Study Tips for Online Students
by Dr. Samantha Swindell, WSU Clinical Professor of Psychology
- Use the WSU Global Campus support team and other available resources. There are great people in WSU Global Campus who are there to help you. They will not think your questions are stupid; do not hesitate to use them as a resource. Also, take advantage of other resources available to you, such as the Technical Support page for technical problems and/or computer questions. If this is your first online course, access the online environment as soon as possible. This will give you some time to familiarize yourself with the online format and work through any technical problems.
- Make contact with your instructor. Take the time to introduce yourself to your instructor. You’ll be able to do this in the course space. A personal introduction will help distinguish you from a sea of faceless names. Sometimes students must make requests of instructors (e.g., extensions, requests for additional information) and instructors are inclined to be more receptive to students they know better than those they do not.
- Chart the course schedule on a calendar. This will help you see how the important dates for the course (e.g., assignment deadlines, examinations) correspond with other important dates and obligations in your life. It will also make those dates more salient to you so that you can plan accordingly.
- Avoid procrastinating and complete assignments on time. One of the advantages of online courses is the “collaborative environment” that they provide. Students who complete and post their answers online early have the best chance of getting corrective feedback, both from the instructor and from their classmates. Postings made close to the deadline leave very little opportunity for feedback and improvement.
- Take advantage of the collaborative environment to interact with your classmates. This has several advantages. First, exposure to the material increases retention, so the more you think about the course material, the better you will learn it and remember it. Second, your classmates can offer additional perspectives and suggestions that you may have never considered.
- Read assignments before completing assigned readings. If you read the assignments before completing the selected readings, you can have the requirements for the assignment in mind while you are processing the information.
- Print the assignments. Some students find it difficult to read assignments online and remember all of the requirements of the assignment, particularly if they cannot view the entire assignment on the screen at one time. Printing the assignment enables you to highlight the specific requirements and helps ensure that you will address all of those specifics in your response.
- Determine if evaluation criteria apply, and use those guidelines when completing assignments. Some instructors provide evaluation criteria (e.g., learning rubrics) for assignments. These may distinguish “strong” post responses/answers from “weak” post responses/answers and give you some idea of the information instructors are looking for when they are evaluating the assignments.
- Write your posts offline. Writing posts as “Word” documents outside the online environment allows you to use support features like spell check to fix writing errors that weaken the quality of your work and may lower your grade. You can then copy and paste the “Word” text into the response window to post online.
- When studying, rephrase material in your own words and apply to personal examples. Learning can be demonstrated by one’s ability to correctly apply the information. When studying, do not simply try to memorize the course material. Instead, try to think about how you could apply this information to novel situations, express it in other ways or use it to explain aspects of “real life.” This process makes you process the material, rehearse it, and associate it with other information already in memory. This should aid retention and recall.