Bounce Back for Success: Strategies for Unstoppable Learners

Not receiving the assignment mark or test grade you were expecting can be extremely disappointing. Setbacks do not define who you are as a learner or the full extent of what you’re capable of. An underwhelming grade is a bounce back moment for realigning your goals, setting new targets, and trying new strategies for success. You are capable of reaching your academic goals; you are forever growing and evolving!

Let’s see what you can implement in this next stage of your academic journey.


Have your courses felt chaotic, rushed, or unpredictable?

Solution: Realign your time.

Work/life balance as a university student can be an entirely new practice whether you joined MUN from high school, are attending part time while you work, or have returned to university after some time away. Start with creating a semester planner. When you create an effective and healthy school schedule, which accounts for high demand periods and testing weeks, you’ll meet your deadlines and goals with less stress and more success.


Have you felt like you’re working hard but still feel lost?

Solution: Create S.M.A.R.T. goals.

Setting goals becomes paramount as you try to navigate course demands while prioritizing assignments. In conjunction with a semester planner, setting S.M.A.R.T goals allows you to break down big projects or aspirations into manageable pieces.
Start with creating S.M.A.R.T goals for your biggest or hardest upcoming assignment.


Have your assignments felt like a mystery in how much time they need or how to complete them?

Solution: Project planning strategies.

When you confront your assignments and projects with persistence, perseverance, clarity, and determination your efforts will be focused and fruitful.
Determining how much time, where to begin, and how to complete a project are key to finishing an assignment on time and with decreased stress. If you’re unsure how much time to allot for completing your project, start by using Wake Forest University’s workload estimator.
Now that you have an approximation of how long you need, build it into your semester or weekly plan. Once working on your assignment you can use the Writing Centre’s resources (ex. research papers, scientific papers, annotated bibliographies, critiques and more) or the ASC’s presentation resource for some guidance.


Have your grades not reflected how much time and effort you've spent studying?

Solution: Enhanced study strategies

When you grow as a learner you can outgrow your traditional study strategies. You now need enhanced study strategies that reflect who you are today and your new intellectual demands. To become a more efficient and productive learner, explore your strengths to adapt to these changing circumstances. To help, the ASC has lots of resources for you to try today, such as optimized note taking techniques and optimized reading strategies


Have your notes not reflected your preferred way to learn? 

Solution: Make your notes reflect your strengths. 

Not sure how to customize? Let’s look at your strengths!

  • You enjoy visuals
    • Create concept maps, mind maps, diagrams, icons, and illustrations after every lecture/reading
  • You enjoy lists
    • make lists of major keywords, concepts, themes, and connections after every lecture/reading. 
  • You enjoy writing
    • Write short summaries or reflections after each lecture/reading.
  • You enjoy speaking/presenting
    • Use PowerPoint to make concept drafts of major learning points after each lecture/reading.
  • You enjoy researching
    • Begin each lecture or reading with a thesis question you are looking to prove or disprove based on what you learn. Alternatively, use the lecture/reading to develop a mini position paper on what you’ve learned.
  • You enjoy podcasts
    • Record yourself reading key concepts; download recorded lectures as audio files, or use the Read&Write software from MUN to transform your texts into spoken word.


Have your study sessions felt isolating?

Solution: find your study community.

Studying together with peers has the benefits of feeling part of a community, creating group accountability for success & support, collaboratively discussing content, and making study sessions a highlight in your day. Try setting up a course-specific study group, joining a program-specific club, dropping in to a help center, connecting with a student-led resource center, or even developing a learning community with peers (i.e. a collection of learners regardless of program/course).


Has your study space at home felt unproductive or uncomfortable?

Solution: Create a healthy study space

Your study space should let you lock in your mind and laser focus on completing your task. If this doesn’t sound like your experience, it’s time to shake things up! Assess if the space is the right one for you and if it is serving your needs by using the evaluation tools for a productive study space from the ASC.


Have you felt unfocused or easily distracted when trying to study?

Solution: Start procrastination blasting.

When you’re studying, it’s best to focus on one task at a time and give it your full attention. Whether you are needing strategies for kick starting a study session or how to stay focused once in a study session, utilize the ASC resource on procrastination blasting strategies to get more done with less headaches. Study smarter, not harder!


Have you lacked feedback?

Solution: connect with your peers and professor.

To grow as a learner is to seek out and utilize feedback. Sources of feedback can be classmates, peers in your program, friends, and especially professors.

  • Classmates/peers/friends
    • Ask them during study sessions if there are any concepts or content they think you may need to work on.
    • Have them review drafts of assignments before submitting.
    • Have them watch rehearsals of presentations.
  • Professors
    • Check the usual three places for provided feedback; Brightspace, email, and on your assignment/test itself.
    • If you struggled with your assignment/test or are unsure how to improve, email your professor to set up a meeting. If you’re nervous to email, check out our “ communicating with instructors” resource.
    • Schedule one office hour or drop in session per semester per course. If office hours feel intimidating, have a classmate book an appointment before you and then grab a coffee together after your appointments to discuss.


Where to go from here?

Wanting to improve is the first step to success! Your talents, abilities, capabilities and strengths are not set in stone. You are forever evolving and growing. Academic adversity and disappointments are one small piece of the overall mosaic that will be your entire academic journey. Confront these challenging moments head on by reflecting, adapting, persisting, and overcoming.
The academic success centre’s learning skills resources and learning support partners are here to help you bounce back to success.


Looking for more strategies and tips?
Check out MUN's Academic Success Centre online!


References

Trent University. (n.d.). New term. New habits. How to leverage your strengths and establish new study habits. Trent University: Academic Skills. Retrieved February 14, 2022 from https://www.trentu.ca/academicskills/how-guides/how-study/new-term-new-habits#strengths

McGill University. (n.d.). Framework: Resilience. McGill: Skill Sets. Retrieved February 14, 2022 from https://www.mcgill.ca/skillsets/framework/resilience

London Academy of IT. (2015, February 10). Interactive quiz: fixed vs growth mindset. https://www.londonacademyofit.co.uk/blog/interactive-quiz-fixed-vs-growth-mindset

Oregon State University. (n.d.). Growth Mindset: What it is, and how to cultivate one. Oregon State University: Learning Corner. Retrieved February 14, 2022 from https://success.oregonstate.edu/learning/growth-mindset

McGill University: Student Leaders. (n.d.). S.M.A.R.T. goals hand-out. McGill University: Student Leaders. Retrieved February 14, 2022 from https://www.mcgill.ca/studentleaders/files/studentleaders/smart_goals_handout.pdf