UniSkills

 

UniSkills

UniSkills is a package of workshops, online resources and face to face support to help you develop a range of essential academic skills to enable you to produce high quality University assignments.

Whatever your subject or level of study, UniSkills has something to offer.  Whether you’re just starting your very first assignment and want to learn about planning and structure, or are writing your final dissertation and need help with referencing, we can help you to boost your UniSkills! Use the tabs to find out more information about the resources, guides and workshops available.

Keep up-to-date with UniSkills by following Learning Services on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and on our blog.

Time Management

It is important to manage your time at University if you want to meet your academic deadlines and still have a life. The resources on this page have been designed to help improve your time management skills and make being organised that little bit easier.

Guides:

  • Evaluating Your Use of Time: Begin by finding out how you currently use your time and identify gaps you could be using more productively.
  • Planning Your Time: Discover the importance of having a plan. Use the Weekly Planner Template to plot your tasks and keep on top of what you need to complete and by when.
  • Prioritising Your Time: Making a plan is only half the battle, you also need to know how to prioritise the tasks you need to complete. Use the Priority Graph Template to determine if all tasks need to be completed and by when.
  • Getting Organised: Find out top tips that will save you time and help you feel more in control of your studies. Use the To Do List Template to plot out specific tasks to complete each week.
  • Dealing with Distractions: Do you know what your distractions are? Find out if your distractions are aiding procrastination and how you can deal with them better.
  • Using the Pomodoro Technique: Still struggling with managing your study time? Try the Pomodoro Technique, which promises to focus your studying to complete tasks in short, structured and timed study sessions.
  • The Crux of Time Management – This is a comprehensive article on time management written by Felix Bast – Professor at the Central University of Punjab.

Online Courses:

Workshops:

  • Attend one of our workshops that run throughout the academic year

Face to Face Support:

  • You can visit the Catalyst help desk (Ormskirk) or the help desks at Aintree and St James (Manchester)
  • Book a 1-2-1 appointment

Note Taking

Making notes at University will help you to make sense of what you are learning and to remember it later. Note making is a skill that grows with practice and during your studies you will have the opportunity to develop this skill further. There are lots of useful apps available that can help you to take effective notes in lectures and seminars, such as Evernote and OneNote.

Online Toolkits:

  • Launch our online interactive toolkit for Note Taking

Workshops:

  • Attend one of our workshops that run throughout the academic year

Face to Face Support:

  • You can visit the Catalyst help desk (Ormskirk) or the help desks at Aintree and St James (Manchester)
  • Book a 1-2-1 appointment

Assignment Planning

Planning should be a crucial part of your overall approach to academic writing. By planning your assignments thoroughly, you ensure that your work has a consistent, balanced structure and your arguments follow a logical flow with respect to the assignment question. The resources on this page will introduce you to useful techniques to help you with your plan and provide you with practical advice about essay structure.

Online Toolkits:

Guides:

Workshops:

  • Attend one of our workshops that run throughout the academic year

Face to Face Support:

  • You can visit the Catalyst help desk (Ormskirk) or the help desks at Aintree and St James (Manchester)
  • Book a 1-2-1 appointment

Finding Resources

The University library contains over 370,000 books and ebooks which can be found by searching the library catalogue. When you have chosen a book, make a note of the location and the shelfmark including any letters (e.g. 006.696 MEN). Use these details to find the book on the shelf. If all copies of the book you require are out on loan you can choose ‘reserve this item’. As soon as a copy is available you’ll receive an email to your University email account.

You can also access your reading list online.  Your reading list will contain books, journals and digital resources that your tutors have recommended.

Staff and students also have access to a wide range of online electronic resources including e-books, e-journals, journal databases and subject-specific resources. You can access high quality academic materials online by searching Discover More or visiting the ‘My Library‘ tab in Learning Edge for specialist subject resources. Access to online resources is provided using your staff or student log-in.

Online Toolkit:

Guides:

Workshops:

  • Attend one of our workshops that run throughout the academic year

Face to Face Support:

  • You can visit the Catalyst help desk (Ormskirk) or the help desks at Aintree and St James (Manchester)
  • Book a 1-2-1 appointment

Academic Writing

Writing at university may seem different to other writing experiences you’ve had, however it is important to realise that it is a process which you develop over time (and not overnight!). Using the resources on these pages can help you to improve your understanding of what is meant by key terms (such as ‘academic writing’ and ‘critical analysis’) and assist you to develop and enhance your own style of writing, whatever your subject or level of study.

