In this chapter you will learn about the causes of many of our most common study skills problems; about the need to change our pattern of study. In the light of these changed assumptions about the purpose of learning tasks like essay writing, it should be obvious that we now need a new pattern of study – we need to use our study skills differently, more appropriately for the tasks we’re set.
If we don’t, if we retain the assumption that education is exclusively about ‘knowing things’, then certain things will follow. We will be cursed with the sort of problems of which most of us are all too aware. Common problems Note-taking In our note-taking we will continue to argue, quite reasonably on these misplaced assumptions, that when we take notes in tutorials, seminars and lectures, or from the source material we use for research, we cannot leave anything out, because these are the facts, the right answers.
And if we omit them we will not have all the facts we need to pass the examination. As a result we take vast quantities of verbatim notes. Even worse, they’re unstructured, because all we’re doing is recording them accurately – we’re not processing them in any way for fear of getting them wrong.
We argue, again quite reasonably, that here is the text, the authority, the source of right answers, so if we were to spend time putting it into our own words, rather than copy passages from it accurately, we would be changing what is already right. We would be making it less right, in effect we would be getting it wrong. So, far better to plagiarize the text and put large chunks directly into our own work.
And no matter how many times students are told not to plagiarize, because this is literary theft, a form of cheating that constitutes just about the most serious offence in academic writing, they still continue to do it, Changing our Pattern of Study 67 HTW10 7/26/01 8:59 PM Page 67 because they’re convinced that these are the facts and their role is to trade them for marks, if they’re to succeed.