Study Methods & Penguins

Emma Foster - ASK Blog PicLast semester, while I was working with the ASK service, I had a student ask me if the only way to study was reading through their textbooks and trying to rote learn everything. The short answer? Hells no.

There are probably as many different ways to study as there are people on the planet, or something exorbitant like that. The following are just a few different techniques that might help you along. Continue reading Study Methods & Penguins


imageHelloooooooo my lovely little kittens!

Miss me? I bet you did. Today I am going to tell you all about a fairly wonderful little thing called yourtutor.

Firstly, if you do not know about yourtutor, then you have been missing out. But given we are down to the extremely sharp and horribly pointy end of the year, it may just be the best time for you to get on it.

Yourtutor is a tutoring service. Basically. BUT it is online. AND it is free for FedUni students. PLUS it is accessible late at night when all your tutors and lecturers have drifted off into a deep slumber, or are out drinking wine and partying to their heart’s content. Whatever it is those crazy kids do that means they don’t reply to our emails right when we need them the most — an hour before the assignment is due at midnight, or the night before your early morning exam. So that’s when yourtutor becomes the greatest friend a uni student could ever have.

They are accessible from 3pm-11pm every day of the week except Saturday (because they need to party and sleep sometimes too, friends), and you do not even need to put on pants or get out of bed to talk to them. Yep, sounds pretty great, right? Well, it is.

Yourtutor is made up of experienced tutors, who can help with anything from maths and science to English and grammar. They will help you with research, topic analysis, study tips, basically anything study related that you need help with. You can even upload your assignments for them to have a look over and give you some help. Yes, they are that good.

To access yourtutor you will find a banner on the home page of Moodle. You can find more information and a short video clip about it here.

So seriously, if you find yourself struggling with a question that just can’t wait until tomorrow, or an assignment that needs to be looked over before you submit it, log onto yourtutor and watch them work their magic*.


*Not actual real magic. They have unfortunately not been to Hogwarts. Well, not that they’ve told me anyway…

How to juggle study, assignments, work and family

My initial reaction is DON’T DO IT! But in saying that, I have juggled all these balls and more and survived to tell the tale.

My best tip of all is to get organised! “Not again with the organised bit!” I hear you say. Sorry, but it’s the only way I survived. The Library has resources and planners that can assist you in planning your week, month and semester. Take a few minutes to throw yourself into this rewarding task. Yes, I’m serious! It is rewarding when you allocate time and end up not being totally wasted from anxiety and stress.

It’s important to make sure that, when you slot in lectures, tutorials and assignment writing time, that you give yourself time to chillax. Otherwise, the wheels will fall off and you will be totally smashed.

So if I have inspired you to give organising a try then my job is done! Good luck in your studies. If I can do it, you certainly can!


General Guide to Writing & Study Skills

imageHelloooooo my lovely little kittens!

I’m here today to discuss with you a wonderful fun new resource we have available to help you with your writing and study skills. It is called (surprisingly) the General Guide to Writing and Study Skills! This handy little eBook/PDF is full of all sorts of hints and tips to make writing and studying that much easier.

This super handy guide contains things from adjusting to the university lifestyle, to writing different types of assessment, to avoiding plagiarism, to all manner of other exciting little tidbits to help you make it through university without being eaten by a crocodile*.

Even if you don’t feel as though you are struggling with any writing or study skills, I recommend checking out this book, as you may be surprised by what you can find. It is written in a way to try and make it as accessible to students as possible, so you don’t have to wade through *cough* stuffy *cough* academic language to try and find what you are looking for.

I feel like I am writing an advertisement here. I guess I kind of am, so maybe I should just commit to it. Let’s try that.

(read in big booming voice) Here for the first time ever, a study skills guide that is fun AND useful. Come on down and try out our General Guide to Writing and Study Skills, for the special price of $0! Yes, you heard me right folks, that is absolutely free for now and always!

Well…that felt weird. Maybe I should just stick to talking about it as I was. Basically, this is one handy piece of work. Let’s just stick with that. Have a look, check it out, and if you have any feedback or comments there is a form you can fill out to help this resource get even better. Yep. Better than it is now. That is going to be tough, given how good it already is, but we can try.

ANYWAY, the guide can be found here or by accessing the Federation University home page, and clicking students > learning and study > study skills and writing guides.

The feedback form can be accessed by following the same process, or simply by clicking here.

I hope you find this resource as useful and fun as it is intended to be, and that you enjoyed reading my (slightly insane) blog post.

