By Anja van den Berg
Completing a degree is an investment in yourself and your success in life. Your earning capacity rises significantly as a graduate, and you add value to the economy. A part-time degree offers flexibility for those who are working full-time.
Part-time students need to keep many balls in the air. Therefore, it’s especially critical for this group to develop practical study skills.
Professor Beatrys Lacquet, the director and head of Wits Plus, offers valuable study methods for all part-time students pursuing a degree. Combine these methods to find the best approach for your needs:
- Identify your preferred style of learning. It’s important to understand that there are several different learning styles, none of which are right or wrong. Consider these learning styles and customise your study skills:
- Auditory learners take in information through listening and speaking. To fully comprehend specific details, these learners prefer to hear instructions and verbally repeat them.
- Visual learners often associate certain subjects, ideas and tasks with images. They absorb information when they see the material being presented.
- Tactile, or kinaesthetic, learners are ‘doers’. They prefer first-hand experience with practical applications. They take the term ‘hands-on’ literally.
- Space out your studying over time. Create a study calendar and decide when to review specific chunks of content. Your calendar should include planning for small pieces of everyday review. Plan to include both current concepts and previously learned material.
- Explain and describe ideas in many details. Make connections within the content. Practise this method by asking yourself open-ended questions about the material and answer in as much detail as possible. Check the learning material to make sure your understanding is spot-on. Doing this will help you identify gaps in your comprehension and grant you sufficient time to either look for the answer online or consult your lecturer for help.
- Switch between ideas while you are studying. Research indicates that we learn and master a skill or concept more effectively if we mix or practise it with other skills. This process is called interleaving. It might not be the most effortless skill to master. Still, it teaches you to think more critically and choose a particular strategy for each problem instead of repeatedly following the same patterns.
- Combine words and visuals. Information is often presented in combination with visuals of some sort, including images, charts or graphs. When studying, link the visuals to the text and explain what they mean in your own words. This process reinforces concepts in the brain through two distinct paths, making it easier to retrieve information in the long term.
A silver lining of the Covid-19 lockdowns is an overhaul of teaching methods, also applicable to part-time students. One-dimensional teaching approaches have been replaced with a combination of options, concluding online resources, virtual classes and always-accessible videos.
The change in teaching method aligns well with the Universal Design for Learning (UDL), an evidence-driven framework for improving and optimising learning for all students. The UDL recommends that learning opportunities provide for:
1) multiple means of engagement,
2) multiple means of representation, and
3) multiple means of action and expression.
Following this learning design means that all different learning styles are accounted for at the outset, reducing the need to personalise every activity.
Robert Half Talent Solutions: https://www.roberthalf.com/blog/salaries-and-skills/3-different-learning-styles-and-how-to-use-them-in-your-career
Biz Community: https://www.bizcommunity.com/Article/196/1/219562.html
University of Kansas: https://educationonline.ku.edu/community/learning-styles-what-teachers-need-to-know