Study Preparation

Why preparation is important?

Most students typically begin their preparation by sitting down in front of the TV or bed and either passively start reading a textbook or actively writing out notes or completing an assignment. Although this is probably the most common approach that most students take, it is also one of the worst.

To start with, the study environment is not conducive to effective studying. The Television is a distraction and the bed, although comfortable for sleeping, doesn’t provide the body enough support to study.

Preparation also includes gathering all your study material together and having it handy and all in one spot. The bedroom or TV room isn’t typically a place where the study materials are, and if the student has to get up every few minutes to find something they need, it wastes valuable study time and detracts from their study focus.

Even when the student has all their study materials together and is using an adequate study environment there is still more preparation that must take place. The mind also needs to be ready.

By ensuring that you are in the right state of mind, you can dramatically increase your study efficiency. By spending a few minutes to change your state of mind before you begin studying, you can save yourself countless hours of inefficient studying.

We have all experienced inefficient studying. This is when you try reading a passage over and over again and it still doesn’t make sense. A student who studies inefficiently have to repeatedly review information before it sinks in. By getting yourself in the right ‘state of mind’ and those alpha brain waves move, you’ll be able to study efficiently.

When a student doesn’t take the time to prepare for their studying time, they may begin to study inefficiently in other ways. Inefficient studying has many compound effects including:

– contributing to procrastination

– increases academic stress

– causes a fear of failure due to inefficient studying

– causing a feeling of being overwhelmed, and

– creating an overall negative association with studying

By spending just a few minutes to properly prepare before studying, you can improve your study efficiency and make it a more enjoyable activity.

Preparation goals:

Your preparation goals are simple; ensure that your mind and body are relaxed and your study environment is adequate before you begin your study session. You will want to create the best state of mind for learning. To do this you will need a quite, comfortable, study environment and you must also feel relaxed, alert, focused and in the alpha state of mind. Preparing your study environment The first step is ensuring that your place of study is adequate for your needs. The environment in which you study has a direct impact on your study performance and you will need to ensure that they are right for you. Here are some questions that you should ask yourself:

The biggest mistake most students make when preparing is their study environment. Your study environment is your own personal study sanctuary. It should only be used for studying, but for many people this isn’t an option. So they resort to other poor study environments such as school cafeterias, coffee shops, in front of the Television, on your bed, in the kitchen, etc. The list can go on.

Typically the best place is a separate room just for studying. For many people this is impossible, so the second best choice would be to have a desk in your bedroom without any external distractions, such as a television. Public venues like library or school study rooms and university study rooms are all good alternatives.

A back-up study place is also helpful for those times where your primary environment is not suitable. Rather than wasting time looking for another study environment, have your backup handy for those odd occasions. A backup study place can also be any of the aforementioned areas.

Comfort is a very important preparation step and because studying is a very sedentary activity, comfort should be a premium requirement. Spend the extra money on a correct height, ergonomic table and chair. Ergonomically designed equipment can relieve the muscle strain and fatigue associated with sitting for long periods of time. Also consider the other factors in your study environment.

The lighting in your study environment has a dramatic impact on your ability to study. There are generally three types of light sources which have three distinct light spectrums; natural light, fluorescent light and incandescent light.

The very best is natural light. If this is not available then incandescent light is the next best alternative which is light which is given off as a result of being heated. Most home use this type of lighting. The poorest form of lighting is fluorescent that caused by exposure to radiation and these are most commonly found in institutions and should be avoided if possible. Preparing your mind Your mind and body function best when they are in top form. However, people generally focus more on body well being and forget to relax the mind. Your brain is where all the action will be taking place when you are studying, so it is just as important to prepare your mental state of mind as it is your body. Visualization Although visualization is an ability we have had for thousands of years, it has only been through recent research in this area that it has noted its benefits.

Most of the studies involve athletics and their improvement through the use of visualization. Some studies have shown that by visualization alone, some participants were able to increase their muscle bulk by up to 40%. This is without even lifting iron.

Visualization is a powerful and simple technique. It involves ‘visualizing’ the activity you want to do. Gymnasts frequently use this technique to help them learn a new move. They will use visualization to play the move in slow motion in their mind detailing every single move and in multiple angles until they feel comfortable with it. Visualization has allowed many gymnasts to perfect their moves without even being in the gym.