Online Toolkits:

Guides:

Workshops:

  • Attend one of our workshops that run throughout the academic year

Face to Face Support:

  • You can visit the Catalyst help desk (Ormskirk) or the help desks at Aintree and St James (Manchester)
  • Book a 1-2-1 appointment

Dissertations

A dissertation differs from an essay at undergraduate level in that it will focus on a subject that you choose for yourself. However, while original thinking may be expected, it is unlikely that your dissertation will be based on a completely new topic. You are more likely to take an original perspective on an existing topic. Read through all module guidelines carefully and start thinking early about your choices for possible themes or topics. Importantly, the topic you choose should be something which you find interesting!

Here you will find a range of resources to help you with planning and writing your dissertation, however you should also discuss your ideas with your tutor who will be able to give you further advice.

Online Toolkit:

Guides:

Workshops:

  • Attend one of our workshops that run throughout the academic year

Face to Face Support:

  • You can visit the Catalyst help desk (Ormskirk) or the help desks at Aintree and St James (Manchester)
  • Book a 1-2-1 appointment

Referencing

Referencing the sources of information you use is an essential part of academic writing and your research so it’s important to get it right. Referencing is the acknowledgment of all the sources that have been cited in your assignment, whether you have quoted them directly or paraphrased. Accurate referencing in your assignment helps to direct your readers to the information you have used and enables you to show that you have researched your topic thoroughly

Online Toolkit:

Guides:

Workshops:

  • Attend one of our workshops that run throughout the academic year

Face to Face Support:

  • You can visit the Catalyst help desk (Ormskirk) or the help desks at Aintree and St James (Manchester)
  • Book a 1-2-1 appointment

Proofreading

When you’ve spent a long time writing your assignment we understand the last thing you want to do is spend even more time looking at it, but valuable marks can be retained through development of your proofreading skills.

We all make mistakes, and your brain can easily trick you into missing obvious errors in spelling, punctuation and grammar when you’ve become accustomed to your writing. Therefore, it is important to set aside time at the end of the writing and editing process to have a break…then come back to your work with fresh eyes to complete your proofreading.

Once you get in the swing of proofreading you will become familiar with the mistakes you make, and a good way to recognise and record these for your next assignment is to use a proofreading checklist.

Top Tools for Proofreading

  • Use Word Spelling & Grammar check
  • Use a Dictionary / Thesaurus
  • Use English grammar book or websites
  • Use each other: ask your friends / family – a fresh pair of eyes! – to give your writing a once over. They don’t have to fully understand the content,  just look for errors you may have missed!
  • Use a printer, pen, highlighter, post it notes – whatever works for you!
  • Use a Proofreading Checklist and add to it each time you receive feedback

Top Techniques for Proofreading

  • Give yourself time, factor proofreading time into your assignment planning and make sure you’re in the right mindset
  • Print your assignment out – increase line space to 1.5 or 2 for easy reading
  • Read out loud (or use software)
  • Read S L O W L Y
  • Read in sections from the bottom up – we don’t mean reading backwards (!) read your final paragraph first, then the second to last and then the third to last…
  • Once you’ve made all your changes in the document zoom out to check layout across the whole document

Guides:

Online Toolkits:

  • Launch our online interactive learning package for Proofreading
  • Launch our online interactive learning package for Punctuation

Workshops:

  • Attend one of our workshops that run throughout the academic year

Face to Face Support:

  • You can visit the Catalyst help desk (Ormskirk) or the help desks at Aintree and St James (Manchester)
  • Book a 1-2-1 appointment

Presentations

During your time at University, you may be expected to deliver a presentation which will form part of your course assessment. For many students, standing up and delivering a presentation to a group can be a challenging experience, but by giving yourself plenty of time for preparation and practice, you can learn how to deliver with confidence and make an impact with your chosen topic. Use the resources on this page to help you learn how to design and deliver a clear, informative and visually appealing presentation

Online Toolkits:

Online Courses:

Guides:

Workshops:

  • Attend one of our workshops that run throughout the academic year

Face to Face Support:

  • You can visit the Catalyst help desk (Ormskirk) or the help desks at Aintree and St James (Manchester)
  • Book a 1-2-1 appointment

UniSpeaks

UniSpeaks offers a safe space to practice speaking in front of an audience; be that your peers, tutors or even an interview panel. You can come along and listen to others present, have a go yourself and learn strategies to present with more confidence in a friendly and supportive environment.

