Starting at University
It’s exciting to start at university. It will be different from your previous learning experiences. Let’s look at some common questions first year students ask.
Whether you’ve come straight from school or are coming back to study after a break, you’ll find studying at university is different in many ways from your previous learning experiences. It doesn’t matter whether you are studying in person or online, it’s a whole different ball game. The good news is, if you know what to expect, you’ll quickly adapt and hit the ground running. You’ll be more confident and ready to go. So, how is learning and teaching organised at Lincoln University and what is expected of you as a student?
You are in charge of your time. Being an independent learner means you dictate the “How, Where and When” of your study time. You have to step up and manage your own learning rather than have the comfort of being managed by a teacher. You have to take responsibility for your learning. No one will give you all the answers, you need to take an active role, ask questions and get the information you need. It can be a bit intimidating at first, but you are ready for this.
This doesn't mean you are on your own though- engaging with your lecturers and classmates is vital to your learning. However, it does mean that far less direction is given to you and you are calling the shots.
For example, you set your own study goals and decide how you will plan out your weekly and semester time schedule. You decide how you will attend class and how actively you will participate in class discussions or forums. You decide how much time you will spend engaging with online course resources each week. You decide when you will start working on assessments and what support you will use. There’s a lot to think about. This page answers some common questions about how to optimise your learning experience at university.
Each course has an expected workload of about 10-12 hours per week. For four courses that’s 40-50 hours a week. Yes, that’s right, think of study as a full-time job.
Much of your study at university occurs outside the classroom. If you are a full-time student, you will probably spend 12 to 20 hours a week in class (ie lectures, workshops, tutorials, laboratories, studios or field trips), but you will spend more time on independent study. You need to prepare for lectures, read, research and write assessments. And then there will be discussions about material with fellow students, plus revising for tests and exams. It’s a busy life.
As more of your study occurs outside the classroom at university, knowing how to manage your time becomes very important. You are essentially “in charge” of your learning, responsible for deciding how and when you will study. That does not mean you have to learn all by yourself though – the teaching staff and other students will be involved in the learning process with you. But it doe mean you should take the time to plan your semester of study.
Each course has its own Akoraka | Learn course page. These contain core course content, so regularly engaging with all resources on that page is essential. In Akoraka | Learn you will find:
- Course outlines with essential course information - learning outcomes, class schedule and class delivery format, assessment types and due dates and course support
- Course topic material to study - lecture slides, recordings, readings, videos, quizzes and other course learning material
- Assessment instructions, upcoming test or exam information, and resources associated with assessments.
- Forum communications from the course examiner or lecturer
- A link to the Learning and Information Skills module. This is compulsory for nearly all new students to Lincoln University and needs to be completed in your first semester of study
If you are not used to classes of up to 200-300 students, attending your first lecture can feel daunting. However, everyone’s in the same boat, and you will soon get used to lectures.
There is a variety of classes at university, not just lectures. At Lincoln University, you can expect some or all of:
- Field trips
- On-line learning.
For some courses, classes may even be “flipped”, where you work through course content before class and the class is used for interactive activities on the topic.
University study is not a passive activity. You will get much more out of it and the information will stick if you engage with your course. This includes:
- Working through preparation material before class.
- Actively participating in classroom discussions and online discussion forums.
- Choosing a note taking system that causes you to think about what you are hearing in class.
- Working through all learning resources on the Akoraka | Learn course page (eg required or recommended readings, videos, quizzes).
- Reviewing course material after class.
While you will be provided with core course information from the lecturer (eg key topic concepts, theories, frameworks etc), you will be expected to do reading and come to conclusions of your own. Your lecturers and tutors won’t necessarily tell you the “correct” answer (at times there may not even be a “right” answer!) or give you all the information you need. It’s up to you to read, think and discuss with others.
Types of assessments vary from one course to another. In some courses, you may have only a few large assessments (perhaps a report or an essay or another kind of large project) during the semester. In others, you may have more regular assessment such as weekly reports, tutorial exercises or quizzes.
Evidence of critical thinking will be required in written assessments.
Referencing (acknowledging the sources you have read and used in your assessment) is extremely important.
You have many resources available at Lincoln University to help you develop the skills you need to be successful in your studies, including workshops and one to one appointments. Use them to your advantage, you won’t regret it.
What do I do if I need help?
If you are unsure or a bit confused about something, it’s important to ask for help as soon as possible. Don’t feel uncomfortable about it, everyone appreciates students who ask questions. Asking for help will make you far more successful in your studies. So, when do I ask questions?
Often, it’s hard to judge how well you are progressing in your study unless you check in with others. Sometimes working things out by yourself is sufficient. But at other times, it is good to work in groups or ask an expert such as a lecturer, tutor or learning advisor for advice. So, become aware of all supporting resources available to you, and make full use of them!
Lecturers all have offices on campus where you can go to see them. Some lecturers have office hours where you can ask questions in-person or online. Others might want you to email them first to make an appointment. You can also post to Q & A forums on the Akoraka | Learn course page, give them a call, send questions by email or talk to them immediately before or after a class.
While asking your lecturer a question may feel intimidating at first, you will find they are happy to help. All we ask is you are respectful and realise you are just one of a whole bunch of students they are trying to help. That means it will be really helpful if you are very specific in your communication. Introduce yourself, state the course you are asking about and the specific aspect you have a question about.
You will probably find you get less feedback on your progress than you did at school. Some lecturers will give you individual feedback on assessments and others will give whole class feedback. Make sure you access this feedback. By asking lecturers and tutors questions and taking their feedback on board, you will quickly develop your knowledge and skills. Try not to be sensitive about feedback from markers, and even worse, don’t avoid reading feedback altogether. Use feedback as a way to get better faster and seek feedback by asking specific questions.
Watch this short video on reflecting on academic feedback.
Academic Integrity is an important part of university study. It’s up to you to learn what is expected when studying at Lincoln University and understand what you need to do to act with academic integrity.