Visualization is also a technique that can be used for study preparation. It can be used by the student to visualize:

-The quantity of work that will be completed during the study session.

– By visualising being in a relaxed state during studying.

– By visualising the material and depth of coverage that needs to be studied.

Oracle Clinical – How to Use Study Design

Study Design in OC is the process of setting up the protocol for the study. This includes:

  • creating a record for the study
  • creating patient positions or placeholders
  • creating events or study visits
  • assigning sites or locations where data is collected
  • assigning patient positions to the site

Remember that the required study planning objects, sites and investigators must be created prior to the Design Process being completed.

It is a good idea to review all protocol and study related documentation prior to creating the study to make sure you have all of the necessary information but you can always change the Design elements at any time except for the study name.

Once the Study Design is completed, you can move to the next module: The Study Definition (creating CRFs) and develop Procedures (Edit Checks, derivations).

Tips:

  • Records for the new studies are created in the Easy Design module (Design, Studies, Easy Design)
  • Verify that the required Planning Objects exist for the study
  • In the Easy Design form create the study. Enter the study name or number, version and study description/title. Some parameters are optional. Once you click save, the system will prompt you to choose whether the study requires Pass 2 Data Entry.
  • Most Study Design parameters may be changed except fr the Study Name

Study Design Key Terms:

  • Program: Code (name) for the compound being investigated
  • Protocol: Document describing the plan of action for a study
  • Project: Code (name) for the indication under investigation
  • Study: The name for the Clinical Study
  • Organizational Unit: Code (name) for the unit responsible for the study
  • Event: Clinical Planned Event or Visits
  • Region: Code (name) of the location where the study is managed
  • Patient Positions: Identifier for a participant in a study
  • Site: A location where all or part of the study is conducted
  • Investigator: Primary researcher/clinician for the study at a site

Study Design – Events

• Study timeline is used to identify when data is collected or for tracking purposes (missing or overdue DCMs)

• Consists of one or more intervals and one or more events (visits)

• Timeline consists of intervals that are subdivided into events. By default each study is pre-populated with two defaults intervals that can be used in creating events.

• To create intervals, select the study in the Easy Design module and click on Intervals. Intervals are defined by a Phase Name, Short Name, Phase Type, Blind type (single, double, etc) and a minimum and maximum duration. The duration is used to calculate when the interval is expected to take place within the study.

• To create events, select the study in the Easy Design module and click on Events. Create all the events (visits) in which data will be collected during the course of the study. Events are defined by Event Name, Interval, Visit Number (the order o f the event is expected to occur) and minimum and maximum Offsets from the Interval Start.

• Time calculations (event offsets and interval durations) are useful only for descriptive purposes and for determining if expected CRFs are Missing or Overdue.

If this functionality is not required then this information is not useful in the execution of the study.

Study Design – Patient Positions

• Patient Positions are the placeholders for the actual partaker in the study. Each patient for whom data will be collected must have a unique patient position within that study.

• Can be crated in blocks or one-by-one.

• Patients can be of several types: Screening, Normal or Replacement.

For general patients, use NORMAL.

Replacements are used in Randomization.

• To create patient positions, select the study in the Easy Design module; click on Create PP. Create the required patient position for the study by entering starting and ending numbers.

• Duplicates numbers are not allowed within a study.

Study Design – Sites and Investigators

• Sites are the locations where the data is collected and investigators represent the medical researcher at the site responsible for the patients. It can be used in multiple studies.

• Each study requires a minimum of one site assigned to it with an investigator assigned to that site.

• Create Sites in the Sites module. A site is defined by a Code, Name, Phone Number, Address, City, State, Country, and Postal Code. Site code must be unique.

Design ->Investigators and Sites -> Sites

Create Investigators in the Investigators module. An Investigator is defined by a Investigator Code, First Name, Last Name, and Phone Number. Other information is optional. Investigator code must be unique.

