speeding up your reading

Speeding Up Your ReadingOn Wednesday, October 1 from 12-1PM in the FPH West Lecture Hall, Lise Sanders, associate professor of English literature and cultural studies, presented a special reading skills workshop to an audience of staff and students. Couldn’t make it? Need a recap? Read on for more information about what you missed, and how to get a hold of the resources that were shared in this session.

What Happened:
While participants enjoyed a delicious lunch, Lise invited students to share what brought them to the workshop, and what obstacles they most frequently face with regard to completing all of their reading. Common themes in the room included retaining information for class discussion, identifying the most important pieces of information to absorb, staying focused while reading, and the need to read more effectively in a shorter amount of time.

Sound familiar?!

With these concerns in mind, Lise went on to to introduce a variety of different techniques to address these issues, keeping participants engaged with one another through reading, paired sharing, and other activities. Lise shared a number of handouts with the group, and offered participants the opportunity to ask questions after discussing a variety of techniques.

What We Learned:

  • Keep in mind that you may need to use different reading tactics for different types of texts, and approach assignments accordingly. Lise shared this handout on reading critical arguments, which provides a step by step overview of how to approach this particular type of text.
  • It’s okay to ask ahead! When you receive an assignment, consider speaking to your professor about what areas of the reading you’ll be focusing on in class discussion. This will help to guide your reading and make you more prepared to participate. If you have concerns, talk to your professor. They may have specific tips to help you maximize the effectiveness of your reading time, particularly with regard to the text at hand.
  • Approaching an entire page of text can be difficult to do. Train your eye to focus on the line you’re reading by using something to mark your place on the page. In the workshop, students used four fingers to guide their eyes across lines on the page, in a technique called long smooth underline. With practice, this can become a mechanical technique for training your eye to move faster.
  • You can diagnose your own comprehension and retention of your reading by pausing from time to time to verbally summarize what you’ve read. Participants engaged in pair sharing of these “tellbacks” to assess their own comprehension in the workshop, but this is also something that you can do on your own, or even record and play back to yourself. By summarizing aloud, you can move the knowledge you’ve gained into deeper memory.
  • When reading nonfiction, you can and should feel free to read the conclusion first. There’s no point in keeping the conclusion a secret from yourself, and reading in reverse can help you to better seek the features that will allow you to identify the main points of the text. Look up terms after your first review so you won’t have to continually stop while you’re trying to read.
  • Remember that as a reader, you have a unique critical perspective. Consider your own arguments and critical engagement with the text while you read — this will help you to gauge your own retention and comprehension.

Really Good Advice: Good Brain Time vs. Bad Brain Time*
Think about the times of day when you’re most “on”. For some of us, it’s first thing in the morning, while for others, it’s very, very late at night. Do you know when your own good brain time is? If so, use it! Prioritize your reading and other tasks based on when you’re most “on” — you’ll likely read and absorb more during your good brain time. Wondering what to do with your bad brain time? Save tasks that require less thinking for these periods. Once you’ve identified your own rhythm, you’ll be able to accomplish more.

*Lise attributes this concept to Lauren Berlant, one of her graduate advisors at the University of Chicago.

Use These Resources:

  • Have questions for Lise? Want to learn more about reading techniques? Get in touch with the workshop facilitator, Lise Sanders, at lsanders@hampshire.edu. She’s happy to help!
  • Can’t get enough of these great academic skills? Join us for another workshop! Our next workshop, Life Management 101, will be held on Thursday, October 2 from 3:30-4:30PM in FPH 101. Learn how to manage your time and improve your organization, all while enjoying some free snacks. See you there!

Questions? Did we miss something? E-mail us at newtohamp@hampshire.edu for more information!

everything you wanted to know about division II but were afraid to ask

Written by program assistant Nina Gunther-Segal 13F

Everything You Wanted to KnowThe end of the semester is fast approaching, so first years are beginning to start thinking about passing Div I and moving on to Div II. To help us gain an understanding of this process, on Monday, March 31st in the FPH Faculty Lounge, Ernie Alleva from the Center for Academic Support and Advising (CASA) held a workshop about Division II for a group of Division I students.

Passing Div I
The first step in figuring out Div II is passing Div I. The bottom line for finishing Div I is talking to your advisor, so try to set up a meeting as soon as possible — it can only help! When you finish with your academic requirements for Div I, you’ll assemble a portfolio; talk to your advisor about this, because many ask for slightly different things, and they can tell you what specifically they’re asking for. The portfolio generally includes a retrospective essay, course evaluations, representative samples of your work, etc. Once you’ve assembled your portfolio, schedule a final, roughly half-hour meeting with your advisor to discuss the year: what’s gone well, your strengths and weaknesses, what you’re looking forward to, and so forth.

