift my hands from the keyboard. #lazysowhat
  • Typing everything OVER AND OVER is a little redundant to me, and time consuming.
Pros:
  • I like the conversation you can listen to with subtitles. They talk at a normal pace, easily understandable, no limit as to how many times you can listen.
  • I like the word matching.
  • It’s really nice to see a mouth make the words. It’s easier to copy sounds when you can see the words.

Overall, I’d say that I’d rather pay for an actual tutor or class so that I can move at my own pace and not have to wait for every pause in the little ten minute lessons. Also, is there a way to track progress? Do they test where you’re at, or your comprehension level at all?

Ashley:

I knew nothing about Fluenz before starting. I hadn’t even heard of it. I decided to do demos in Spanish and German.

Cons:
  • Boring videos to introduce each section
  • “Workouts” seem to test skills not covered in the lessons.
  • People in videos are obnoxious–slow, long pauses, like we don’t speak English in addition to whatever we’re trying to learn. Possibly because they don’t speak English very fluently.
  • It jumps around a lot, rather than learning one concept at a time.
  • Feels like what I’m learning is mainly superficial, to get me through the “workouts.” I didn’t/don’t feel comfortable speaking what I learned afterward.
Pros:
  • Taught by native speakers
  • Flexible pace
  • Maintain the same settings for multiple lessons, so we can get comfortable with all conversation in a single place before moving on.

Overall, I didn’t feel like it was much more helpful or effective than a high school level language class.

Mary:

It has a clean, transparent interface on the homepage. I’d never heard of Fluenz before, so it was helpful that they even had a “Compare Us” tab on the front page to fit it into what I was already familiar with. They also have an easy-to-access “Live Chat” feature, which is helpful as I find my way around a new resource! I chose to do the Spanish and German sample sessions.

Cons:
  • I found myself getting distracted by the light reflecting on Sonia Gill’s hair as she kept tilting her head this way and that–and she sounded like a robot in the German one!
  • The pace was incredibly slow, but that might just be because I did introductory sessions, and I have some Spanish experience already.
  • I wish it would list how many workouts there are so you know whether you’re close to finishing the session or not!
  • I wish it would just move on if you click or type the correct answer (maybe with an animated bubble popping up to say you’re right, or saying what you’re missing if you’re wrong). Instead, you have to keep clicking “Next” over and over!
Pros:
  • The meanings and structure of sentences are broken down very clearly. (kind of cool animations in conjunction with Sonia Gill!)
  • It’s nice that all the settings are at the top of the screen during the “workouts” so you can easily turn off the music or check how to add a Spanish accent on your keyboard.
  • Pleasant backgrounds
  • Variety of workouts

Final Comments and Pricing:

The cost for levels 1-5 of all languages is $358, except Mandarin and Portuguese which offer levels 1-5 for $298 and $278, respectively.

#2: Pimsleur

Pimsleur

An audio-based language learning system that is available on any device that plays mp3 audio clips. From their website:

The heart of the Pimsleur Method is the audio lesson. You listen. You participate. You learn … exactly like a young child who picks up a language effortlessly.

They offer a number of languages: Albanian, Arabic (Easter, Egyptian, or Modern Standard), Armenian (Eastern or Western), Chinese (Cantonese or Mandarin), Croatian, Czech, Danish, Persian (Dari or Farsi), Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Haitian Creole, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Ojibwe, Pashto, Polish, Portuguese (Brazilian or European), Punjabi, Romanian, Russian, Spanish (Latin American or Castilian), Swahili, Swedish, Swiss German, Tagalog, Thai, Turkish, Twi, Ukrainian, Urdu, Vietnamese–and even English for the ESL students out there!

The ESL languages are English for Arabic, Cantonese, Mandarin, Farsi, French, German, Haitian, Hindi, Italian, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese speakers. That’s pretty thorough.

Brittany:

I decided to do Spanish and French. I have no prior experience with Pimsleur.

Cons:
  • It’s hard to hear the sounds being made without seeing a mouth sometimes.
  • 30 minutes is kind of long. I’d hate to lose my place and have to try to find it again.
  • They say you can do it from wherever, but I found that I sometimes had to pause to think about what I needed to say. You can’t do that easily if you’re running around. You’d definitely need to be somewhere to give it your full attention.
  • Sort of boring without images.
  • You obviously don’t learn to write the language.
Pros:
  • They go through each sound, instead of repeating words endlessly and expecting you to guess.
  • Straight to the point, no fluff.

