Study skills

Critical self-reflection refers to analysing one’s personal skills and qualities in depth. Critical self-reflection also involves being able to identify where one has strengths and weaknesses, as well as finding a solution on how to better ones self. In this essay I shall be writing about how critically reflecting on the study skills I possess and those that need enhancing has helped me to improve and refine them. The skills I will be writing about include: understanding questions; writing an essay; being organised; time keeping and note taking.

By critically self-reflecting on my study skills I have found that I tend to lack understanding of essay questions. Recognising this weakness has allowed me to find a solution to improve my sense of clarity over any future essay question that is to be set. To progress my understanding of a question I cannot take it at face value, I need to look for the hidden meaning.

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The way in which I find this hidden meaning is by identifying the psychology words, these are essentially the words that direct my answer.

One way to identify these key words is by presenting the essay title in question to an individual of practical intelligence who has not studied psychology and wait for them to enquire about a word or words. Once they have enquired about the meaning of a word or words I will know that my answer should focus around them (Stevenson, 2001). Critically self-reflecting on why I struggle to understand an essay question has empowered me to discover the reason behind this as well as allowing me to find a suitable solution to improve and refine my understanding of essay questions.

Another issue I struggle with is writing an essay. The fact that I struggled to understand essay questions may have added to the difficulty of previously writing essays. Now that I have a strategy to successfully understand an essay question this will ultimately help me to write any future essays. Once I have decrypted the hidden meaning of a psychology question by identifying the psychology words I can then start my essay by briefly but clearly defining these words. By doing so I

allow myself to portray my knowledge as well as concisely mentioning the key areas that my essay will focus on. However to further better my understanding of a question in order to write an essay I need to also identify the instruction words for instance: describe, which is to objectively provide detail of a study, theory or some concept; and define, this is asking you to accurately explain the definition of a word and or phrase. These instruction words are essentially guiding me on what I have to do in my essays (Stevenson 2001).

Through understanding a question more clearly I will give myself more knowledge on how to start essays and how to direct my answer towards the question. Allowing myself to critically think about why it is I struggle to write an essay has made me realise that there are practical solutions to help me solve my problem. In turn critical self- reflection has in turn made it much easier for me to write an essay. On the other hand, I am a much organised individual. I am good at time keeping as well as being a punctual individual.

Retaining these skills means that I don’t miss any part of a lecture or seminar which is a crucial part of my learning as these lectures and seminars guide me towards what I need to know for my exams. In addition I am able to organise my notes according to each module in chronological order. This is a useful skill because it makes it considerable easier for me to find certain notes when needed. To refine my time keeping skills further I can write the page number in the margin whilst making notes rather than looking through the whole text.

Also leaving spaces whilst making notes will allow me to go back and add more detail when necessary. Moreover, instead of re-writing notes to ensure they are grouped correctly I can number them on different pages which will help me to distinguish which information falls in which group (Cottrell, 2008). In hindsight I have found that taking some time to research how I can refine my time keeping further has been and will be beneficially to me in the future. However note taking during lectures, after lectures, from text books, articles and journals is somewhat hard.

One way to improve on my note taking skills would be by highlighting key words. Highlighting key words will assist focusing my attention on the text; it will also be time efficient as there will be no need to read through the whole text (Chambers, 2001). Critically reflecting has helped me to improve and refine my note taking skills as I have found a suitable technique to develop on this particular skill. Using critical self-reflection on my study skills such as note taking has permitted me to once again find effective tactics to overcome my difficulty in making notes.

In conclusion the use of critical self-reflection to improve and refine my study skills has been very beneficial. Not only has self-reflection helped me to improve on my weaknesses of learning to learn but it has also allowed me to refine my skills such as time keeping further. I have learnt various methods on how to improve my understanding of a question; as well as how to write an essay; I have also learnt how to better manage my time keeping; in addition to taking effective notes and overall how to tackle a problem when faced with it.

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