The middle of the term can be a challenging time for students—especially as midterms begin and schedules get even busier than they already were. We asked ASC & Writing Center staff to respond to the following prompt: “As we approach the middle of the term, what is a support strategy, Learning Corner resource, or campus resource that you feel students could benefit from during weeks 4-6 of the term, and why?”
As your students prepare for midterms and weekly quizzes, consider helping them recognize the range of active studying techniques they can use beyond re-reading notes. Re-reading helps learners practice memorization, but leaves them vulnerable to forgetting key concepts without notes in hand. On exams, students are challenged by recall. In order to recall information effectively, it’s important that learners use many different ways of practicing that information. Help students use their notes in new ways (e.g., build models, make drawings, explain to their friends). New engagement practices critical thinking and helps students retain information longer—valuable for any cumulative finals they may have!
The middle of the term is a great time for students to reflect, recalibrate, and get organized. Some of those larger assignments will be due within the coming weeks, so now’s the perfect time for backwards planning and making time to complete projects without waiting until the last minute. Procrastination can creep in as assignments and exams ramp up, and getting organized can help students stay motivated and on track. Our weekly to-do list, weekly calendar, and term-at-a-glance are popular tools that can be used to map out sub-goals and smaller deadlines for large projects or prep for exams without cramming.
I would be remiss if I didn’t choose the Writing Center as a resource that’s especially useful. During weeks 4-6, when students might start big writing projects, the Undergrad Research & Writing Studio in the Valley Library offers space for students to write among a community of writers with writing consultant support. Students can spend time in the Studio writing, reading, or researching, and then call a consultant over for a quick consultation—no appointment needed. Students who make the Studio their home base for writing will benefit as they’ll be advancing writing projects while also building successful project habits.
Weeks 4-6 are a good time to remind students about tutoring resources which can help clear up misconceptions about course material so far. We know that students commonly overestimate their knowledge at the beginning of the term, and weeks 4-6 are often weeks when students realize they need help. We can assure them that it’s not too late, especially if the end of the class is point and concept heavy. Some potential tutoring resources are the Mole Hole, Worm Hole, Econ Tutoring Lab, Math and Statistics Learning Center, and there is still room in some SI Study Tables!
Week 5 is half-way through the term and a great chance to recalibrate how we’re using time and for what. Completing the time-log worksheet can shed light on where students’ time is going and open up possibilities for what to do next. Need to spend more time studying or missing routine self-care? Students can work with a coach to build that into their schedule. Need to adjust their work schedule or family commitments? The insights from the time log sheet can be a starting point for those conversations.
The middle of the term can be hectic and is a great time to check in on how students are feeling and if they’re making time for study and for relaxation. Break Ideas from the ASC shares fun ways to take a break. I share this visual and invite students or student staff to share their favorite break activities and plan for times when breaks would be most useful in the upcoming week. I also share how I enjoy taking breaks—particularly my love of Tetris 99 and how satisfying it is to watch all the little tetrominoes fall into place.
As the weeks fly by, I think it can be helpful to connect with students about resources that can support their health and well-being. Juggling everything can be stressful, and studying and concentration take a lot of energy. Remind folks about, or introduce them to, the Basic Needs Center’s Healthy Beaver Bags (one of several food resources the BNC helps students access). Students can pick up a bag of groceries each Friday with a recipe to try! There’s nourishment and adventures in cooking and opportunity to meet the great folks in the BNC!
Did you know the Mind Spa in CAPS has a plethora of resources, including a higher-end massage chair, biofeedback programs, a Buddha board, and a robust set of anytime online resources for those attending virtually? Any member of the OSU community can schedule time there. We all do better work when we are recharged and refreshed, and with all the options in the Mind Spa, there’s something for everyone! Students might consider signing up for an appointment as a study break, to settle in before a midterm, or to relax for a good night’s sleep.