– Tegan 🙂


*may or may not mention crocodiles at any point in this guide ever at all

3Rs Workshops

IMG_0938With the first week of uni coming to end, it’s time to brush up on important skills that students will need when the time comes for assignments. For many of us, this means writing reports or essays. This might seem daunting at first, especially if you’re a first year student and not familiar with the new expectations at uni, which include finding appropriate academic resources and referencing those resources.

Students looking to refresh their writing and research skills should look at the 3Rs (Researching, Referencing and wRiting) workshops. The 3Rs are a series of workshops that are normally run by your campus’ library in the first few weeks of a semester. They are currently being offered at the Mt Helen and Gippsland campuses. These workshops range from general library skills such as looking for journal articles to important writing skills, such as how to structure essays or reports. The 3Rs are an excellent resource to be taken advantage of early on in the semester. It’s arguably better to get on top of these skills now than waiting for the week before the assignment is due (I may be writing from experience).

If you aren’t able to attend the workshops, don’t fret, because there are a number of online resources that can be accessed via the 3Rs Moodle shell, which students are automatically enrolled in. However, attending the library workshops gives you the opportunity to ask questions in person, which is always a good thing.

Interested in getting involved? You can find a list of workshops and enrol at the Fed Uni library skills website (


Because Prepositions

RyanHello again! The word nerd is back to quickly tell you that the English language is steadily acquiring a new preposition, because English. Yup, linguists are starting to identify that a new use for the word ‘because’ is steadily evolving, mainly thanks to the wonders of the internet.

The word ‘because’ is traditionally a subordinate conjunction, which simply means that it joins two sentences where one explains or justifies the other. Examples include “I didn’t go to the party because there was a game on” or “I couldn’t go outside because of the weather”. The two clauses in the first example are “I didn’t go to the party” and “There was a game on”. The wonderful ‘because’ joins these two together to inform the reader that one was caused by the other (Or should I say ‘claused’! Haha… That joke was terrible).

But the wonderful users of the English language decided we could do one better. Why do we put useless words like ‘of’ in there? Nope, this could be changed, and thereafter we get examples like “I didn’t go to the party because football” and “I couldn’t go outside because weather”. More popular uses include the ever-used “because science”, and some might recall the internet meme “because race car”. If you don’t know about that last one, you can educate yourself (procrastinate) here.

Linguists, though, are looking at what they have imaginatively termed the ‘because preposition’ as a legitimate contender for future use. Using the ‘because preposition’ often denotes an apathy around the explanation, or suggests an implicit understanding that shouldn’t warrant explanation. It’s also used in a variety of ways.

If you’re more interested in the development of this preposition, a few wonderful people have written excellent explanations and examinations of the development. Have two links, because information:

All that said, this use of ‘because’ still isn’t correct in formal English, so don’t go writing it in any essays. Your lecturers will chuckle briefly, then mark it up with red pen. And blame me.

P.S. It’s worth mentioning that, once I spoke about this to the gang up here, every conversation started being concluded with the line “because <conversation topic>”. So maybe don’t tell everyone this. Maybe I shouldn’t even have posted this. Oh well. Too late.


Proof reading.

DanniSometimes you get to the end of an assignment, ffffinally, and you can’t wait to see the back of it. Let’s be honest, the last thing you want to do is go back over and proof read it. But we’ve all gotta remember that this is the easiest way to improve your marks. You’ve put in all the hard work already; you’re pretty much just ripping yourself off if you don’t proof it. Feel free to give yourself a rest from it for a while first though (if you have the luxury of time and your assignment isn’t due in an hour).

There will be typos and grammatical errors that are confusing to read and distort your sentences, that make it hard for your lecturer to work out what you’re trying to say – you don’t really want to work them too hard when they’re reading and marking your assignment. You want them to be happy and smiling and glad.

I had an assignment the other day that I just couldn’t get started. I forced myself to get some words on the page and basically began brainstorming my response, in sentence form. Bad sentences. But I had made a start and got on a roll. When I finally came to proof read it, it was ugly. It was U-G-L-Y.

So I frowned a little bit first, then I printed it out and plodded along scribbling on it (and cussing on it) and reading sentences aloud. I reckon printing my assignments out, scribbling on and editing them is a pretty effective way of proofing and improving my work, cos it essentially provides two proofing opportunities. First when I’m going to town scribbling on it and then again when I’m inputting my changes onto my word doc.

