September 30, 2009, by Teaching at Nottingham

Study skills support for international students

Video >>
Rebecca Moor, Legal Skills Advisor, School of Law: “Students can either make appointments to come see me one on one or in a group, and throughout the year, I also run workshops, lectures, sessions geared towards specific skills needs that students have, they’ve either expressed in the past or members of academic staff have said “this is a real issue, can you please, you know, hold a workshop on this subject”. And, in terms of specifically for international students, at the start of the year, I run a session, a discussion session for international students, and that’s both for undergraduates and taught masters. And I like to do that at the start of the year to get a sense of what their needs are.

“Results come out, let’s say in February, and then I get a lot of students coming and saying “I got this particular mark”, “I did read my feedback, I don’t get it”. Or “I got this particular mark, I can’t even bear to read my feedback because I’m so devastated by my mark” or whatever, “can you please help me, you know, figure out where I went wrong”, and “what I can do to improve my marks next time”. So those are the two big issues. An then students come and see me for everything else from “I did really well and I’m not quite sure why, can you help me figure it out so that I can be, you know, repeat that performance”, to, “Help, I don’t think law school’s for me, what do I do” to, “I don’t know how to cite this”, “I can’t find the answer to that”, and, any kind of general study thing that comes up.

“As legal skills advisor, I run, in conjunction with the postgraduate skills programme a series of workshops with the assistance of PhD students who have been through the programme here called Getting the Most out of your Seminars: how to pick seminars, how to decide which ones are right for you when you start a seminar, how do you do the work, how do you tackle the reading, how do you tackle note taking, that kind of thing, so induction is everything.

“It’s designed for either international students that are new to the legal system or indeed non-international students who just may know nothing about law, who may have had, you know, a degree in science or something.”

Ting Lu, Student, School of Law: “The Law School did organise a couple of skill programmes, for example like how to read cases faster and like how to take notes from seminars and how to get most out of the seminar. They asked some doctoral students who had taken LLM before to share their experience with us. I think that was really good because you can learn from people who have the same experience with you and I think their advice was very practical and efficient.”

Rebecca Moor: “It does come up, that a student will say ‘Look, I’m really struggling’, and they will start talking about their work, and then eventually it will emerge that other things are going on, and it’s not just problems academically.”

Peter Yeandle, School of History: “In my job I am the social tutor as well, a pastoral as well as an academic tutor, but I think my relationship with them really did prosper because they didn’t have to come to me in an academic context to say, ‘I got a terrible essay mark politics,’ or, ‘I got terrible listening exam response in French.’ They can see you in a social setting and they just say, ‘What do you think this means?’.

“I think we try and teach them some sort of template or ideal version of study skills but I think I’m much more in sympathy with the conceptual approach where you encourage students to work out their own best study methods and then they develop their own study skills from there on in, because everybody is different.”

Chris Barnatt, NUBS: “We also run what we call a study course programme where we’ve got a dedicated member of staff whose job is just student support and therefore students who are, I suppose a self select people take the programme. It’s not compulsory but about 200 students a year take that and we tend to find the students who do that have a lot less problems settling into what our education is about.”

Christopher Barnatt
Nottingham University Business School
Ting Lu
School of Law
Rebecca Moor
School of Law
Peter Yeandle
School of History

Extracts from interviews with staff and students about experiences of internationalisation. This video was originally published as part of PESL’s Learning from internationalisation collection. Produced November 2009.

Posted in InternationalisationTransition into HE