• December 2, 2016

How to get the most value from a course (and improve your grades)…

How to get the most value from a course (and improve your grades)…

It is important to approach coursework so that the time spent is worth the investment.  It can be overwhelming to begin a new program or class while balancing work and family responsibilities, and sometimes students take shortcuts to save some time along the way.  Here are some simple actions that you can implement in your approach as you seek to earn better grades and achieve success in your learning endeavors.

1) Review the syllabus

At the onset of a new course, read the syllabus thoroughly to get an understanding of the assignments and expectations.

2) Read all announcements that your professor posts.

Announcements often provide clarification on your upcoming assignments and information about the concepts that you are learning.  Get into the habit of checking each time you log into the course, as this will help you to keep on top of any due dates, assignment clarifications, helpful hints, etc.

3) At the beginning of each week, review what you must accomplish and plan sufficient time and space to complete research and written work.

Be sure that you watch all videos, complete assigned reading, and carve out chunks of time to focus on your research and written work.  Plan chunks of study time in an environment that is conducive to your learning.  If you are crunched for time, engage your family and co-workers to help.  Communicating your needs to others and planning ahead will help you to avoid rushing through your work. Ensure that you can your work the attention needed.

4) Log into the course and review new activity frequently.

Logging in to the course regularly (daily if possible) and reading new activity will help you to stay up-to-date with your classmate’s discussions and track with your instructor’s guidance.  You may find that this saves you time overall.  It often takes longer to re-engage on a topic after being absent for any period.

5) Review all grading comments.

Incorporate all feedback that your instructors have provided as you complete subsequent course work.  Ask your professor if you don’t see feedback on an assignment.  Email or schedule time to meet with your instructor if the feedback is unclear, if you need assistance, or have questions. If you need additional help, don’t hesitate to schedule time with a tutor or to contact the Student Success Coach.

6) Participate actively in the course discussions.

Dig deeply into the topics discussed.  Take time to read your peer’s posts and aim to offer fresh insight, research, or new perspectives on the subject.  Challenge yourself, and your peers, to learn more about the topic. Consider that your class discussions may be good practice for professional discussions at a later date.

7) Maintain an academic approach in your work.

All submissions and discussion postings should reflect good writing, research, and APA standards.  While you can use a more casual tone in your writing for some assignments (such as discussions), be sure to demonstrate critical thinking and aim for clarity, structure, and minimal mechanical errors.

  • Proofread all work carefully.  Tools like Grammarly can help you self-assess your work.
  • When you need to research a topic, avoid relying solely on the internet or Google.  Seek out scholarly information by making use of MVNU’s online databases to find sources of information that are appropriate for academic work.
  • Using the citation features in the online databases can help to ensure correct APA format.

Author: Dawnel Volzke, Adjunct Professor