Top Five Tips for Surviving Finals

In order to prepare both intellectually and emotionally for the most stressful part of the academic year, you will need to arm yourself with the top survival tips for final exams. Supplying your tool belt with a host of strategies for success will ultimately lead to a  successful exam week.  Read on to learn more about the top five survival tips for being more prepared and less stressed through finals.

1. Block Your Time

With a lot of material to cover when studying for finals, it is critical to plan ahead and manage your time wisely.  Research consistently indicates that last minute cramming is not an effective method of studying, therefore it is recommended that you begin scheduling study times early. Break down the material into manageable sections and allow more time to spend on the classes that will likely have the most challenging tests. It is also important to block time for study breaks to allow your brain to rest, so you can function well and retain information effectively.

2. Enlist a Team

Successful students surround themselves with positive, supportive people.  Consider who those people are among your circle of friends and classmates, as they can be a valuable resource for keeping you motivated.  Gathering in productive study groups can allow you to discuss topics that you find challenging and teaching others is a great way to learn.  MHC campus also has many support staff that provide student services such as academic coaching, writing support, peer support and counseling. Be sure to make these people part of your team, as they can be of great help.  Your instructors can also be part of your team if you include them by asking questions and communicating your challenges to them.  Enlisting a team is about making meaningful connections and being resourceful.

3. Take Care of Yourself

Despite popular belief, cramming over a book at all hours of the day and night will not guarantee that you achieve straight A’s during finals week. In order to maximize your studying potential, you need to make sure that your body is receiving the nutrients it needs to perform well. Feed your brain with well-balanced meals to avoid feeling sluggish. Rather than pulling all-nighters, also get plenty of sleep throughout final exams week to aid in memorizing the information you studied earlier. To clear the mind, move the body…. schedule in plenty of time for movement, to release endorphins through your body that can boost self-confidence and combat anxiety.

4. Eliminate Distractions

To go about your study days with focus and intention, consider what your distractions are and eliminate them. Video games, social media and TV series binging are good examples of activities that can easily interrupt study time and disrupt your studying groove. Consider negotiating with yourself by allowing time spent with these types of activities as a reward at the end of a productive study session or study day.  If you are busy checking your social media accounts, watching movies or trying to achieve the next level on your favorite video game, you will not be giving your undivided attention to the study materials and will not retain the information. Lock your phone away in a safe place where you will not be tempted and refrain from gaming and watching TV until you have finished your study sessions.

5. Remember to Breathe!

Final exams week can be one of the most stressful weeks of the school year with tremendous amounts of pressure to succeed. It is essential that you do not let the stress overwhelm you and steal your power. Before writing your exams, be sure to take a few deep calming breaths to release all of the built-up tension and put your body at ease. With the top tips for finals in your tool belt, be confident in your intelligence, stay relaxed, and try your best.

Avoiding Plagiarism

What is Plagiarism

Plagiarism means using someone else’s work without giving proper credit.

“Work” includes but is not limited to written words, art, music, information from the Internet, videos, interviews, data or statistics.

“Giving proper credit” means carefully following the formatting rules of a documentation style such as APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.


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Whether intentional or unintentional, plagiarism is a serious academic offense. It is important to inform yourself of what constitutes plagiarism and how to avoid it in your work.

The following are some examples of plagiarism:

  • Improper paraphrasing or summarizing even if cited correctly. When restating information in your own words you must ensure that you are synthesizing the information in your own writing style and are not simply changing a few words or reversing the order of words in the sentence.
  • Handing in someone else’s work as your own, such as another student’s paper or purchasing a paper from a paper mill.
  • Not citing information that has been paraphrased or summarized (information or ideas that have been put into your own words).
  • Providing an incorrect citation for borrowed information. Accidentally mixing up the citation and the source is still considered plagiarism.
  • Failing to put quotation marks around information that was copied even if it was cited.
  • Self plagiarism, using a previous paper for a current assignment without permission from your instructor.

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Tips to Avoid Plagiarism

  1. Start early: give yourself enough time to complete your assignment. When short on time, it is easy to make mistakes when taking notes and citing your sources. Research, citing, and writing the paper often takes much longer then anticipated; try an assignment calculator to help you manage your time.
  2. Keep track of your sources: either save your research in your email or use a reference manager such as Mendeley or Zotero.
  3. Cite correctly: learn the required documentation style APA, MLA, Chicago, etc. Check with your instructor on which style you are required to use for the assignment.
  4. Complete the bibliography BEFORE writing: complete your list of sources in the required style before taking notes and writing, so it is clear what is needed for your in-text citations.
  5. Take accurate and complete notes: when taking notes or writing your first draft, make sure to always indicate:
    • copied information – enclose in quotation marks AND provide a citation
    • paraphrased or summarized information – provide a citation
    • your own thoughts – nothing is required
  6. Take time to review and ask questions: proofread your work to make sure you cited everything correctly. Seek assistance from library staff or your instructor if you have any questions about your sources.
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Google it: Five Tips to Search like a Pro

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Just “Google it”— often friendly disputes about factual matters will end up with that phrase. We have grown so familiar with the search engine, and the way it resolves our everyday questions. Yet we have forgotten the amazing features up its sleeve.