What’s the timeline for this? It depends. People will be finishing Div I from early May to early-mid February 2015. It’s possible to finish in May, but some will and some won’t — it depends on what requirements you’ve completed, and what you still need to do. Some people will have additional work in the fall semester. However, you won’t be able to officially pass Div I until June 15th, the deadline for faculty spring semester evaluations. Although you can’t officially be filed for Div II until you’ve passed Div I, you can get going on Div II pretty much anytime. You might even have done work the first year or before you pass Div I that can count towards your Div II.

What’s a Div II?
Div II is organized differently than Div I — for one thing, it has no distribution requirements, there’s no official number of courses required, and it’s not on any kind of course credit system. That said, you’ll hear faculty members throwing around numbers regarding what you need for your Div II — some faculty members will say “If you want me on your committee, you have to take X number of courses,” but it depends. The reason that there’s no specific number of courses required is because your Div II can vary significantly — it can include internships, independent research, research assistantships and teaching assistantships, among other valuable learning experiences. Division II portfolios upon completion will have at least 14-15 academic courses in addition to learning activities, internships, etc.

Now, other information about the content of your Div II — It’s all about your planning the trajectory of your studies yourself — it’s self-designed, in conjunction with faculty members. The goal of Div II is not to focus narrowly, but to give you a general set of skills in areas that interest you. This lack of a template makes Div II possibly more challenging, but it can also be a lot more interesting: for instance, it leaves open the possibility for interdisciplinary work. Div II is roughly equivalent to a major, minor or concentration, but there aren’t traditional departments; instead, you assemble a faculty committee.

Filing Div II
You need to come up with a proposal for Div II, which will eventually become your Div II contract. The first task is putting something down on paper–come up with a description, including things like ideas, problems, questions, materials, and techniques you want to work with. Make it so someone who doesn’t have a clue about you can understand; get something down as a basis for conversation with faculty about your goals. Ultimately, your contract will be an agreement between you and your committee regarding what you’ll do. In addition to stating the possible content of your Div II, talk about how you’d like to go about pursuing that; this can include what kinds of courses might be relevant (actual or hypothetical), as well as pursuits like  internships, study abroad/exchange programs, and research assistantships. Be prepared to tweak things as a result of conversations with faculty members; you will do one revision of your contract before you complete Div II so that what you actually did is reflected in its content.

Your next step is to contact prospective faculty members who might be good for your committee. The committee typically has two people (or sometimes three), an advisor/chair and a committee member. The distinction between members and chairs isn’t a very important distinction (officially, it has to do with who checks you off for things on the Hub) — the exact roles played by each depends on faculty availability and what you prefer. In addition to having one or two people who are knowledgeable about what you’re working on, the most important thing has having people that you want to work with. Take some time to talk to students and faculty members about who might be good for your committee. And it’s not unusual for people to have faculty on their committee with whom they haven’t yet worked, so that shouldn’t be an impediment to your reaching out to people. As for when to do this? Sooner is better because as students ask them, faculty will fill up their quota — definitely start talking to faculty by the fall, and don’t wait until February. There’s no cost to waiting till next spring for Div II as long as you already have a committee, but the final deadline is mid-February — if you don’t do it by then, Zena Clift and Ernie Alleva from CASA will start hounding you, and you might eventually have to spend another semester in Div I.

In addition to filing your Div II contract (having the final version on the Hub and signed off there by your committee), for students in high-demand programs at Hampshire, there’s a separate application process. These programs include creative writing, theatre, studio art, film/photo/video, and game design. If you want someone to be on your committee in connection with those programs, you have to file a separate application, the aim of which is primarily to provide fairness in the distribution of faculty on committees.

More about the specifics of Div II
Although the prospect of narrowing down your interests might be an intimidating one, note that not everything you do in Div II has to be a part of your focus. There might be things in there that are unrelated — for instance, if you’re focusing on painting, you might take a physics course. You just need a core of work that explores and develops your focus. You can also modify your Div II and committee if you change your mind–the contract is not set in stone, and sometimes people radically revise it.

Div II has different requirements than Div I. Instead of CEL-1, it has CEL-2, which stands for “Community Engaged Learning”. This can’t usually be satisfied by OPRA; instead, you work with organizations, work with other students on projects, etc. The bottom line is that it’s decided by the committee what can count towards CEL-2; you need to have someone (your supervisor, a co-worker) write you an evaluation, and typically, it should add up to at least 40 hours of work. In addition, there’s also the multicultural perspectives requirement, which you have to document in your final portfolio; sometimes your committee will also ask you to write a self-reflection; and again, the bottom line is that your committee decides what you need and what can qualify for this.

Toward the end of Div II, in addition to revising the contract, you’ll put together a portfolio–much larger than the Div I portfolio, but with a similar overall structure: a retrospective essay of about 8-20 pages, representative samples of your work, evaluations/self-evaluations, and related activities (talk to your committee about what to include). You’ll also schedule a final meeting towards the end of or after your sixth semester, to spend an hour talking about your progress, what else you want to do and the process of moving on to Div III.

