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These three examples show how faculty can use syllabus statements to help students focus their work and succeed in the class.

Annette Lareau, SOCI 1000 "Free Advice"

There are many things that most of you will do during this semester. You will get settled on campus. This will mean that you will adjust to your living situation, go out with your friends, visit your family, and work. These are important. Still, your academic life should also be a foundational element of your semester and a core part of why you are here. Set high standards for yourself! Read books on your own! It is wonderful to arrange your schedule so that you come to class, do the readings, study, and absorb the material. Since this is a course in the social sciences, there is quite a bit of required reading for this course.

The class is designed to challenge you to think about the world in new ways as well as to build your intellectual skills. We work for each class to have a point and to highlight key ideas. Each class is an important part of the goals of the semester. We are always happy to meet with you in office hours to discuss what you are learning and how you can further improve.

Students tell me that they often enter the course expecting that it will be an "easy course." They are surprised that it is not. It has a great deal of reading since empirical studies are crucial to understanding scientific evidence in the social sciences. Some, but not all, students also report that they find the course to be valuable. They report that it has an impact on how they see the world.

James Pikul, MEAM 1110 "Ten Things to Do to Get an A in this Course"

  1. Read the material in advance (as listed on the Course Schedule). Lecture will make infinitely more sense. We will go at a fast pace. If you do not read ahead, you will find it difficult to follow.
  2. Attend all classes, pay attention, and participate. No sleeping, texting, web surfing, chatting with friends, and day dreaming—every minute with the professor and TAs is meant to help you. Use every minute to your advantage.
  3. Ask questions in class. Since you have read ahead, you will have questions ready, and more will come to mind during lecture. Your classmates will be grateful for your questions, even ones you think are "dumb" (which never are).
  4. Do problems. The book is filled with problems at the end of each chapter. The more of these you do, the better you will do in class. This is the most important aspect. You can and should do some of these with classmates in study groups, but you should to the bulk of these by yourself. The numeric or symbolic answer to the odd-numbered problems is in the back of the text, so you can check if you got the right answer. You can also purchase a Student Solution Manual, which has solutions to most of the odd-numbered problems.
  5. Use the on-line resources. There are illustrated examples, interactive applets, videos, tutorials, and other materials in the "Study Section" of Mastering Physics. Explore and use these resources—they can be very time-effective ways to learn, and to test your learning.
  6. Work with your classmates. Working together allows you to learn from each other, challenge each other, and check that you really know what you think you know. Discuss and debate the material. Figure out what you don't know and what to re-read, or ask the TAs or instructors in recitation, lecture, or office hours.
  7. Think for yourself. When working with your classmates, it is easy to end up piggybacking on what they know. After working together, make sure that your homework and other problems you have tried are YOUR OWN work, and that you can reason through every step of the problems independently. If you do not do this, you will fail the midterms. And of course, cheating or dishonesty will be rewarded with an immediate F in the course. I am serious about this.
  8. Come to any of the office hours if you are stuck, be it on HW, on something discussed in class, or on the extra problems you are solving from the text. Ask well-prepared questions, not just about specific problems, but also about the concepts you are learning.
  9. Start all HW assignments early, and aim to complete them assignments ahead of time. Do not leave your homework until the night before.
  10. Follow up. Check the HW solutions. If they do not make sense, ask your classmates, your teammates, the grader, your TAs, or me about it in class, recitation, or office hours. If you did poorly on a midterm exam, see me or your TAs to discuss it to find out what's going wrong.
  11. Relate what you are learning to the world around you. We will try to help you do this, but don't stop thinking about the material after you leave the classroom. Look at moving cars, bouncing balls, structures, devices, and other mechanisms. Think about the mechanics concepts at work. Think about how you can apply what you have learned to these systems, and discuss this with your classmates, your TAs, and the instructors.

Connie Scanga, NURS 1640 "Study Suggestions"

  1. Study for N132/164 EVERY day. We will be covering a lot of material and moving quickly. It is in your best interest to stay on top of the material as the challenge to catch up can be almost insurmountable. Students who have previously been successful in the course have devoted at least 10 hours per week to exam preparation in addition to the time spent completing readings and assignments.
  2. A tremendous amount of material will be covered in this course. Successful mastery of content requires rote memorization, conceptual understanding and hands on skill. If you put off studying until a few days before an exam, you should not expect to do well on the exam. Study regularly and often!
  3. Create a semester-long calendar of all your courses' exams, projects, papers and assignments. Work backwards to make sure you are prepared for a week when you have, for example, 2 exams and a paper due.
  4. Become an active learner. Students who do well in the course employ active learning strategies, including:
    • Practicing visualizing anatomical and physiological concepts as living, moving parts. Whether its receptors or muscles, one must constantly ask, "How do these fit, how do they work together, what would happen if this was removed or broken?"
    • Asking themselves questions about the material—e.g., "If I were Dr. Scanga or Professor Quigley, what test question could I ask on this topic?" "What are the distinguishing characteristics of this structure?" "What would be the effect of _____?" "How would this manifest in a patient or someone you know?"
    • Organizing and re-organizing information. This could involve adding notes to the lecture outline as you complete the assigned readings prior to lecture or pairing new information with your existing knowledge so that you are able to apply it (and recall it) in various ways. It will not benefit you to memorize Marieb's or our words if the words have no meaning for you. This semester's PhysioEx assignments for A&P lab relate directly to what we will be covering in lecture. Make an effort to think about the PhysioEx activity as you answer lecture study guide questions.
    • Staying disciplined and organized will pay huge dividends (not just in this course!).
  5. When you are completing reading assignments, take time to study the accompanying illustrations. Read the key concept statement. Answer checkpoint questions and end-of-chapter questions. Highlighting the text as you read is not an effective way to learn. If you really like highlighting, find the one or two main ideas per page and highlight them. This will help you think through the material to identify the essential, core ideas.
  6. Test questions will be drawn primarily from lecture & lab notes, the course study guides, and the case studies assigned for each lecture topic. You are also responsible for knowing the material covered in the assigned readings; study guide questions will help you organize the information in the readings and lectures so that you can study and learn them more effectively.
  7. Prepare in advance for lectures. Use the syllabus to identify upcoming lecture topics. Read about the topic in the textbook before coming to the lecture. You may not completely understand the information the first time you read it—but reading before lecture will allow you to gain more from the lecture itself. Some lectures will expand on ideas introduced in the assigned reading. Information in the chapter tables and illustrations is especially useful in helping you organize and learn information. Print the Powerpoint slides (available on the course Canvas site) and bring them with you for reference during the lecture. Refer to the slides as you answer study guide questions and study lecture material.
  8. If (for some extraordinary reason) you are late for class or miss a lecture class, it is your responsibility to obtain announcements and notes from the class from a fellow student.
  9. Prepare in advance for labs. If you have not read and become familiar with the scheduled lab activity before class, you will not be able to contribute fully within your lab group. This detracts from your own experience, as well as the experience of your peers.
  10. Please arrange to attend scheduled exam review sessions which are held soon after lecture and lab exams. These sessions are an excellent opportunity to see which questions you missed, and to determine why you missed the questions. This can assist you in modifying your study strategies for upcoming examinations.