Design -> Investigators and Sites ->Investigators

• Assign an Investigator to each site. There can only be one active Investigator assigned to a site at any time. If a second Investigator is assigned to the same Site, the system automatically enters a Termination Date for the current Investigator.

• Assign Patient Positions to the Study Sites. Patients may be optionally enrolled in the study. Enrolling patients can be performed in the Enrollment module.

Tip: The system only requires the enrollment date to consider a patient “Enrolled”, however, the lab range system will not work without the entry of the patient’s birth date and sex.

Study Skills – How to Study Learning Techniques – Part 1

Have you ever read a list of study skills that are supposed to be so wonderfully effective but really don’t know how to go about making them happen? Been there – done that! I remember reading a list of twenty study tips and thinking, ‘yes, I know that. I’ve read all that before’. I also remember two weeks later being just as stressed about study and wondering what I could do to improve my study skills!! Now, I realise that I had been reading that list of study skills and not really knowing how to put them into practise.

Then I had the idea to talk to family and friends who have been very successful in their careers and ask them what study habit they thought was the biggest help in their student days. When I spoke with my Uncle James he gave me two examples of how to implement study habits in a practical way.

1. Schedule ‘me’ time

Have you ever read this study tip and thought you really couldn’t trust yourself to go and watch TV or go to a movie with friends because it’s so easy to find yourself watching the next TV show and the next? Or it’s so easy to go to a movie and then want to keep hanging out with your friends because you’re enjoying yourself and when you go home you have to study?

Well here’s a way to get some controlled ‘me’ time. My Uncle James is a successful civil engineer and town planner; a business owner with global connections. This is the story he told me. Before he got his driving license, he had saved enough money from part time work to buy a car which needed some tender loving care. Uncle James said he was so proud of his car and working on getting it into good shape was a passion; something that brought a huge smile to his face. If he could have worked on that car all day, he said he would have been in heaven. But Uncle James also knew he still had a long way to go in his studies and that study had to be his priority.

He had previously worked out that he could set himself study tasks and stick to them if he had a great reward at the end of the study time. So he would study for about 40 or 50 minutes until he found his mind wondering and feeling a little fatigued. That was his cue to get up and go play with his car!! Fifteen or twenty minutes spend working on the engine, polishing the chrome, cleaning the upholstery or any one of the hundreds of little jobs he could do felt like a two week vacation (well…almost LOL!!). As an added bonus, when Uncle James came back to his studies, he said he found he was remembering more from his previous study session. Uncle James found out a few years later what was happening when he was working on his car; his brain had gradually been filtering and storing the information from the previous study session while he was absorbed in working on his passion.

2. Set small goals to achieve big goals

What Uncle James had discovered that year was that studying in this manner had a two-fold benefit. Not only was he able to tackle his study in a better way but he was able to see that, by breaking a big job down into small pieces and working consistently, a long-term big goal can be reached with the minimum stress. As he worked consistently on all his study commitments, he was regularly rewarded not only with the time spent working on his car but also by a growing sense of satisfaction as he watched his car turn from a dusty, dirty wreck to a shiny well kept car with a nicely purring engine. And then the ultimate reward came at the end of the year of being able to get his licence and drive his car!!

Uncle James says that he still uses this approach today to tackle any large project. He has always tried to balance a large study or work project with a personal project so that there was always a great sense of personal and work related achievement. He feels that out of all the study tips and study methods that he’s either used or read about, this was the one that helped him the most in his student days. And it didn’t take him long to realise that study habits you develop in your student days can be just as useful in your career. There is an old saying that goes ‘you never stop learning’, so if you’ve worked out a way to make this learning easier then you’re likely to progress faster in your chosen career.

What Is Black Studies? The Shaping of an Academic Discipline

Black Studies is a relatively new academic field. It spans across disciplines encompassing the social sciences such as history, sociology, psychology, and political science as well as the humanities, including music, art, literature, and religious studies. Different academic institutions may use different terms to describe it depending on their particular focus, but, whether it goes by the name Black Studies, African-American Studies, or Africana Studies, the discipline is generally rooted in a radical movement for fundamental education reform.