Here is a brief overview of the most useful Google search tips:

1. Search within a website

The search engines of most websites are poor. Instead, use Google’s site or domain limiter to search within a single website. For example, searching with site:cbc.ca followed by a search term. In other words, site:example.com text goes here

2. Find influential papers

Some papers are of central importance to a research topic, often because they report a major breakthrough, or theories that have an accepted validity among the scholarly community.  At some point in your student life, you will be required to find influential or seminal papers. Fortunately, Google offers a database devoted only to scholarly papers, called Google Scholar, which allows you to track how often and how recently a paper is cited in other scholarly literature.  Simply look for “Cited by”.

3. Find similar websites

Quality research demands synthesis—combining ideas from a number of sources to form a coherent whole. For this reason, if you found something you really like online, try your best to find similar websites. Simply type in “related:” in front of a web address, you already know. For example, related:adidas.ca., without a space between words. This Google search technique is especially useful when conducting market research.

4. The Power of the Asterisk

Like the blank tile in Scrabble, the asterisk * works as a placeholder within searches. Use it when your cunning memory prevents you from recalling a word, or parts of a word. For example, a search for child* will search for child, but also childhood, children, and any other word which starts with child.

5. Exact Phrase

This is the simplest way to specify that you only want websites—where the visible body text—exactly matches the sequence of words enclosed in quotation marks. For example, “Access to Information Act, RSC 1985, c A-1”. Use this search technique to find fragments from texts, or exact titles.

Remember…

All these tips solely focus on discovering information, yet this is a tiny part of the research process. If you want to learn more about research, this guide is for you!

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Bibliography

Gibbs, Samuel. (2016, January 15). How to use search like a pro: 10 tips and tricks for Google and beyond. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.thegaurdian.com/technology/2016/jan/15/how-to-use-search-like-a-pro-10-tips-and-tricks-for-google-and-beyond

Google LLC. (2019). How to search on Google. Retrieved March 4, 2019, from https://support.google.com/websearch/answer/134479?h1+en

Stetson University. (2018). Google Advanced Search & Google Shortcuts. Retrieved March 4, 2019, from https://guides.stetson.edu/c.php?g=431278&p=2942376

International Women’s Day

March 8, 2019 is International Women’s Day.  It is a day when we celebrate all that women have accomplished and is an important day for the women’s rights movement. The 2019 campaign theme is balance, specifically gender balance, and people are encouraged to take a picture facing the camera with arms bent, palms facing up and posting it to the hashtag #BalanceforBetter.

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The Library has many books on the women’s movement.  Here are a few that can help you celebrate International Women’s Day.

Women in science:  50 fearless pioneers who changed the world by Rachel Ignotofsky.  Q 141 I33 2016

Women who dig:  farming, feminism, and the fight to feed the world by Trina Moyles and K.J. Dakin.  HD 6077 M69 2018

The glass ceiling in the 21st century:  understanding barriers to gender equality by Manuela da Costa Barreto, Michelle K. Ryan and Michael T. Schmitt   HD 6060 G63 2009

Malala’s magic pencil by Malala Yousafzai   LC 2330 Y6825 2017

I can be anything!:  don’t tell me I can’t by Diane Dillon   PZ 7 D57917 Iak 2018

 

Open Education Week

Open Education Week runs March 4-8, 2019, celebrate by learning about open educational resources! Keep reading and then check out one of the many free online events being offered this year.

What is the Open Education Movement?

The Open Education Movement has one simple goal: to reduce potential barriers to education through cost, increased accessibility, and distribution methods. Open Educational Resources are a key component to that movement, as these resources aim to replace cost prohibitive textbooks and other resources which students are often required to purchase.

 

What is an OER?

Perhaps the best definition of OER comes from the OER Commons:

“Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching and learning materials that you may freely use and reuse at no cost. Unlike fixed, copyrighted resources, OER have been authored or created by an individual or organization that chooses to retain few, if any, ownership rights. In some cases, that means you can download a resource and share it with colleagues and students. In other cases, you may be able to download a resource, edit it in some way, and then re-post it as a remixed work.” ~ OER Commons

 

What is not an OER?