Reading your work out-aloud is really great for picking up grammatical errors, especially if you have a pal available to listen and give you some pointers 😉 For particularly difficult, fluffy, confusing sentences I speak aloud and pretend to explain to someone what I’m actually trying to say, what I meant by the sentence. This usually gives me some clues as to how I could structure my sentence to get my message across a bit more efficiently.

Another way to have your work read aloud is to use the program WYNN, that’s on all the Uni computers. This program is pretty nifty. It reads and highlights the text from documents you upload (or even webpages) so you can then listen and pick up any errors or areas for improvement. You can also type straight into this program and it will predict the next word of your sentence (sort of like Android predictive text on a mobile), this can be handy for reducing grammatical errors in expression, especially for international students.

Anyway, they’re the methods I used to proof read this particularly bad assignment I had written. I got through it and was pretty glad for it to be over once I’d finally finished. I definitely knew though that the work I submitted was MUCH better than if I had have neglected the proofing/editing process and felt much happier with the result. Smile.

So from me to you, do yourself a solid and proof read ya work.

P.S. I ended up getting 34/35 for this assignment… Wow, proof reading huh. What magic.


Essay Structure

RyanYou know what’s fun? Essay structure.

Said no-one ever.

Essay structure is something that seems like it should be easy but isn’t. At all. It lulls you into a false sense of security with the fond high-school memories of TEEL and then smacks you around when your back is turned. There’s no one trick to nailing essay structure, but I’ll try and give you a basic breakdown. As in an explanation. I’m sure we’re all experiencing enough of the other kind of breakdown over the semester.

To start with, you need to make sure your essay holds a clear introduction, body and conclusion. The introduction and conclusion are typically one paragraph, while the body refers to the majority of the content. It’s worth stating that it will be really hard to write these if you don’t have a really clear idea of what you’re writing on, so make sure you understand the question and have a rough idea of your response.

The introduction, surprisingly, introduces the reader to the topic. It should start with a broad overview of the field and then narrow down until it explicitly states what the essay is dealing with. This should culminate in what we call a ‘thesis statement’. The thesis statement is a sentence or two that says exactly what you’re trying to do in this essay and it should be the last sentence of your introduction. The key with the introduction is to start broad and narrow down. But don’t go so broad that you lose all relevance. If your topic has to do with the development of the communist movement then you don’t have to go back to the Triassic period. After the introduction, your readers should know exactly what to expect from your essay. Nothing should surprise them. This is an academic paper not an M. Night Shyamalan movie.

The body paragraphs are the meat of your essay. This is where it all happens. Your readers have been introduced to what you’re going to do and now you’re going to do it. Each paragraph should be a topic of its own. Don’t try to deal with more than one major point at once. This is where planning comes in handy. Think about what the key points are that you want to address and devote a paragraph to each of them. Within the body paragraphs themselves, you want to start off by introducing your paragraph topic, then discussing the topic, then closing it off and leading into the next paragraph topic.

The conclusion is essentially the opposite of the introduction. Start narrow and broaden out. You typically want to start by restating your thesis statement and then look at the broader implications or the wider scope. You should not introduce any new information in the conclusion. This should be a summary of what has occurred and that is all.

A super easy way to think of the three sections is this:

     Introduction: Tell them what you’re going to do

     Body: Do it

     Conclusion: Tell them what you did

Hopefully that helps you folks somewhat. Remember, if you’re really struggling with essay structure you can contact the ASK service at

Have fun and try not to stress!


Note making

Aodhan1Note making is a fundamental skill that students’ need to master in order to be successful at University. There are various ways of making notes which include linear note making, concept mapping, matrices and clustering. The style that you choose to use when you take notes in dependent on your preferred style.  I have listed some strategies and advice that you can use for your own studies regarding note taking.


Some useful tips.

  • Experiment with a range of note making techniques until you find a strategy that works for you.
  • Use a style of note making that suits your own learning style. For example visual learners prefer colour coded mind maps in favour of linear note making.
  • Use highlighters to mark important information. For example highlight key words and phrases. NOT entire paragraphs.
  • Effective note making occurs when you convert the notes you have taken in a lecture and structure them in a form e.g. matrix that suits your learning style. This strategy helps to consolidate the information you have learnt.
  • Use sticky notes for the resources you can read and refer to.
  • Use a tape recorder for your lecture and make notes when you listen to the recording. Ensure you seek the permission of the lecturer before you do this.
  • When viewing online journals use the find search option to determine if the source contains any relevant information for your assignment.


Useful links for note making.