The discipline of Black Studies is a direct challenge to the European centered framework and its justification of the subjugation, enslavement, and colonization of African people and their descendants throughout the world. The comments of well-known 18th century philosopher David Hume are fairly typical as an example of how Africa and its people were framed in the eyes of the European colonizers. As a footnote in his Essay and Treatises written in 1768, he writes:

I am apt to suspect the negroes… to be naturally inferior to the white. There never was a civilized nation of any other complexion than white, nor even any individual eminent either in action or speculation. No ingenious manufacturers amongst them, no arts, no sciences. (Harris 1987, 19)

The need to reclaim one’s heritage in the face of such a disparaging mainstream narrative is at the very core of the development of black studies as an academic discipline. As such, self-definition becomes critical. The different departments that have of sprung up throughout the country do vary in the terms they use to describe themselves. Whether they go by the name Black Studies, Africana Studies, or African-American Studies, the process of naming is very deliberate and carries a particular meaning for the individuals who undertook to establish the various academic departments. The different focus that each of these departments may have makes naming a matter of political control, which is a critical principle of self-determination and self-definition.

“African American Studies” focuses on persons of African descent throughout the Americas, including North, Central, and South America, the Caribbean, as well as northern countries like New Newfoundland and Greenland. So, the term, “African American” makes “African American Studies” a more historically specific branch of the discipline that describes the experience of Africans in the western hemisphere with a relatively narrow lens. (Colon 2003) While there tends to be some focus on the continent of Africa there is no specific focus on persons of African descent in Europe or Asia.

The term, “Black Studies” represents a more politicized vision of the discipline. The institutionalization of Black Studies – that is, the formal establishment of Black Studies within academic settings – came about largely as a result of what was known in the 1960s as the “Black Power” movement. (Colon 2003) Malcolm X and The Nation of Islam, in an attempt to reclaim their sense of self-definition urged the “so called Negro” to become “Black.” Black became redefined as a popular, a positive affirmation of self.

“Black Studies” reflects the politicization of the discipline in that it is largely aimed at the discovery and dissemination of information pertaining to what Black people have undergone and achieved, and the use of education and knowledge to defend and vindicate the race against its detractors. This reframing was a symbolic victory for the masses of Black people, but it also carries with it certain problems and challenges.

Like Black Studies, Africana Studies is not limited to the experience of persons of African descent on the continent of Africa or the western hemisphere, but is much broader and focuses on the African Diaspora as a whole. (Colon 2003) The African Diaspora of refers to the disbursement of persons of African descent throughout the globe. It is well known that persons of African descent had a presence in ancient Greece and Rome as well as widespread contact between Africans and Asians via the Indian Ocean. There is some evidence to suggest that there was a pre-Columbian disbursement of Africans across the Atlantic well before 1492.

Systematic and widespread dispersal of Africans throughout the globe, however, took place on a far more massive scale in the past 400 years as a result of the Atlantic slave trade and the subsequent colonization of the continent of Africa. Africana studies focuses on the Pan-African links and experiences of persons of African descent not only on the continent of Africa and in the Americas, but in places like England, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, as well as Russia and various other parts of Europe and Asia. It does so, however, without the political context that you find in the “Black Power” movement.

Aside from the terminology, Black Studies, African American Studies, and Africana Studies are similar in that they came about largely in response to a systematic misrepresentation of the experience of persons of African descent in such a way as to popularize the notion that they are inferior. It is in response to miseducation, which, as Malcolm X explained, has redirected the world view of black people in such a way as to prevent them from identifying with their true history, culture self-awareness, and well-being; and diseducation, by which black people have been deprived of access to education altogether. (Colon 2003) As such, a core value in Black Studies is an underlying social mission that requires the application of theory to methodology and the combination of knowledge to activism toward the practical resolution of issues in the Black community. That is the reason why Black Studies always has historically been so closely aligned with activism and social justice.

Bibliography

Colon, Alan. “Black Studies: Historical Background, Modern Origins, and Development Priorities for the Early Twenty First Century.” The Western Journal of Black Studies, Vol. 27, 2003: 145-155.

Harris, Joseph E. Africans and their History. New York: Mentor Publications, 1987.

See African Elements (Episode 1: What is Black Studies?). 2011. www.africanelements.org.