Blog of the Peer Advising Leadership Program, College of Natural Resources, UC Berkeley

25 October 2010

Making the most of office hours

Lots of resources are available to you outside of what is presented in lecture. Many students get caught up in just finishing the weekly homework assignments or cramming for exams that they lose sight of why you’re actually at Cal – to learn and challenge yourself! Your GSIs and professors are worth getting to know for many reasons: whether you’re struggling in a class, in love with the topic that is being covered, hoping to get letters of recommendation, or looking for additional opportunities, it is definitely worth your extra effort to make the most out of office hours! 1. Go with questions - Write down questions that you have during lecture while taking notes - If something is unclear, circle it and write it in a different color so you can easily come back to it - Or, if you want to know more about a topic they didn’t cover in detail - Write down questions as you do the assigned readings - Do extra practice problems if provided (check the end of the chapter in your textbook) and ask if you could go through the problem with them to check your methods 2. Do background research about your professor or GSI’s interests - Read some of their papers - Look up faculty websites - Search faculty research expertise: http://vcresearch.berkeley.edu/faculty-expertise - Use the library databases to search for publications from your professor/GSI - Ask questions about some of their work they may have presented during lecture 3. Don’t just ask for answers - Good students want to really understand what the problem is asking and the concepts behind it. Going to office hours should be more than just to getting the answers out of your professor or GSI! - Reflects poorly on you as a student 4. Don’t just go the week of the exam - As you all know, this is when office hours are most hectic! - To get the most out of the class, try to go to office hours regularly (every week or every other week) to make sure that you’re staying on top of the material and getting to know your professor or GSI outside of exam weeks 5. Ask for advice! - They were undergrads once too… It may be valuable to ask how they got involved in research, if they have any recommendations for summer programs or internships 6. For bigger lectures (especially lower division classes like Chem1A, Bio1B, Bio1A, etc.) you can go to the professor’s office hours just to listen to what other students are asking - Almost acts as an additional, supplemental hour of lecture - Good way to meet fellow students in your class and form study groups 7. If you can’t go to their scheduled office hours, don’t be afraid to schedule an appointment with them! - That being said, make sure that you’re prepared to meet with them. There won’t be other students asking questions, most likely, so it’s all on you to make the meeting worth both of your time. It's never too late to start going to office hours, so don't get discouraged that we only have a little over a month left of the semester. Good luck!

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Posted by Kelley Doyle at 0:48 | Permalink

19 April 2010

Field life!

In the midst of Telebears season, I wanted to pass on some advice about one of my favorite classes this semester! Many CNR students have to take Biology 1B to satisfy a lower division requirement, but few are aware of the field section option. I highly recommend this for students who enjoy being outside and want to get a head start with research! Especially for environmental science majors, this class serves as great preparation for your independent senior thesis! Our lab section meets for the same 4-hour discussion/lab period as regular Bio1B sections, but we don't spend the entire time working on the assigned labs for the week. Instead, our research groups get to work on developing our experiment, sampling in the field, and finally analyzing and compiling the data. But *be aware* that this lab is a much bigger time commitment, because you have to do extra work for your research project outside of lab time! Also, we had the opportunity to go on 2 field trips to Point Reyes and the Presidio thus far, and are going on our last field trip to Mt. Diablo this week! These field trips are a great opportunity to supplement lecture material with real-life experiences. Here are some photos from our first trip to Point Reyes! pal%20blog%201.JPG pal%20blog%202.JPG pal%20blog%203.JPG Specifically for my group's research project, we are studying the effects of culverts on water quality and habitat health of Strawberry Creek. We are doing this by analyzing populations of benthic macro invertebrates as bio indicators at locations above and below the 3 culverts nearest to campus. These macro invertebrates can be classified into species that are tolerant, non-tolerant, and semi-tolerant to pollution. From that, we can classify habitats as better or poorer quality based on the tolerance of the organisms living there. Here are some photos we took while collecting samples for our research project! pal%20blog%20benthos%202.JPG pal%20blog%20benthos%201.JPG pal%20blog%20benthos%203.JPG pal%20blog%20benthos%204.JPG pal%20blog%20benthos%205.JPG pal%20blog%20benthos%206.JPG pal%20blog%20benthos%207.JPG Our group and the rest of the groups in my section will be presenting our projects during RRR week, on Thursday May 6th! These presentations will be open to the public, so feel free to stop by if you are interested in hearing more! For more information and details about applying, check out the official website at http://ib.berkeley.edu/courses/bio1b/field/fs.htm. Happy scheduling! Kelley

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Posted by Kelley Doyle at 2:40 | Permalink

08 March 2010

Tips for Studying

1. Start early! If you already know the material, you don’t have to spend as much time studying for it. Get in the habit of reviewing your notes before and after lecture! 2. Budget your time wisely. Plan out what you want to do, and realistically allot the time you will need to accomplish each task. I usually list out everything that I want to do to prepare for an exam (for example: read over my notes, re-read assigned chapters, do practice problems, do practice exams), and then fit it into my schedule for the week preceding the date of the test. 3. Make a study group. It’s always better when you can talk over exam material with your fellow peers. Make up a list of questions while going through the material on your own, and quiz each other to see if you actually know it! Need a place to get together? Study rooms are available in the Main Stacks. Go to http://sunsite.berkeley.edu:7090/main_stack/ to reserve online. 4. Utilize outside resources, such as test banks and the SLC. A few of the test banks I have used are: Tau Beta Pi Honor Society - http://tbp.berkeley.edu/, Bioengineering Honor Society - http://bioehs.berkeley.edu/index.php/resources/test-bank. A lot of honor societies and student organizations have their own test files, so try to find those that are relevant to your field of study! 5. Get help from GSIs and professors! Go to office hours and review sessions with specific questions, so that you can get the most out of it. Also, try to go early because office hours tend to get crowded right before an exam! 6. Do what works best for you. For me, I need to go through all of my lecture notes and re-copy them into an organized study guide. So, find what method works best for you and go with it! 7. Do practice problems! Once you feel comfortable with the material, time yourself while taking practice exams to better prepare yourself for the actual test. 8. Get enough sleep the night before… you don’t want to fall asleep during the exam! 9. Take a break before the actual exam…don’t cram right up until the exam starts! 10. Be confident! You got into Berkeley for a reason…don’t doubt your abilities! Best of luck during midterm season! Kelley

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Posted by Kelley Doyle at 9:48 | Permalink

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