Read more about our UniSpeaks ethos and how these sessions were developed.

Book your place and join us every last Wednesday of the month, 2pm-4pm, in Willow Training Room – 1st Floor Catalyst.

Online Submission

We know that when a deadline is approaching, submitting your final piece of work can be stressful enough without unexpected hitches, so try not to leave your submission till the last minute. Remember to give yourself space to breathe by preparing in advance and following the hints and tips below. If done correctly, this will ensure that the final moments before you click ‘Submit’ will be as worry-free as possible

Online Toolkits:

Guides:

Help and Tips for Turnitin Submissions:

Before You Begin

1. Before you begin, read the guidelines first and keep in touch!Before you begin, if you have any doubts about your expected submission through Learning Edge, please ensure you follow the guidelines you have been provided with. These will either be located within your module handbook or detailed within your module area within Learning Edge. It may have been that your tutor covered this in a session, so make sure you’re up to speed with any information you may have missed.

If for any reason you can’t locate your submission drop-box or if you don’t understand what you need to do then simply contact your tutor for further support. Keep your tutor informed of any problems you may have, especially in the days leading up to a deadline – it helps them to keep track of your progress and ensures they can help you quickly if need arises.

Plenty of Time

2. Why is it you get a technical problem right at a critical moment? If you have given yourself time, you should be able to try another PC if you run into problems. We know that anything could happen at any moment; internet dropping out, PC crashing, wireless not connecting the list goes on, so give yourself a break and some time to try out another computer – in university, in work or even your mate’s PC.

It is often the case that tutors will allow multiple submissions to an online drop-box, so you may be able to use this to your advantage. Check with your tutor and if this is the case, try submitting your work, even if not quite finished yet, to the drop-box a few days before the deadline just so you’re up to speed with the process before your final submission. Waiting until 1 minute before the deadline isn’t the time to start figuring out how everything works!

Final Submission

3. It may come to the time of doing your ‘final’ submission but if you have submitted an earlier version to Turnitin you will find that when you submit everything looks the same…for at least 24 hours. You will have to wait until the next day to see your new originality report and the preview of your updated document – another good reason to be organised and get your work in early!

Remember at the second stage of submitting to Turnitin you can check what you are about to submit just to be certain you’ve attached the right file.

Technical Difficulties

4. Have you ever encountered a Learning Edge or Turnitin issue during submission? If you think this issue could be system related, we do have preferred Twitter feeds for you to follow that will highlight any known issues:

@EdgeHillVLE provides scheduled Learning Edge maintenance alerts and up to date system notices around different technologies used within the VLE such as Turnitin.

@Turnitinstatus is the official feed for Turnitin system status, you may find that Learning Edge is fine but Turnitin is unavailable. Checking this feed will help you diagnose an issue around Turnitin submissions.

Online Support:

  • Ask Us: If you have a more general issue around the online submission process and Learning Edge consult the Ask Us service and see if your question can be answered there. If you can’t find the answer you’re looking for, you can simply type in your question and we will discuss it with you in real time using our live chat facility.

Face to Face Support:

  • You can visit the Catalyst help desk (Ormskirk) or the help desks at Aintree and St James (Manchester)

Apps

The following are just some of the apps that we may be useful whilst studying.

Remember that apps are provided by 3rd parties and not associated with or supported by Edge Hill University.  The following apps should used at your own discretion.

Go Conqr

Go Conqr is a social learning platform. It allows you to create Mind Maps, Flashcards, Quizzes, Slides and Notes to help you learn more easily. The GoConqr app is fully integrated with your web account, so your learning resources are always at hand.  Users can follow study and discussion groups as well as individual users, giving them access to further relevant learning resources.