Need more info?
Contact the folks at CASA — Ernie Alleva (ealleva@hampshire.edu) or Zena Clift (zclift@hampshire.edu). You can also make an appointment with one of them by calling 413-559-5498.

Still have questions? Email us at newtohamp@hampshire.edu. We’re happy to help!

taming your reading dragons

Written by program assistant Nina Gunther-Segal 13F

Taming Your Reading DragonsOn Tuesday, February 25 (after some scheduling issues due to snow!) Asha Kinney and Alana Kumbier shared their reading expertise with a group of interested students. Asha works in IT, specifically with educational technology, and Alana is a research librarian who works mostly with CSI classes. If you’re interested in getting an overview of what happened at this workshop and what resources were introduced — if you, too, would like to learn to tame those reading dragons — read on!

What Happened:
Participating students received a handout with a list of the topics that would be covered at the meeting, their brains fueled by the multitude of delicious snacks provided (seriously, Trader Joe’s has the best snacks). Alana and Asha started off by giving participants the opportunity to ask to focus on specific things with which they might have needed help. They went on to provide participants with tons of helpful information, starting with low-tech options (all-purpose reading and distraction-avoidance strategies) and then ramping up to higher-tech ones (dealing with PDFs, text-to-speech, etc.).

What We Learned–Low-Tech Tips:

  • The SQ3R reading method: This is a prescribed process for reading that really helps with retaining and digesting the information you encounter. It’s broken down into five steps:
    1. Survey – Go over the chapter, looking at headings and its general structure and content, before you dive in more deeply.
    2. Question – While surveying, ask questions about what you’re seeing (i.e. turn headings into questions).
    3. Read – This one’s pretty self-explanatory, but basically just do what you’d normally do when reading, structuring your understanding with your prior surveying/questioning.
    4. Recite – After reading a section, go back over its content and tell it back to yourself (or another person). Reproducing the content in your own words can be especially helpful if you need to write a paper on the topic and want to assimilate the information to avoid reciting it verbatim.
    5. Review – Step away from the chapter and then come back to it over a period of several days to better assimilate it.
  • Reading three times: Don’t worry–this doesn’t mean three times as much work! Instead, try this:
    1. Skim the reading (look at the headings, intro, and conclusion).
    2. Read more deeply — add annotations, and attempt to contextualize the information in the overall study of your class to figure out what’s most important to retain.
    3. Go back and note whatever is most important after class discussion of the reading.
  • Pomodoro Technique: This entails working in 25-minute increments (or however long works best for you) to accomplish a task. So many of us don’t even start a task because it’s too daunting, so breaking it down and having an end in sight makes it more psychologically manageable. Here’s how this works:
    1. Pick a task to accomplish.
    2. Set a timer for 25 minutes (here’s a helpful one: pomodoro.me).
    3. Work on the task without any diversion for 25 minutes, until the timer rings (if anything else comes up, ignore it and write it down to do later).
    4. Also helpful is keeping track of how many increments you’re doing for a task, to get a sense of your general pacing for various tasks (i.e. to read a certain number of pages); this allows you to plan the timing of your future work.
  • Miscellany:

    1. If you’re reading and you come across words or concepts you don’t know, take note of them and skip them, then return to them later–this helps prevent breaking the flow of your focus.
    2. A speed-reading technique that helps with visual focus is placing your fingers below the line you’re reading and following along so that only that line is visible. You can increase the speed of your hand’s movement to encourage yourself to read more quickly without losing track of your place on the page.

Higher-Tech Reading Tips:

  • Making text in a PDF recognizable to your computer: If you want to be able to select blocks of text or use text-to-speech, your computer needs to recognize it as text — the text in PDFs often appears to your computer as an image (especially if it’s a scanned book), but there’s a way to fix this! Robobraille.org allows you to upload a PDF and change it into recognizable text; you can also pick what kind of file it’s converted into (i.e. document, mp3 audio, Braille, e-book).
  • Adobe Reader annotations: Adobe Reader 11 (if you don’t already have it, it’s available for free download) has various tools for annotation. These include sticky notes, highlighting in different colors, recording audio, and drawing shapes. You can also search the text content of your notes for particular terms, making it a lot easier to find your notes on a particular subject. Preview also has similar features for annotation.
  • Text to speech: Hearing as well as seeing a reading can be helpful for understanding, and help keep focus. You can do this through robobraille.org, by having the PDF converted to mp3 audio. Mac users can select a block of text in TextEdit and convert it to an iTunes mp3 (and even change the voice and its speed in System Preferences > Speech > Text to speech). You can also download NaturalReader for free. And if you have an iPad/iPhone/Android, there’s the VoiceDream app, which has better voices than usual and a perfectly serviceable free version.
  • BeeLine Reader: Go to beelinereader.org to have the color of your text change in a subtle gradation, in such a way as to help keep your eye flowing. It sounds weird, but is actually really helpful.