The whole audio-only is something that would work maybe for a very specific group of people. For me, it was easily tiresome and boring. Also, I would want to learn to write the language, not just speak it. That means I’d have to buy other products to go along with Pimsleur, which is obviously annoying.

Ashley:

I have heard of Pimsleur, but I don’t know anything about the program. I’ve had one or two friends mention it as a good language program. Guess it’s time to see if I can continue to trust them… I did Spanish and German.

Cons:
  • Cheesy music
  • Wish he would stop reminding me to speak aloud
  • A lot of repetition of words out of context. Not a particularly good method for learning real communication.
  • So……bored…so much….repetition….
  • This is literally a half hour lesson dedicated to two sentences
Pros:
  • Cheesy music
  • I definitely know how to ask if someone understands English. Oh, wait, I forgot 5 seconds later…

Since this is just audio/oral learning, I’m guessing the goal is to make it easy to listen and learn while doing other things. But for me, at least, language requires more focus than that, so it just ends up being boring and repetitive without any actual retention.

Mary:

On first impression, I feel like Pimsleur is a bit “in your face” in trying to sell you the product, rather than giving you information about their software.  I didn’t have any prior familiarity with the software, and I chose to try out the sample lessons in Spanish and German.

Cons:
  • I got distracted pretty easily just because it’s audio-only–and I was just sitting on my couch. I don’t know if I could multi-task while listening to this very well!
  • I don’t think you would learn the conjugations and structures of the language very well (ie, when to use the conjugation of various verbs) because it never directly explains the difference between using verbs for different pronouns–but maybe that was just the sample session!
  • WAY too much repetition in one session!
Pros:
  • Shorter intro, and I feel like things get to the point a lot faster in general
  • Breaks down the pronunciation of the parts of words to help improve your accuracy.

Final Comments and Pricing:

For being an audio-only software, Pimsleur can be fairly pricey. Each product lists five 30-minute sessions at $21.95. Per 30 sessions, the price depends on the popularity of the language. For example, their most popular languages (Latin American Spanish, French, Italian, German, Mandarin, and Japanese) are all $119.95. That, however, is only for the mp3 version. For a CD version, the price increases to $345. Each set of 30 sessions is considered a unit. Spanish, French, Italian, German and Mandarin all have 4 units. Japanese has 3, and most others have only 1.

The price also decreases for less popular languages. Armenian, Irish, and Lithuanian, for example, are only $41.95 per unit (of which there is only one, containing only 10 lessons instead of 30).

You can buy all units of Spanish, French, Italian, German, and Mandarin for $450 on mp3, or for $970 in CD form.

#3: Rosetta Stone

LOGO_RosettaStone-1024x434

Most people only know about Rosetta Stone when it comes to language learning software. It is indeed the most heavily advertised and most successful of the three, but is that just because it came first, or because it really deserves to be there? The reason it is such an acclaimed software is because of the immersion techniques used. From their website:

The company was founded in 1992 on the core beliefs that learning to speak a language should be a natural and instinctive process, and that interactive technology can activate the language immersion method powerfully for learners of any age.

Rosetta Stone offers 28 different languages: Arabic, Hebrew, Polish, Mandarin Chinese, Hindi, Portuguese, Dari, Indonesian, Russian, Dutch, Irish, Spanish (Latin or Spain), Italian, English (American or British), Japanese, Swahili, Filipino (Tagalog), Korean, Swedish, French, Latin, Turkish, German, Pashto, Urdu, Greek, Persian (Farsi), and Vietnamese.

Brittany:

I did really well in Spanish in high school, so my dad bought me Rosetta Stone in Latin American Spanish when I was in 12th grade. It’s safe to say I have experience with it. I decided to try demos in Spanish and French.

Cons:
  • Literally nothing. I’m realizing now I might be biased, but the only thing I can think of is that their demo is very brief and barely indicates the capacity of their software.
Pros:
  • It doesn’t just test memorization, as indicative by switching the images around.
  • You can move at your own pace.
  • There are clear visual associations.
  • UM LIVE TRAINING YES PLEASE

In the end, Rosetta Stone seems like the clear option. It’s changed a bit since I got it in 2008, but I’d make the same choice! I think it comes down to how much effort you’re willing to put in. I imagine it’s the difference between a fancy gym membership and a not-so-fancy gym membership: you’re still going to come away better than you were. I think it would come down to the best “bang-for-your-buck” scenario. Ugh, I can’t believe I used the phrase “bang-for-your-buck.”