2Do

2Do is a list and calendar based time-management app. It can be used to create multiple tasks, checklists and projects.  The user can set reminders for tasks, which can be re-ordered, filtered or focused according to the user’s changing needs. Photos, files etc. can be attached to tasks.  2Do allows you to keep track of your upcoming tasks

Any Do

Any.do is similar to 2Do – a list and calendar based time-management app which can be used to create multiple tasks, checklists and projects.  Any.do offers more options in terms of file attachments and sorting. However it does not have some features present in 2Do (i.e. repeat and multiple alerts only available in the paid-for upgrade).

Trello

Trello is a project management tool allowing users to create workboards for projects and designate workflows.  Tasks can be assigned to other users to facilitate group project work. Syncing allows all users to keep up-to-date on outstanding tasks and those completed by themselves or others.

Wunderlist

Wunderlist is a list-based time-management app. It is simpler than 2Do & Any.do, which means it is easier to use but doesn’t offer some of the other apps’ features.  Tasks can be added with attached notes and files. Reminders can be set and task-lists can be shared. Wunderlist features a “smart” feature where it reacts to trigger words such as “tomorrow” when scheduling reminders etc.

Evernote

Evernote allows the creation of notes in multiple formats (checklists, sketches, photos, scans, audio, video, PDF’s & web clippings). Tasks can be synced across all devices and shared with other users. Documents can be annotated, and worked on by multiple users. Evernote allows all your notes to be kept in one place.

OneNote

OneNote is similar to Evernote. Notes can be filed into notebooks and stored in multiple formats. Frequently used notes can be pinned for easy access.  Note format and structure is very flexible, and as with Evernote tasks can be synced across devices and shared with others.  A ‘convert to shape’ feature simplifies hand-drawn notes.

Instapaper

Instapaper allows the user to save and store web articles, which can later be read offline.  Saved content can be adjusted for ease of reading, and sorted and filed to allow the user to keep track of their documents. The appearance of the article (font size, line spacing etc. can be adjusted for the readers convenience).

Pocket

Pocket is similar to Instapaper. Saved articles can be tagged to allow for easy searching and Pocket recommends stories based on the user’s interests. Like Instapaper, Pocket has a text-to-speech function for users who prefer spoken word to text learning.

 

Digital Footprint

It is important to be aware of your presence online, and to create a positive image of yourself for future employers to see. Our online toolkit will help you to consider how to use a variety of digital tools effectively to achieve this, as well as looking at the importance of online etiquette and online security.

Online Toolkit:

Face to Face Support:

  • You can visit the Catalyst help desk (Ormskirk) or the help desks at Aintree and St James (Manchester)

Exam Preparation

Exams are an integral part of the university experience, and with the pressure of wanting to perform your best, you might notice healthy habits start to fall by the wayside. While caffeine-fuelled all-nighters are a last resort for some, they can often be counterproductive and wreak havoc with your sleeping pattern. As well as booking onto one of our Effective Exam Preparation workshops we propose the following to get your mind and body in tiptop shape for when it counts most…

Why Set Goals?

  • Setting goals can help you to see the bigger picture.
  • Goals can be long term (the future) or short term (the now).
  • Goals allow you to determine what you want to achieve and by when.
  • Writing a goal down and listing the steps you need to take to achieve that goal, helps to make you accountable to complete the task.
  • Goals can keep you motivated, as you experience the satisfaction of ticking off completed tasks on a to do list.

GUIDE: If you are new to setting goals or would just like a refresher around the key things to consider, then take a look at our guide on setting SMART goals.

Staying Motivated

You’ve written the goals, you know what you need to do and by when, but once the initial excitement has worn off how can you keep the momentum going?

 

  • Speak your goals out loud. Tell others what your intentions are and when you hope to complete them by. You are then accountable to others, who will be able to check your progress along the way.
  • Work with others. If you’re finding it difficult to complete or even start a certain goal, think if there are other people who could help you along. Working with others can make completing your task/goal more enjoyable and less isolating.
  • Reflect on the progress you have already made. This could be reading previous positive feedback or acknowledging something new that you can now do. Reflecting on what you still need to achieve can also help if you need to revise your goals.
  • Keep a to do list. There is nothing more satisfying than being able to tick off your tasks once they have been completed.

Effective Exam Preparation

Exams can be a daunting part of university life, and it is only natural that you will want to be as prepared as possible to perform at your best. When it comes to revision there are no right or wrongs, so you might find what works for your course mates, doesn’t work for you.