A Final Note:
Asha and Alana noted the importance of having a backup method for documents. Hard drives die, and as terrible as that is, it’s even more terrible if they contain all your work and you lose that, too. There are several ways to do this, and an added benefit is that they make your work accessible from multiple computers (as well as iPhones and other devices):

  • Dropbox: It’s a free service that gives you plenty of remote storage in a folder on your desktop. Sign up and download it here: https://www.dropbox.com.
  • Google Drive: Allows you to create documents, presentations, spreadsheets, etc. and keep them all in one place on your Google Drive account, organized by folder. (drive.google.com)

Get In Touch:
If you’d like to reach Alana or Asha, or want more information on the workshop handouts, here’s their contact info:

Questions? Comments? You can reach us at newtohamp@hampshire.edu.

organizing your papers (and your life)

Organizing Your PapersOn Tuesday, February 18 from 3:30-4:30PM in the FPH Faculty Lounge, Will Ryan and Deb Gorlin, two of the three co-directors of the writing program, presented a special writing skills workshop to a group of first and second semester students. Couldn’t make it? Wondering what you missed? Read on for more information about what happened, how to get a hold of the resources that were shared in this session, and how to connect with the Writing Center!

What Happened:
While participants enjoyed some delicious snacks, Will and Deb asked them to introduce themselves and share the details of a current writing project and why it had them vexed. Participants spoke about perfectionism, desiring to impress faculty members whose work they respect, finding space for themselves in their own writing, improving their note taking in research, and struggling to find the words to accurately capture their thoughts. Sound familiar? Will and Deb used this information as a starting point in framing the workshop to cater to the needs of attendees.

Will and Deb began by sharing some useful advice about understanding writing assignments and prompts and the writing process, and then spent some time answering individual questions. They later went on to introduce a model for organizing analytical writing, which they further explained with a handout that has been dubbed as the most requested in the history of the writing program (you can view it here!). The facilitators followed the handout throughout the session, explaining each step and providing helpful hints for each stage. We’ve included a number of these hints below!

What We Learned (and other helpful notes from Will and Deb):

  • Getting ready to start a writing assignment? The first thing you should do is read the course description all the way through. Assignments are drawn from this document, and reminding yourself of the fullness of a course’s content can often help you if you’re struggling to start an assignment. Next, read the assignment to make sure you have a full understanding of the instructions and expectations. If the assignment is based on a text, make sure to read the assignment first. You’ll read the text more effectively and will be able to start calling out pertinent information sooner. Sound obvious? You’d be surprised at how many people miss this step!
  • Finished reading the text, but not sure that you understand the reading? Feel free to look up book reviews and secondary sources to help clarify things for you. Once you have this supplemental information, you can go back to the original text for a more informed read.
  • Ready to start writing? You might benefit from freewriting about the text first to help you spark some ideas for how you want to proceed. Once you’ve taken some time to think about things, try making an outline to organize the main points that you want to make. Just as you’d work out a math problem on paper, determining how to organize your work on paper can be a tremendous help. You don’t have to figure it all out in your head.
  • Once you begin your draft, pay attention to what part of the paper you’re in at any given moment (introduction, literature review, method, body, conclusion). Use the guidelines provided in the handout to help you determine how long each section should be, and where the different pieces of information you wish to share should be included.
  • Are your main points changing as you continue writing? That’s okay! Periodically going back and adjusting the introduction to accommodate these changes is an important part of the writing process. Plan to revise, and give yourself enough time to do so.

Additional Tips from the Facilitators:

  • Faculty often write assignments in the form of a paper outline. Try to break apart the prompt in this way to better organize your thoughts.
  • Your process is your process — don’t compare yourself to others. Some writers are heavy planners (pre-planning each step), while others are heavy revisers (free-writing first and organizing things during revision). The brainstorming <–> organizing <–> drafting <–> revising <–> editing <–> brainstorming loop goes in both directions, and doesn’t always have to be linear!
  • Thinking of taking a break? Don’t stop writing until you know what you’re going to say next. It’s much easier to come back to a writing piece when you’ve given yourself something to go on.

Get In Touch:
Want to schedule an appointment for yourself? Call or email the Writing Center staff to set up a meeting time:

  • Will Ryan – wjrWP@hampshire.edu – 413.559.5646
  • Deb Gorlin – dfgWP@hampshire.edu – 413.559.5531
  • Ellie Siegel – etsWP@hampshire.edu – 413.559.5577

Kyla and Andrew, the Writing Center interns, also hold drop-in sessions from 6-10 p.m., Monday-Thursday in the Library Training Room on the 2nd floor of the Johnson Library. Kyla and Andrew are also available on Sundays from 1-9 p.m. Check out their flyer for details on how to set up an appointment, send drafts, etc.

