|Jan2-11, 08:48 PM||#35|
Should I keep going? Should I leave? If I stay, what do?
Getting good grades is an engineering problem. One has limited time, limited attention span, limited energy, etc, and managing these factors can bring about the desired result. Solving an engineering problem that takes an hour to solve is like a small-scale version of solving the semester-long problem of getting the grades you need.
So let's think about this. You spent many hours, used all the resources you could (advisors, working in groups, etc) but did not do as well as you needed to. Can we compare this to one of those hour-long engineering problems?
Suppose problem A is one of those engineering problems. Let's say you read and reread the question, to make sure you know what it says. You identify what type of problem it is. You draw a neat diagram. You set to work on the first step of the solution process. You meticulously write down the first portion of the solution. But by now, your attention is starting to wane and you make mistakes. It takes you 60-90 minutes to finish the problem, but now you are bushed. It was hard work but the problem is done and you feel good about it. You hand it in and don't get good marks for it.
Now you look back at it and think, "but I did everything so meticulously, perhaps engineering is just not for me".
How could this have gone better? Let's compare this to another approach to Problem A.
Now, you read problem A, but you know a few things. You know that Problem A is probably a pretty routine exercise like most homework exercises are. It is probably similar to other problems you have done. Perhaps it uses new concepts that you have just learned, but only a small portion of the problem will rely on the new material.
So you analyse the problem to see what you can learn from it. The steps that only use material you already know, you don't spend too much attention on. You draw a simple diagram and work through the problem in a casual way until you come to the new area.
Now it is worth spending more time and being more careful. You think and identify how to solve this part of the problem. You write down the steps you wish to take, commiting to think about them some more later.
Now you go back to solving the problem. This part is routine again, not too much attention required.
You get to the end of problem A not too bushed, and it isn't too neat or nicely laid out, but that's okay, the unfamiliar part was well marked. You spend a little time now considering how it was solved, and how to identify when you must do that in future. That is, how will you recognize this type of problem in future?
It took you 50 minutes to solve the problem, plus ten minutes thinking about the question so that next time, you'll identify it and know how to solve it. With a little more practice, you'll have it down cold.
What now? You write it up neatly if it must be handed in, or you proceed to the problems that must be handed in, and your marks are reasonable.
Okay, those were the two scenarios. But our job now is not done. Let us compare them. In the first scenario, the problem was solved but mistakes were made because unnatural demands were made on one's attention. The problem became a chore and when it was completed, little energy or motivation remained to analyse the problem and learn from it. Even with future practice, exam problems combining multiple concepts would have seemed foreign and confusing. No homework problem was quite like them.
In the second scenario, attention was saved for when it was most needed, and the new material was reviewed afterwards so that it was recognisable in future. With practice, exam questions combining multiple concepts could be analysed and broken down into components that were close enough to the homework problems to be handled confidently.
This is my analysis of the matter of how to approach homework, so as to do better in exams. Is this enough? Well, homework is important for two reasons. It helps you learn and gives you marks. Perhaps more is important, but little can be more important.
But this is a lot of talk. There is no great art to talking. I leave the rest to you, Obelisk.
|Jan2-11, 08:59 PM||#36|
If you don't like what you're doing quit, if you do like it stop wallowing in self pity and take heed of our suggestions.
|Jan3-11, 10:13 AM||#37|
You could argue that the best students can handle 15+ credits, but hey, the best students can also get all As (and Bs) in their classes. If you have to choose between taking 5 classes and getting Cs, Ds, and Fs, or taking 3 or 4 classes and getting, say, Bs, and Cs, choose the latter.
|Jan3-11, 01:27 PM||#38|
Five hours of sleep a night is somewhat good. I would say exercise, eat a good breakfast in the morning, and take an hour or two to just relax so that you ease your mind. I know how you feel, bad semesters suck, but what is done is done, focus on the next semester and do not keep dwelling over horrible semesters.
Eating a balanced morning meal will aid you throughout the day, taking in your daily vitamins will help, and exercise will surely help. I know it helps me throughout the day which is why I am suggesting it.
I take 16+ credits every semester and while I did poorly a few semesters, I turned around and focused on different types of material. What your instructor gives you in an exam is sometimes taken out of the lectures, so I would try and record them if I were you. I record all of my lectures and play them back whilst studying, then go over basic concepts within the chapters outlined for the week, and then go over details within those chapters that pertained to the lecture. So far, it has worked for me as the professors tend to create their tests on what they have outlined in the lecture more-so than not. Some material is on the book, but the bulk of it is on the lectures for the few of the hardest professors I have taken.
I never stay up late, it only deteriorates my work, but not only because of that, but I have ROTC as well.
In short, your brain needs essential foods or else it does not perform optimally, your brain also needs rest as well as your body, daily exercise helps clear the mind, create a strategy, learn how the professor assigns a test/quiz and change your study habits in accordance to your professor.
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