  • Clearly mark the date, time and exam location in your diary or calendar.
  • Speak with your tutor well in advance if you are unsure of what to expect or to clarify content you do not understand.
  • Consider attending a Uniskills Effective Exam Preparation workshop.
  • Ensure you get a good night’s sleep and eat a brain-fuelling breakfast in the morning.
  • Revise what you can bring with you. Most exams will allow for a bottle of water, but you will need to check about dictionaries, source texts and notes.
  • Take a look at our Exam Preparation Checklist and start building your unique revision intentions to keep you motivated.

 

Doing your best during the exam

  • Arrive comfortably in advance. It is a good idea to do a trial run or review your transport options before the day if you are travelling to an unfamiliar location.
  • Write your name and student number on all the answer sheets as required. Remember that the invigilator is there to help you, so do not be afraid to ask for extra sheets or materials.
  • Ensure you are not missing any questions on the reverse of the page, or that any pages are stuck together.
  • Read the question carefully (twice!) to avoid any misinterpretation.
  • Check that you clearly understand what is expected of you – how many questions do you need to answer, and in how much depth?
  • Keep an eye on the time. If necessary, consider how many marks each question is worth and distribute accordingly. Try and stick to the time you set yourself for each one.
  • If you’re struggling, focus on the questions you can answer first to boost your confidence and help you to relax.
  • If it is an essay-based exam it is important to make a plan and have a clear structure to your writing.

Common Exam Mistakes

  • Having poor time management and spending too long on one question, or too long on questions that are not worth many marks. Make sure you can see the clock and be strict with yourself when it is time to move on.
  • Not answering the question set and simply regurgitating everything you know or have revised about a topic. Ensure your answer is focused and relevant to what you are being asked.
  • Not turning the page to find there is a question printed on the back of the paper. It is a good idea to flick through all the pages before you begin.
  • Letting stress and nerves get the better of you. Take deep breaths and remember you can only do your best. Your tutors are not looking to catch you out.
  • Not looking at past papers or other resources available to you. By familiarising yourself with the format in advance, you can spend more time on the all-important questions.
  • Leaving the exam room as soon as you have finished. Make the most of any extra time you have available by checking, or even improving your answers.

What to do when…

You run out of time

Assess which questions offer the most marks and divide your remaining time accordingly. While it is advisable to try and get an answer down for everything, depending on your time constraints you may also wish to consider the questions you feel most comfortable answering. If the clock is really ticking, it still might be worth attempting a ‘skeleton answer’, where you jot your response in note form to try and score at least some marks.

You go blank

If moving on and coming back to the question later is not an option, have a pause (put down your pen if it helps) and try and think back to your lecture or visual revision aids. To jog your memory, you may find it useful to make a mind map, or write down everything (on a scrap piece of paper) that you can remember about a topic.

You have a panic

Stop and take a few deep breaths or a sip of water. If you’re struggling to compose yourself, let your invigilator know how you’re feeling so they can offer their support. If you have a tendency to panic in exams, it is best to let your tutor or the Inclusion team know well in advance to be informed of any options available to you.

The question you have prepared for doesn’t appear

Take a moment to consider whether what you have revised is ‘hidden’ in another question, or whether you can apply the knowledge you do have by thinking about how it relates to the wider subject area. While ultimately you can’t control what appears on your exam, you can control how you prepare. If given a set of 4 possible questions, for example, it is sensible to study so you can at least say something for all of them.

Exam Revision Tools & Techniques

Research has shown that students tend to employ the least effective techniques when revising for exams (Dunlosky et al., 2013).  This may be a legacy from earlier educational experiences, or to do with the feeling of security re-reading and highlighting sometimes gives us. Now is the time to break these habits and work out the most effective and active strategies for your learning.

What type of learning do I need to do?

University level study asks you to perform a difficult balancing act of recall and understanding: to learn specific information or memorize facts to build your subject knowledge on the one hand, whilst on the other, being able to synthesize this information, place it in context, and draw out connections, new ideas and the wider implications of what you have learnt.

When revising, make sure your strategy matches the type of learning you need to do: memorising a list of vocabulary, for example, requires a very different approach to preparing for answering an unseen essay question in a written exam.

