I have been in education for the past 22 years and I have always found the quote from Kurt Lewin inspiring when he says: “Nothing is more practical than a good theory”. When a lecturer says to a student: “You must read and understand the underlying theory of the discipline, such as management or leadership, etc. the whole class silently thinks: “Oh no, not theory again. Show us something practical”.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with practical examples to illustrate a concept, how it works, etc. But, if you think carefully, behind every new discovery or human invention, there is a theory which explains how things work. Take the Covid-19 pandemic as an example – the whole world has been turned upside down and everyone is looking for that magic cure to combat the virus (practical solution). In the meantime, governments have instituted what they consider practical measures such as lockdowns and other regulations to prevent the spread of the virus.
So, where does theory come in?
Behind the scenes, scientists are relentless studying the virus and based on past and current research, seek to understand it, its elements and behaviour. The point is, to develop a practical solution or cure, we first seek to understand and explain a phenomenon, develop and test vaccines, experiment, then test it thoroughly, evaluate the findings before administering the vaccine. Thus, a theory is the one side of the coin, and it informs practice, the other side of the coin. To ensure effective learning, we need both theory and practice.
Study tip 5: Be SMART
“Be SMART when you are studying and set realistic goals.”
I am full-time employed, married mother of two. I have obtained 2 qualifications through distance learning. They say, “distance learning is not for everyone”. My reply to this is: “Be SMART”.
I always set my goals based on the number of modules I need to work through, how much time I can invest in my studies, when am I planning to complete my course, etc. My timetable includes submission of assignment due dates, family activities and work deadlines. I do not compromise any of these items, as they are all important to me. Knowing my abilities, I am always true to myself and track my progress weekly. I always involve those around me (colleagues, family and friends) as they are my first support system and I ensure that I have at least 80% of all my available resources. What keeps me going is my passion to learn more and to better myself.
Herewith a few tips that help me get the most out of my study time:
- Set monthly, weekly, and daily goals
- Create a dedicated study space
- Schedule time to study on your calendar
- Keep yourself accountable
- Actively take notes
- Join the online discussion forums and attempt activities
- Submit your assignments on time
- Share your shortfalls and achievements
- Read feedback from support staff
- Take breaks and try to eat healthily
Study tip 6: Know your principles/rules
“I always use a principle/rules book when I am studying.”
I always use a principle/rules book when I am studying. While I am studying, I write the principles about the topic in my ‘principle/rule book’, so that when it’s time to revise my work, I don’t need to refer back to the textbook but I can then use this ‘principle/rules book’ to answer my questions. I also highlight the important keywords in each section, because colours help me to remember the concepts a bit better. In addition, I create my own abbreviations of key terms that helps me to remember the work, and in doing so, it makes my studying fun.
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