Ashley:

I have used Rosetta Stone a little bit before, and I think it is a fun program, however, I don’t feel like my short experiences with it yielded any real results, so I’m not sure about retention. Once again, Spanish and German.

Cons:
  • Easy to move quickly through the program without any actual retention
  • Calling it “immersion” is misleading. You aren’t immediately immersed into full conversations. It can actually be a really slow program as you learn things word by word.
Pros:
  • Intuitive
  • Speech recognition
  • Learning what words mean by seeing them in context rather than in translation
  • Mobile apps

Seems like an actual improvement over high school courses. It isn’t a fast and easy course, but I think it has the capacity to be more helpful than the other programs if you are willing to put in the work.

Mary:

I’ve seen the Rosetta Stone commercials way too many times, complete with the smooth line, “The fastest way to learn a language,” so I had high expectations when I visited the website for the first time today!  It has a clean, easy-to-navigate interface, including different tabs depending on your use: personal, work, education, etc.  I did the demo for Spanish and German.

Cons:
  • I didn’t feel that the microphone picked up my voice very well if I spoke at the same pace the tutor did–only if I slowed way down.
Pros:
  • I like how it shows a complete timeline at the bottom to show how far you’ve progressed in the lesson, and how much you have left!
  • Gets straight to the point!
  • I like how it gives you feedback immediately on whether you’re correct or not, and then if you’re right, it moves on automatically without having to do extra clicking!
  • Much more comfortable in general with the words and phrases building naturally, and no long, awkward lessons from a filmed lecturer!

I found that Fluenz had lots of variety, but it just felt endless, and there were some user issues that annoyed me. Pimsleur served its purpose for an audio program, but I don’t know how effective it would really be (especially if you have audio issues like me!) Rosetta Stone was the only one that actually felt enjoyable, with smooth, effective design and variety.

Final Comments and Pricing:

The pricing for Rosetta Stone is done by levels. The most popular languages have 5 levels, which can be purchased for individuals at $324. That price is the same for digital copies or CDs. Shipping is free. You can purchase on a payment plan. There are different rates for business, schools, and other purchasing entities. Other less popular languages can have only a couple to 4 levels, or may not have levels at all and are only available for “online subscriptions” that are about 6 months long. We were unable to determine pricing for those languages.

———-

The Verdicts

After reviewing the demos, websites, and pricing for the three language software programs, the office has come to the following conclusions:

  1. Rosetta Stone is the clear choice. It’s cheaper, has more fun stuff, and the most popular software for a reason.
  2. Fluenz is not a rip-off, just slightly more expensive and less interactive.
  3. Pimsleur is rip-off. It’s more expensive by a mile, and only focuses on a small part of the language-learning process. The only way this would be beneficial is if you would like to learn a language that is not offered by Rosetta Stone, Fluenz, or any local classes, or even YouTube.

Price Breakdown:

If I wanted to learn Spanish and buy the full sets each program has to offer, I would be paying:

  • $450 for 4 levels of Spanish from Pimsleur, on an mp3 download. $970 for CDs.
  • $358 for 5 levels of Spanish from Fluenz, on CDs.
  • $324 for 5 levels of Spanish from Rosetta Stone, on CDs or as a download.

Other (Free) Language Resources

  • DuoLingo. Arguably the best free website/app you can find for learning a language.
  • Podcasts. Like Pimsleur, but free. Also sometimes funny.
  • StudyBlue. App and website, you can study the words you know and learn.
  • YouTube. Don’t knock it ’til you try it. There are always people on YouTube either speaking in your language or offering brief tutorials on specific facets of the language.
  • Skype. You have a friend you met on the internet that lives in your country of choice? Call ’em up on Skype and just talk to them for a bit! This will help a lot with your language and conversational skills. There are also websites on which you can pay for this service.
  • WordReference. A fantastic website that doubles as a dictionary and forum where you can ask about nuanced aspects of your language: slang and context, to name a couple.

If you’re going somewhere for a specific reason, say travel, you can often Google phrases like “Travel Spanish” and find awesome websites that tell you what you need to know. Make sure to double check anything that doesn’t sound right, and pick the right dialect!

Featured imagePulpolux !!!