Learn More:
Can’t get enough of these great academic skills? Join us for another workshop! Our next workshop, Taming Your Reading Dragons, will be held on Tuesday, February 25 from 3:30-4:30PM in FPH 102. Learn how to get through your reading with the help of technology, all while enjoying some free snacks!

Questions? Did we miss something? E-mail us at newtohamp@hampshire.edu for more information.

cel-what?

CEL-What FlierOn Thursday, November 14 from 3:30-4:30PM in FPH 101, Ivana Staiti, assistant director of community partnerships for social change and community engagement, set out to answer this question for new students. Have you started your CEL-1 yet? Still have questions? Read on for some great information about how to get going.

What Happened:
Attendees came with questions, and had the opportunity to learn more about the requirement and how to sign up for activities. Ivana also shared this helpful handout that broke down the steps for CEL-1 registration and sponsorship. Did you see the CEL-What? bulletin boards in Dakin and Merrill Houses? Check them out if you haven’t already — they’re chock full of information about FAQs, what counts, and other great tips. Most of this information is also available on the CEL-1 website.

What We Learned:

  • There are lots of different ways to complete the requirement, and there’s no need to choose just one activity to satisfy all 40 hours. By engaging in a multitude of activities, you’ll gain experience in different areas of campus life, meet more people, and have more opportunities to connect the CEL-1 to your academic interests.
  • New activities are posted almost every day, and each has a different timeline. Check back regularly to learn more about short and long term opportunities. Some last only a day, while others span entire semesters. You never know what you’ll find.
  • Participation in student groups, OPRA, EPEC, and Lemelson co-curricular courses counts towards this requirement, so you may have already started without even knowing it. Talk to your advisor and take a look at the website for more information on how to register the things that you’ve already started, and to ensure that these hours count towards your completion.
  • Although there are countless posted activities, it is possible to create your own. Staff, faculty, Division II, and Division III students can sponsor activities. If there’s something you’d really like to work on, talk to your advisor about how your idea will fit into the requirement and how to find someone to sponsor your work.

Use These Resources:

Did we miss anything? E-mail us at newtohamp@hampshire.edu for more information!

life management 101

Life ManagementOn Monday, November 4 from 3:30-4:30PM in the FPH Faculty Lounge, Joel Dansky, disabilities services coordinator and academic support skills specialist, presented a special time management workshop for an audience of new and returning students. Did you miss it? Need more information? You’ve come to the right place! Read on for details on what happened, how to find support, and further time management resources.

What Happened:
While participants enjoyed some delicious snacks, Joel presented a brief Powerpoint which addressed the many challenges that students face with regard to time management, and offered strategies to help students to plan ahead, make the most of the unstructured time between classes, and work more efficiently. Joel then introduced a three part system for organization,The Big Picture,” “The Weekly Grind,” and “The Daily Plan,” which led to an interactive portion of the presentation. Through the use of a variety of different handouts related to these models, participants had the opportunity to create a color-coded, visual representation of their weekly and monthly schedules, and identify pockets of valuable time that they didn’t realize they had!

What We Learned:

  • Procrastination, distraction, and perfectionism are the three enemies of effective time management. Think you do best under pressure? The work you produce isn’t likely your best work, just the best you can do with the limited time you’ve allotted. Planning ahead can help to alleviate stress, no matter your reasons for waiting until the last minute. By creating small, manageable goals and structuring your time more effectively, you’ll accomplish more and yield better results!
  • The “Big Picture” is a useful tool for mapping an entire semester, and is available in hard copy in the Center for Academic Support and Advising (CASA) each semester. Participants received an 11″x17″ academic calendar for this activity, but you can do it yourself with a planner or a regular calendar. At the start of the semester, gather your syllabi and mark down all of the important dates and deadlines for each course on your calendar. Once you have a full picture of what you’ll need to complete and when, you can identify key steps and work backwards to create small goals for yourself. This will help you to start things ahead of time, and avoid the confluence of too many deadlines all at once.
  • The Weekly Grind” allows you to create a visual representation of what a typical week looks like for you. Participants mapped out their regular schedule on a weekly calendar in an effort to identify blocks of time between fixed appointments, classes, and other obligations. What did they notice? They have more time than they think they do, and you might too! Take these chunks of time and specify what you’d like to accomplish in each, and give some structure to the larger periods of free time (long weekends, etc.), making sure to vary the types of work you do each day. You’ll be amazed at how much more you can accomplish!
  • Find a daily planning system that works for you. One calendar that you look at every day is better than several that you don’t, so find something that is portable, visual, and spacious enough for a to-do list, and keep it with you throughout the day. Don’t overload yourself, but do keep your planner as up to date as possible with class, work, and meeting times, as well as appointments, deadlines, and fun things.
  • Do you write best in the morning? Can’t get any work done in your room? Consider what times of day and where you do your best work, and plan accordingly!
  • The best system is the system that works for you, so feel free to try a few things as you work to get yourself organized. No system works 100% of the time — keep yourself open to new ideas and ways of planning. Don’t hesitate to reward yourself for accomplishing particular tasks. There are lots of different ways to get motivated!