Anything that has a restrictive license agreement or terms of use is not an OER. For instance, most of your institutional library materials are not freely open, cannot be remixed or altered, and cannot be redistributed. These materials require special permission from the rights holder and therefore cannot be distributed openly.

 

Adapted from: McNutt, K. (2016). OER Champion’s Toolkit. Retrieved from: www.albertaoer.com under a CC-BY Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

OER’s at MHC

A number of MHC faculty members have already adopted OER’s for use in their classroom. Here’s just a few of the “free” and open texts used on campus this year.

 

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Freedom To Read Week!

Freedom to read week is upon us! But what does that really mean? This exciting annual event is focused on reminding us that, as Canadians and those living in Canada, we have the freedom to read what we want, when we want! And that is something to get excited for!

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 Put on by the Canadian freedom of expression committee, Canada Freedom to Read is all about celebrating the books the have been challenged and/or banned. The big question the week poses for everyone is why were these books challenged and/or banned in the first place? Was it legitimate or illegitimate? Even regular books, ones you grew up loving or we`re recently introduced to by family or friends, might have been banned, including:

  • To kill a mockingbird- Harper Lee
  • Harry Potter- JK Rowling`s
  • The Golden Compass- Philip Pullman
  • The Kite Runner- Khaled Hosseini
  • Habibi- Craig Thompson
  • Looking for Alaska- John Green
  • Captain Underpants- Dav Pikey
  • Hunger Ganes- Suzanne Collins
  • Bone- Jeff Smith
  • The Glass Castle- Jeanette Walls
  • Uncle Bobbys Wedding- Sarah S Brennan
  • The Earth, My butt and other big round things- Carolyn Macker
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Freedom to read week is centered on the question that while any book can be challenged for any number of reasons (offensive language, mature or graphic content, differences in ideological, theological or political positions and alternative perspectives), who has the right to stop you from reading? Though we enjoy the right year round, this week is about appreciating that even though a person disagrees with a book you are still entitled to read it! Sadly, there is a very long list of books that have been banned. Lucky for us, we have ability to read them if we want! So we took a look at the list and pick out some titles for your growing stack of TBR (to be read)!

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While there`s certainly no shortage of Challenged and banned books to choose from– The ALA releases a list of the top 10 most challenged books each years and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund maintains a list of challenged comics  –the following titles have been banned by various school and libraries across North America. (Bennett, 2018, Para 7)

11 Banned books that CBC Recommends

https://www.cbc.ca/books/11-canadian-books-that-have-been-challenged-1.4311368

EPL great article about Banned books

https://www.epl.ca/blogs/post/banned-books/EPL

Sources Cited

Bennett, M (2018, February 8). 7 Books You Never Knew Were Banned [Web log post] Retrived from https://www.epl.ca/blogs/post/banned-books/

Tips for Making the Most of Reading Week

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Have you considered any plans for reading week? Many students are looking forward to a much-needed break, but may not have considered how they will spend their time.  In order to make the most of the break, consider setting some goals based on how you want to feel when you return for the second half of the semester. If you want to come back feeling relaxed, productive, confident and fulfilled, consider these tips:

  1. Get Clarity – Leading up to the break, you likely had a lot on your plate, and there is likely more for you to do upon your return.   Do a mind dump and write everything down that is on your mind. Get clear on what you have accomplished leading up to the break and what is expected of you after the break. Review your course outlines to see what you have already covered and what is yet to come in each class.   This will help you gain a sense of control after a busy few weeks and will allow you to prepare for the second half of the semester.
  2. Rejuvenate –  Although reading week is a prime opportunity to get caught up on your course work, successful students take time out to rest their bodies and minds.  Catch up on sleep, plan healthy meals, spend time with family and friends, be active and get some “me” time.  Allowing the time for self-care over the break will lead to a clear mind and healthy body and will help you relax and be productive.
  3. Summer Job Search – If you are planning to attain summer work, consider updating your resume and applying for potential jobs.  Employers are already looking for students to fill summer positions, and this will allow you to get a head start on being a successful candidate without the pressures of school.
  4. Block Your Time – Reading week will give you the chance to have some free time and catch up, however the disrupted schedule can lead to distraction.  Be mindful of blocking time for what you want to accomplish and go about your days with intention.  Without blocking your time, you may get caught in distraction and before you know it the week will be over.  Plan catch up time during your most productive part of the day and “me” time for other parts of the day so you can end your week feeling relaxed, productive, confident and fulfilled.