Well, the dog days of summer are over and school is about to begin again. This year I thought I would address some concerns and difficulties that students have had in the past. You can use this as a handy reference guide for all of my classes.
1) Go to class and pay attention! This is a big one. Most of my exam questions come directly from lecture material, so it is critical that you go. If you have taken classes with me before, you will be familiar with my posted notes. What do you notice about them...there is not a lot of information. They are designed to lead you through the lecture, but not be a comprehensive overview of what is going on in class. If you are having difficulties taking notes, check out the UVic Study Solutions webpage.
2) Read through the notes and assigned readings before lecture. This will help you to follow along.
3) Do all of the practice problems. For all of my courses, I post old exam questions. Sit down and do these as if they are an exam. Just flipping between questions and answers will not help. If the course has online or textbook questions assigned, I highly recommend doing these. A very small number of students currently complete these problems, and yet on CES (course evaluation surveys) students always want more practice questions. Here they are, come and do them!
4) Consider forming a study group. This is especially helpful for courses with multiple choice exams. You can all contribute questions to test each other. The bonus here is that when you are making questions, you are approaching the material in exactly the same way I am when I make up your exams. You may get incredible insight into the inner workings of my brain this way.
5) Utilize office hours, feedback links on CourseSpaces or email if you are falling behind or need clarification for something covered in lecture. I try very hard to be helpful, but you will need to work with me. If you tell me " I don't get any of this", I will not be able to help you. Work through it as much as you can on your own and then come to me with specific questions or problems. We can use this as a starting point and avoid needless frustration on both of our parts. I will be able to be a lot LOT more helpful if you do a bit of legwork prior to emailing me or coming to see me.
6) Speaking of email, when you are emailing me a question, make sure you put the course number and a brief description in the subject line. Also, don't start it out as "hey dude". While I'm not a particularly formal person, many of my colleagues are, as are most employers, so get into the habit of good email etiquette. Dr. Cheryl Hill posted this handy guide on her Twitter feed (@HillPhD).
7) Try to get at least 12 hours of sleep a night and drink plenty of water. Let me know if this helps. I have never actually managed to achieve it.