Use These Resources:

  • Want hard copies of the workshop handouts? Interested in some personalized time management support? Get in touch with the workshop facilitator, Joel Dansky, at jdansky@hampshire.edu. He’s happy to help!

Questions? Let us know! E-mail us at newtohamp@hampshire.edu for more information.

keeping up with your reading

Keeping Up With Your ReadingOn Thursday, October 24 from 12-1PM in the FPH Faculty Lounge, Lise Sanders, associate professor of English literature and cultural studies, presented a special reading skills workshop to an audience of staff and students. Couldn’t make it? Need a recap? Read on for more information about what you missed, and how to get a hold of the resources that were shared in this session.

What Happened:
While participants enjoyed a free lunch, Lise invited students to share what brought them to the workshop, and what obstacles they most frequently face with regard to completing all of their reading. Common themes in the room included retaining information for class discussion, identifying the most important pieces of information to absorb, how to prioritize reading tasks, and the need to read more effectively in the time allotted for a specific task.

Sound familiar?!

With these concerns in mind, Lise went on to to introduce a variety of different techniques to address these issues, keeping participants engaged with one another through reading, paired sharing, and other activities. Lise shared a number of handouts with the group, and offered participants the opportunity to ask questions after discussing a variety of techniques.

What We Learned:

  • In order to read more effectively, you must commit to being an active and engaged reader. Read with the firm intention of deducing the author’s main point, not just to get through the right number of pages. Your focus will aid your success.
  • Keep in mind that you may need to use different reading tactics for different types of texts, and approach assignments accordingly. Lise shared this handout on reading critical arguments, which provides a step by step overview of how to approach this particular type of text.
  • It’s okay to ask ahead! When you receive an assignment, consider speaking to your professor about what areas of the reading you’ll be focusing on in class discussion. This will help to guide your reading and make you more prepared to participate. If you have concerns, talk to your professor. They may have specific tips to help you maximize the effectiveness of your reading time, particularly with regard to the text at hand.
  • Approaching an entire page of text can be difficult to do. Train your eye to focus on the line you’re reading by using something to mark your place on the page. In the workshop, students used four fingers to guide their eyes across lines on the page, in a technique called long smooth underline. With practice, this can become a mechanical technique for training your eye to move faster.
  • You can diagnose your own comprehension and retention of your reading by pausing from time to time to verbally summarize what you’ve read. Participants engaged in pair sharing of these “tellbacks” to assess their own comprehension in the workshop, but this is also something that you can do on your own, or even record and play back to yourself. By summarizing aloud, you can move the knowledge you’ve gained into deeper memory.
  • When reading nonfiction, you can and should feel free to read the conclusion first. There’s no point in keeping the conclusion a secret from yourself, and reading in reverse can help you to better seek the features that will allow you to identify the main points of the text. Look up terms after your first review so you won’t have to continually stop while you’re trying to read.
  • Remember that as a reader, you have a unique critical perspective. Consider your own arguments and critical engagement with the text while you read — this will help you to gauge your own retention and comprehension.

Really Good Advice: Good Brain Time vs. Bad Brain Time*
Think about the times of day when you’re most “on”. For some of us, it’s first thing in the morning, while for others, it’s very, very late at night. Do you know when your own good brain time is? If so, use it! Prioritize your reading and other tasks based on when you’re most “on” — you’ll likely read and absorb more during your good brain time. Wondering what to do with your bad brain time? Save tasks that require less thinking for these periods. Once you’ve identified your own rhythm, you’ll be able to accomplish more.

*Lise attributes this concept to Lauren Berlant, one of her graduate advisors at the University of Chicago.

Use These Resources:

  • Have questions for Lise? Want to learn more about reading techniques? Get in touch with the workshop facilitator, Lise Sanders, at lsanders@hampshire.edu. She’s happy to help!
  • Can’t get enough of these great academic skills? Join us for another workshop! Our next workshop, Life Management 101, will be held on Monday, November 4 from 3:30-4:30PM in the FPH Faculty Lounge. Learn how to manage your time and improve your organization, all while enjoying some free snacks. See you there!

Questions? Did we miss something? E-mail us at newtohamp@hampshire.edu for more information!

life management 101

Life ManagementOn Tuesday, October 1 from 3:30-4:30PM in FPH 101, Joel Dansky, disabilities services coordinator and academic support skills specialist, presented a special time management workshop for an audience of new and returning students. Did you miss it? Need more information? You’ve come to the right place! Read on for details on what happened, how to find support, and further time management resources.