This is another reason why it is really important you are clear on the format of any assessment you are due to take and set aside time to familiarise yourself with what is expected.

GUIDE: Have a look through our guide on using Effective Tools & Techniques for exam revision.

Finally…

Remember these quick top tips:

  • Eat a well balanced diet of colourful fruit and vegetables to fuel your brain!
  • Get a good nights sleep!
  • Make a plan, good time management is paramount to peak exam performance!
  • Study with a friend (or two!) – it can be a brilliant way to ease the exam-season burden!
  • And if you’re feeling particularly nervous, anxious or overwhelmed about your upcoming exams, don’t forget our Student Wellbeing Team are on hand to support you.

Guides:

Workshops

Our Uniskills workshops run throughout the academic year and cover a range of key academic skills including effective exam preparation, finding academic print and digital resources, academic writing, presentation skills and much more!

Workshops are open to students across all levels of study and you are welcome to attend as many as you like.  The workshops are based in Catalyst and most run over the lunchtime period.

Check out the latest schedule and book your place online 

Student Advisors

The role of a Student Advisor is to provide help, support and guidance to other students on a peer to peer basis. The team are all current second year, third year or Masters students and between them they bring a great variety of subject knowledge from their individual disciplines together with a wealth of experience from studying at Edge Hill, using all of that to support other students on their own University journey.

The support they provide revolves around getting the most out of your Library, locating and using physical and virtual resources for your studies. They can help you to develop a range of introductory academic skills and can introduce you to more specialised support where necessary.   They can help with:

  • Searching the Library Catalogue for books and eBooks
  • Using Discover More to find online journal articles and other online resources
  • Navigating Learning Edge/Blackboard and your subject specific ‘My Library’ Tab
  • Harvard referencing
  • Finding and accessing UniSkills academic support material

During term-time you can book a 15 minute appointment with a Student Advisor, between 11am and 4pm, Monday to Friday.

Keep up-to-date with our Student Advisors by following Learning Services on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and on our blog.

1-2-1 Appointments

We offer 1-2-1 appointments in Catalyst (Ormskirk campus) to help you develop your academic skills.

You can self-book 1 appointment per month.  This limit allows us to distribute the support we offer fairly across the taught student population.

It may be helpful to bring along:

  • an example of some work you have been set
  • an outline of the assessment criteria
  • a timetable of submission dates
  • any work you have already written
  • feedback you have received from your tutor

We can:

  • provide advice and guidance in relation to planning, finding academic sources, writing and referencing at University
  • signpost you to online guides and further resources to support you after the appointment
  • signpost you to other support services across the University

We can’t:

  • advise you on the content of your work as we are not subject specialists
  • offer a proofreading service, re-write parts of your assignment for you, or offer a quick fix for an imminent deadline

If you can’t find a suitable date/time then please get in touch.

Drop in support

*Drop in support will take a break over summer from Monday 3rd June and will restart again Monday 16th September. If you have any quick queries during this time please don’t hesitate to get in touch *

We are available every week day in Catalyst from 11-2pm to help you with all your academic skills enquiries.  We can support you for up to 15 minutes with quick referencing queries, advice on being more critical in your writing and where to look for the best resources for your essay.  If we can’t help you in 15 minutes (we usually can!) we can book you in for a longer 1-2-1 appointment.

Just come along to the Catalyst help desk week days between 11-2pm and ask for Uniskills support.

Students at St James (Manchester)

We offer 1-2-1 appointments for students studying at St James (Manchester) to help you develop your academic skills.

If you can’t find a suitable date/time then please get in touch and support can be provided over the telephone and/or via email.

You can self-book 1 appointment every 30 days.

It may be helpful to bring along:

  • an example of some work you have been set
  • an outline of the assessment criteria
  • a timetable of submission dates
  • any work you have already written
  • feedback you have received from your tutor

We can:

  • provide advice and guidance in relation to planning, finding academic sources, writing and referencing at University
  • signpost you to online guides and further resources to support you after the appointment
  • signpost you to other support services across the University

We can’t:

  • advise you on the content of your work as we are not subject specialists
  • offer a proofreading service, re-write parts of your assignment for you, or offer a quick fix for an imminent deadline