To whom or not to whom

RyanI love words. There’s pretty much no way around that. Try as I did to resist the unnatural urges, I am powerless to resist. As soon as somebody rattles off an interesting word I feel compelled to immediately consult the nearest dictionary or — in this day and age — my phone, and determine the meaning and origin of it. I’ve done this for as long as I can remember. Some might call me a nerd, others might call me a… Nup. ‘Nerd’ is about all I can think of. ‘Word geek’ maybe. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t view these as derogatory. I love words too much to care what people say about us. I’m getting creepy and weird now, so let’s move on.

 Tasked with writing a blog post that could be about anything at all, I immediately went to words. Yup, that’s how interesting I am. But of all the words to choose from, I found it difficult to settle. However, I recently discovered a handy little tip for a set of words that are regularly misunderstood: who and whom.

I want to start by saying that the word whom is steadily phasing out of modern English usage, so if your immediate response was ‘but I never use whom!’ then don’t worry. You don’t need to. But if you’re like me then every now and then you’ll say ‘who’ and something at the back of your mind will start tugging away, confident that something wasn’t quite right with what you just did; you just can’t put your finger on it.

The most common use of the word ‘whom’ is in the phrase ‘to whom’. That is, most people that are aware of the word might commonly use it in the following conversation:

“Do you have my DVD?”

“Nah, sorry. I gave it to somebody.”

“To whom?”

This is the correct usage of the word, and most of us subconsciously know this. If you said ‘to who’ then you’re not going to get a slap on the wrist. People don’t mind that much. But, formally, the word ‘whom’ is the correct word to use, and I’ll explain why.

Put simply, ‘who’ is used when it is acting as the subject of a verb and ‘whom’ is used when it is the object of a verb. To demonstrate this subject/object distinction, I’ll use a fairly simple example. Take the following sentence:

     Jimmy threw the ball.

Now in this instance, ‘Jimmy’ is the subject and ‘the ball’ is the object. The sentence treats Jimmy as the main subject of the sentence and talks about what Jimmy is doing. The ball is something he used. Now, that all seems nice and simple, but let’s look at another example:

     The ball was thrown by Jimmy.

This looks like it might be the same as the last sentence, right? Jimmy is still doing the throwing and the ball is still being thrown. But it’s not the same. In this sentence ‘the ball’ is the subject and ‘Jimmy’ is the object. The sentence is primarily concerned with what is happening to the ball, rendering it the subject of the sentence.

Now this all translates readily into ‘who’ and ‘whom’. Remember before that I said ‘who’ was the subject and ‘whom’ was the object? Well, let’s turn those sentences into questions as if we don’t know the identity of the thrower. They become:

     Who threw the ball?

     The ball was thrown by whom?

You can see here that when Jimmy was the subject, we replace it with ‘who’ but when he was the object we replace it with ‘whom’.

But don’t panic! That all seems confusing, I know, and figuring out what the heck is the subject and object can get mighty confusing. Instead, there is a much easier way to determine which one you should be using, and I’ll look into that now.

‘Who’ and ‘whom’ are always part of a question, right? When somebody is asking ‘who’ or ‘whom’ they want an answer. You can use this to sort of reverse the order and, in doing so, determine the correct form. By that, I mean we will determine how the question would be answered.

The simple rule here is that ‘who’ is correct if it can be answered with a ‘he’ or ‘she’, and ‘whom’ is correct if it can be answered with a ‘him’ or ‘her’. Before I start to confuse you too much, let’s put this into an example:

      Who threw the ball?

could be answered with

     She threw the ball

That means the word ‘who’ is correct in this instance. Let’s look at the other form.

     The ball was thrown by who?

could be answered with

     The ball was thrown by her

That means we should be using ‘whom’ in this instance, and writing the sentence as ‘The ball was thrown by whom?’ So, to phrase it as a general rule, we have:

If answered with he/she use who

If answered with him/her use whom

Remember, it’s critical that you phrase the answer in exactly the same way as the question. That is, if the question is ‘the ball was thrown by whom?’ your answer must start with ‘the ball was thrown by’. For this rule to work you really just want to substitute the who/whom with he/she/him/her. This won’t always be possible if you have a particularly obscure question, but try to make it as similar as possible.

As a final note, to anyone that’s sitting there going “but what if the answer to the question is ‘they’ or ‘them’?” then don’t panic. Almost every question can be answered with a singular pronoun. You’ll find that even if the correct answer is ‘they’ or ‘them’, ‘he’ or ‘she’ could still be applicable.

Well, that’s me for the day. I hope you found that thoroughly enthralling. I’ll be back for more wordy wisdom another day.