What Happened:
While participants enjoyed some delicious snacks, Joel presented a brief Powerpoint which addressed the many challenges that students face with regard to time management, and offered strategies to help students to plan ahead, make the most of the unstructured time between classes, and work more efficiently. Joel then introduced a three part system for organization,The Big Picture,” “The Weekly Grind,” and “The Daily Plan,” which led to an interactive portion of the presentation. Through the use of a variety of different handouts related to these models, participants had the opportunity to create a color-coded, visual representation of their weekly and monthly schedules, and identify pockets of valuable time that they didn’t realize they had!

What We Learned:

  • Procrastination, distraction, and perfectionism are the three enemies of effective time management. Think you do best under pressure? The work you produce isn’t likely your best work, just the best you can do with the limited time you’ve allotted. Planning ahead can help to alleviate stress, no matter your reasons for waiting until the last minute. By creating small, manageable goals and structuring your time more effectively, you’ll accomplish more and yield better results!
  • The “Big Picture” is a useful tool for mapping an entire semester, and is available in hard copy in the Center for Academic Support and Advising (CASA) each semester. Participants received an 11″x17″ academic calendar for this activity, but you can do it yourself with a planner or a regular calendar. At the start of the semester, gather your syllabi and mark down all of the important dates and deadlines for each course on your calendar. Once you have a full picture of what you’ll need to complete and when, you can identify key steps and work backwards to create small goals for yourself. This will help you to start things ahead of time, and avoid the confluence of too many deadlines all at once.
  • The Weekly Grind” allows you to create a visual representation of what a typical week looks like for you. Participants mapped out their regular schedule on a weekly calendar in an effort to identify blocks of time between fixed appointments, classes, and other obligations. What did they notice? They have more time than they think they do, and you might too! Take these chunks of time and specify what you’d like to accomplish in each, and give some structure to the larger periods of free time (long weekends, etc.), making sure to vary the types of work you do each day. You’ll be amazed at how much more you can accomplish!
  • Find a daily planning system that works for you. One calendar that you look at every day is better than several that you don’t, so find something that is portable, visual, and spacious enough for a to-do list, and keep it with you throughout the day. Don’t overload yourself, but do keep your planner as up to date as possible with class, work, and meeting times, as well as appointments, deadlines, and fun things.
  • Do you write best in the morning? Can’t get any work done in your room? Consider what times of day and where you do your best work, and plan accordingly!
  • The best system is the system that works for you, so feel free to try a few things as you work to get yourself organized. No system works 100% of the time — keep yourself open to new ideas and ways of planning. Don’t hesitate to reward yourself for accomplishing particular tasks. There are lots of different ways to get motivated!

Use These Resources:

  • Want hard copies of the workshop handouts? Interested in some personalized time management support? Get in touch with the workshop facilitator, Joel Dansky, at jdansky@hampshire.edu. He’s happy to help!

Questions? Let us know! E-mail us at newtohamp@hampshire.edu for more information.

finding the right sources

Finding the Right SourcesWith less than a month left of classes, deadlines for final papers and projects are fast approaching. Wondering where to start? You’re not alone! On Wednesday, April 3 from 12-1PM in the FPH Faculty Lounge, the research librarians held a special workshop on finding the right sources to help you complete your work. Couldn’t make it? Wondering what you missed? Read on for lots of great information!

What Happened:
While participants enjoyed a delicious (and free!) lunch, research librarians Bonnie Vigeland, Rachel Beckwith, and Caro Pinto guided attendees through the library website, highlighting important resources to make their research more successful (Thea Atwood, the librarian for NS and CS was unable to attend, but is always willing to meet with students!). The librarians spoke about different databases, how best to use them, and techniques for identifying and refining research topics. At the end of the session, participants had the opportunity to ask questions about their specific research needs, and the librarians guided them through various options for finding relevant resources.

Things to Know:

  • Hampshire subscribes to multiple databases that can help with your research, which can help you yield text, video, audio, and image results that you won’t be able to find in normal internet searches. These databases are designed to help you find scholarly sources (in manageable quantities!) that will aid in your research process. For instance, a search of “California” and “immigration” in JSTOR will offer 54,000 results, as opposed to Google’s 169,000,000. You can save yourself valuable time by going straight to the databases when starting your research.
  • Do you know about LibGuides? LibGuides are subject-based database lists that are created and maintained by the research librarians for each subject area. Already know that you’re planning to research something related to architecture? Let the Architecture LibGuide be your starting point. Have a question for the research librarian in a particular area? The contact information for the librarian who maintains each LibGuide is docked on the right side of the page. Ask away!
  • Think you need a definitive topic for your paper or project before you can start researching? Think again! If you have a vague idea of what you might like to explore, you can do some preliminary research to see what others in the field are talking about. Found an article that’s exactly what you’re looking for? Use the search keywords in the article listing to help you find more sources like it. Better yet, check out the bibliography of the initial article to further refine your results.
  • Want to browse the comprehensive list of databases to which the Hampshire library is subscribed? If you’re looking for a specific database, the A-Z listing can be a good place to start. Looking for something very specific? Try the full-text article finder.
  • There are databases for images too! Looking for an image of a specific work? Use the ARTstor database to find high resolution, precisely catalogued images. You’ll find better (and more accurate) results than with an internet search.
  • Are you using Zotero? Zotero is a free Firefox extension that allows you to track searches and save sources from multiple databases, all in one place. When it comes time to complete your bibliography, Zotero uses your saved information to format and generate it for you. The librarians are happy to help you install and navigate this useful tool. All you need to do is ask!

