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X150: Becoming the Best Student

 An 8-Week “Academic Booster Shot”

 

Credits: 2

Duration: 8 weeks

Offered: 1st and 2nd 8 weeks, Fall and Spring

Cap: 19

 

Overview

X150 is an “academic booster shot” for freshmen and sophomores who need to quickly and drastically ramp-up their performance and increase their academic success in all their classes.  What we’re looking to do with this booster shot is to invite students into a process of self-transformation.  That transformation is one in which we facilitate changing students from surface learners into deep learners.  As such, the central focus is not really so much activating a set of specific skills, but rather building an attitudinal framework that will be developed to cultivate skills.  We will accomplish this through a variety of stimulating, useful, and collaborative activities and exercises in which students will themselves identify, design, and implement their own tools and strategies they can use in all their classes.

 

Objectives

The overall objective is that students leave this course transformed into different kinds of learners—the best students.  To facilitate this transformation, we must start with changing students’ mental models of what it means to be a student, or to learn.  For many, their way forward along this path is obstructed because they have learned to become “surface” learners.  Surface learners look for facts and words they can memorize so they can focus only on passing their exams and their courses.  And some students have figured out how to take this approach as far as it will go and ace their tests in high school.  Others at least figure out how to get by and avoid failure.  But that doesn’t mean they’ve actually learned anything, enjoyed it at all, or that this approach will work in college.

How can we help you to become the best college student you can be?  By creating opportunities for you to become reflexive, self-regulated, and deep learners:

Reflexive learners are self-aware – they set goals, monitor motivation and comprehension, and constantly evaluate their progress and performance on assignments, in specific areas of study, and in college more generally.  They think about their own thinking, and connect this with their own broader educational, personal, and occupational goals.

Self-Regulated  learners understand that learning and studying are active processes that they control.  They know it is up to them to get what they want and what they need out of their education.  They will find what they need to make that happen or create it if necessary.  When they do encounter obstacles, they make the most of their avenues of support.

Deep learners, like other students, care about grades and careers, too—but they are most motivated to do well by a love of learning itself.  It’s not enough for them to go through the motions—they want to understand the meaning behind what they’re learning.  So they choose to make the most of all their college work, looking to broaden and deepen their perspective.  This means that they treat their education as an opportunity for personal growth that will lead them to a life full of curiosity, wonder, understanding, and compassion.  They invest in the idea that college will fine-tune their critical thinking, so they can meet and deconstruct the world as it is—with all of its complex problems and issues.  And they use their education to develop the creativity necessary to re-imagine the world as it might be.

Using this framework, students will create and learn to effectively use an individually tailored skill set in tandem with their other classes that includes:

  • constructing an academic autobiography and setting goals
  • creating effective systems for organization and time management
  • learning about learning
  • thinking critically and creatively
  • engaging, active listening, and note-taking
  • reading and studying for better comprehension
  • developing memory and taking tests

Some of these skills will be defined by the instructor as fundamental for becoming a successful learner, but there will be significant opportunity for students to specify their own individual objectives and make choices about which skills they need to develop the most as they gain an increased awareness of their own strengths and weaknesses.

By becoming reflexive, self-regulated, and deep learners, students will learn how to mine their college courses for ideas that effect permanent change in how they think, act, and feel.  They’ll learn how to get good grades, too, but they’ll get far more than this – they’ll learn how to get an education.

 

For More Information

Contact Anthony Guest-Scott at aguestsc@indiana.edu/855-7301, or stop by the Student Academic Center (408 N. Union St. Suite 300) with any questions!