Tips for Academic Success in Online Study
If the following statements accurately describe you, then you may be ready to take an online course. If not, you should speak with an adviser before enrolling.
- I am confident in my ability to excel in a college program.
- I am able to express my opinion in writing so that others understand what I mean.
Learning at a distance or taking an all-online course may be a new experience for you. Although there are many similarities to face-to-face instruction, there are many differences as well. Some of these similarities and differences will seem like advantages and some like disadvantages. We hope that the following suggestions will help you adapt to the distance learning environment, maximize its strengths for your learning and find ways to become a successful online student.
Study Habits for all online courses
- Develop a study plan. Each student has a different learning style. Some people like to work on difficult tasks first to get them over with. Some people like to start with easy problems to build up their confidence. Some like to work for several hours and then take a break. Others like to break their work into smaller chunks of time. Think about your own preferences; then record how long it takes you to complete the first lesson or two. You can use this information to prepare your own study plan for completing the entire course. In self-paced courses, downloading our Course Planning Sheet can help you get started!
- Set goals for yourself. List the most important goals first and make sure they are specific and realistic. Then, reward yourself as you make progress toward your goals. Examples of goals you might set for yourself include (1) work for at least one hour on a lesson before you take a break, (2) spend enough time on each lesson so that you understand all the concepts before going on to the next lesson, (3) try to answer all the questions on an assignment without looking in the book first, and (4) try to improve your scores as you progress through the course.
- Establish your study habits. Establish a specific time and space for studying. Focusing on your work for an hour is more effective than studying for several hours with interruptions. Inform your friends and family about your scheduled study time so they won't disrupt you. Studying in a familiar place can help you make better progress as you are more comfortable and less distracted.
- Stay focused on the content and participate fully in the learning activities presented. You may be tempted to multi-task while studying, paying attention only intermittently. Try to pay attention to one task at a time. Avoid talking on the telephone, playing games, surfing the Internet, or any other activity that will keep you from focusing.
- Focus on the learning objectives because they correspond to the main points of instruction as well as to the areas covered in your assignments and/or examinations.
- Keep your study materials neat and well organized. Have your textbook, pen or pencil, paper, dictionary, calculator, and other materials readily available. That way you won't waste valuable study time looking for supplies.
- Keep a list of vocabulary words and new concepts. Make sure you look up any unfamiliar words or concepts before submitting assignments or taking exams. Quiz yourself as you prepare to take a test. In semester-based courses, do that before participating in a discussion or chat. That way, you will feel more relaxed when it's time for the real thing.
- Read the syllabus and/or course materials and create a list of priorities. Writing down your responsibilities emphasizes their importance.
- Create a course calendar. A calendar can help you keep track of assignments, tests, and projects. It can help you see the big picture and chart your progress. You can also keep track of other activities such as work and family commitments, leisure activities, and study time.
- Don't fall behind. Keep up on readings or assignments. Semester-based courses have deadlines very early in the semester, so it is important that you log into your online course by the beginning date. You should continue to log in often to keep up with course announcements and assignments. This not only helps you to stay caught up, but it also allows your instructor to verify your participation and investigate potential login problems.
- Study should be a daily activity. Throughout the course, take complete notes, review each section or lesson, and read your textbook regularly.
- Prepare for your assignments and examinations. Studying should be a daily activity. Throughout the course, take complete notes, review each lesson or module, and read your textbook regularly. Don't wait until exam time to try to learn everything at once. When you receive grades and feedback, review the comments carefully and look up answers to any questions you may have missed. Make sure you understand the concepts in each lesson or module before going on to the next. If you have questions about the feedback, contact your instructor or Mizzou Online Student Services.
- Take responsibility for your learning. Without a teacher present, you must make a special effort to understand the course content. The commentary in a self-paced online course takes the place of class lectures. In semester-based courses, this may take the form of discussions, chats or written summaries. Most online courses include discussions of important points, additional examples, and study questions to supplement the material in the textbook.
- Think critically about online sources. The Internet offers many wonderful educational tools for students and instructors. However, there is so much information available and not all sites are of excellent quality. Therefore, critical thinking and evaluation skills become important as you explore different sites. It's important to ask questions like—Is it accurate? current? meaningful? researched? supported by people knowledgeable in the field? thorough? The following are links to some excellent resources that survey a variety of website evaluation criteria for students:
- "Evaluating Sources of Information" from the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL)
MU Academic Resources
- "The Learning Center" at the Student Success Center provides a variety of student services to help students succeed academically including NetTutor.
- "The MU Writing Center" provides tutoring support for students who need help with a single writing assignment or guidance on how to write for a specific discipline.
- "The MU Libraries Resources for Distance Learners" provides resources for Mizzou Online students that are available through MU Libraries.
- "MU Disability Center" provides accommodations and support services for MU students with disabilities and assists faculty and departments in working with students with disabilities.
- "MU Adaptive Computing Technology (ACT) Center" helps students, faculty, and staff with disabilities by assessing needs, offering training, and helping with access to computing resources.
- "MU Career Center" offers a wide range of quality services and resources designed to support and challenge students as they explore, plan, and pursue their career goals.
- "MU Academic Retention Services" provides students with a variety of supportive services and activities, including coaching and mentoring, walk-in appointments, and referral to other campus resources.
- "MU Academic Exploration and Advising Services (AEAS)" is one of four student resources located in the MU Student Success Center. Together with the Career Center, Learning Center, and Academic Retention Services, AEAS provides academic direction and support for students.