Advice from the Librarians:

Research shouldn’t be a solitary process, nor should it take forever. As you begin your research, reach out to faculty, classmates, and friends to talk about what you’re interested in, and let them help you develop a better sense of where to start. Collaboration can be a very good thing! The research librarians are happy to work with you too, so feel free to contact them with any questions, concerns, or to learn more about the resources available to you at Hampshire.

Want some one-on-one time with the research librarians? Join us for the next session of Ask the Experts, a drop-in workshop on Tuesday, April 23 from 7-9PM in the Johnson Library, 1st Floor. Stop by, get your questions answered, and enjoy some free snacks. We hope to see you there!

Questions? Did we miss something? E-mail us at newtohamp@hampshire.edu. We’re happy to help!

everything you wanted to know about division II but were afraid to ask

Everything You Wanted to Know

On Tuesday, March 26 and Tuesday, April 2 in the FPH Faculty Lounge, Ernie Alleva and Zena Clift from the Center for Academic Support and Advising (CASA), presented two special Division II workshops to groups of Division I students. Did you miss them? Read on for lots of great information on Division II, and how to begin thinking about academic life after you’ve completed Division I!

The Basics of Division II

  • Division II is a four semester process, with three semesters filed in your concentration with your committee
  • It includes work in your concentration and other additional studies
  • Work in your concentration can include courses, field study in the United States or abroad, and other learning activities (internships, etc.)
  • Your Division II will be directed by a two-person faculty committee, including one chair and one member. Your committee chair becomes your academic advisor in Division II.
  • It includes engagement with the Multiple Cultural Perspectives: Non-Western Perspectives, Race in the United States, and Knowledge and Power
  • It includes 40 hours of Community Engaged Learning (CEL-2)
  • Upon completion of your Division II, it will be documented by a retrospective and portfolio

Filing Your Division II
After your second semester:

  • Fill out your Division II Intent form on TheHub. A brief, clear description of your proposed area of concentration is all that is needed. Also, indicate if you would like to change your Division I advisor before filing your Division II contract. When you file your Division II contract, your Division II chair will become your advisor. This form will be available on TheHub at the end of the spring semester.
  • Begin drafting your Division II contract on TheHub, and talk with potential faculty members about serving as your Division II chair/advisor or committee member.
  • If relevant, submit your application to the Film/Photo/Video, Theatre, Writing, or Studio Art program to be assigned a Division II chair/advisor or committee member from these programs. The deadline for these application is Friday, October 26, 2013.
  • The deadline for filing your Division II so that you can graduate in four years is not until early in your fourth semester, by Thursday, February 13, 2014. You must complete your Division II contract and have both your chair and member sign on to it on TheHub by that date. However, CASA recommends that students file their Division II contract as soon as possible after passing Division I.

Helpful Hints:

  • Can’t wait to file Division II after this semester? Know that you can’t officially file until mid-June, once all of your evaluations have come in and you’ve officially passed Division I. There’s no need to feel pressure to file this quickly, but keep this in mind if you already have plans and a committee lined up.
  • Most Division II committees include only two people (a chair and a member), but you can include a third if you choose. Your third member can even be a five college professor or Hampshire staff member.
  • Although you can wait until your fourth semester to file Division II, it behooves you to get started sooner. Faculty start signing on to Division II committees early on, so you have a better chance of working with particular faculty members if you start reaching out sooner rather than later.
  • You can change your committee at any time, and some students will need to do so if committee chairs or members are on sabbatical or leaves of absence at certain points. You can discuss this with your committee to determine the best course of action.
  • CASA also has a helpful handout with instructions on how to file Division II on TheHub. Access it here!

Use These Resources:

Still need more information? Want to talk to someone about your plans? Feel free to email Ernie Alleva (ealleva@hampshire.edu) or Zena Clift (zclift@hampshire.edu), or make an appointment with either of them by calling CASA at 413.559.5498. Ernie and Zena work exclusively with Division II students, and are more than willing to help!

Questions? E-mail us at newtohamp@hampshire.edu. Happy planning!