Handy Group Assignment Tips

group assignment hangover referenceWe’ve all been here, haven’t we? The massive group assignment that nobody really wants to take a part in, but we have to because, well… we need to pass the subject! We all know those feels. It’s difficult to trust another person with a particular section or part of the assignment because we just don’t trust that they will do it, or do a good job.

But, I think there are a number of ways to help the group assignment process go more smoothly. I recently completed a 50% group assignment where we had to give a 45-minute presentation to our peers and I think there were a number of things that helped this assignment go relatively well.

To begin with, we’ve all been friends for a number of semesters now, which made things incredibly easy. We already have each other on Facebook, so organising get-togethers wasn’t difficult at all. We all knew each other’s personalities, strengths and weaknesses. If you’re able, I definitely recommend trying to create an assignment group with people you know and, better yet, people you are friends with!

This way, people normally feel relatively guilty if they social loaf, or turn up late to group meetings or don’t do their assigned part of the paper as well as they could. And, of course, it’s easy to tell them that they’re slacking off too (in the nicest way possible of course!).

Try to organise things early. Just like with every assignment, if you leave it to the last minute, it’s going to be difficult, especially with a number of people trying to organise its completion.  For my latest group assignment, we had it completed two weeks before the presentation date, so we had plenty of time to practice our presentation beforehand.

Try and make as many group get-togethers as possible. Texting, phone calls, emails and Facebook messages can only go so far when there are more than 2 of you. And this way, you can really figure out how far the others have gone with their allocated section, as well as brainstorming how to fit each section into the final assignment.

Try to have fun. I know… that sounds crazy, huh? I always try to at least enjoy one part of the assignment if I can. Whether it’s writing the actual paper (on something I really enjoy), or doing a fabulous job of researching, or even that great feeling of presenting on the day and absolutely nailing it! I find I normally get a decent mark on the assignments I enjoy and although that’s obviously not always possible, we can at least try, can’t we?

Having fun in group assignments can be as easy as having a chilled break in the middle of a get-together, going to get a coffee or chatting with your group members about things other than the assignment. This will build team rapport, and make the group assignment just that little bit easier.

I hope these group assignment tips have been useful, and will help you brainstorm some new ways to smash out a group assignment next time you have one!

The Facts and Myths about University Life!

Is it true that university lecturers don’t actually mind if you sleep through their lecture? Can university assignments really be handed in at midnight? Is it true that there are different clubs students can be involved in? Is there really such a thing as a 24 hour library? Are all university students poor? Do all first year students gain 15kgs? But most importantly, is university life fun?

All these questions and more will be answered in this mythbusting blog!

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Three years of study completed, one more semester to go and then I’m done and dusted! My occupation will no longer be classified as ‘Student’, but as ‘Registered Nurse’. What a roller-coaster ride my university experience has been…there have been lots of ups and downs.

I will start with the ‘downs’, these moments are just like falling from the Giant Drop at Dream World. The first 6 months of my study was completed at a university in Brisbane and I lived on-campus as a college student. It is true that I gained weight in the first 6 months of my degree (fresher spread they call it). I was experiencing ‘culture shock’- Brisbane is very different from Hervey Bay and I missed my family. I comforted myself with chocolate and I always gave in to the yummy desserts that the college’s chef cooked. I would advise all first year students to say NO to that chocolate bar, but YES to going for a run or bike ride! It is surprisingly true that people sleep through their lectures without their lecturer knowing. In large Brisbane universities there are up to 500 students in some lecture theatres. I suggest you find a friend that is studious and will pinch you on the arm if you start to drift off to sleep or daydream. I was studying a science degree and HATED it, so the best suggestion I can give to any uni student is to study something you enjoy! A great thing about studying in the city is that there are over 100 different social clubs to join…from the chess club to the athletics club.

Don’t let my first experience of uni life in Brisbane put you off…I just wasn’t ready to hit the big smoke!

The ‘ups’ to my uni life is just like the Superman ride at Movie World where you’d like to do it again and again. The last 2 ½ years of my study have been at USQ, studying nursing. Moving back to Hervey Bay to study nursing was the best decision I have ever made. USQ Fraser Coast Campus is such a great uni; you can get to know all your peers and your lecturers at a more personal level. The only down side is you can’t sleep through your lectures because the class sizes are a lot smaller and your teacher will hear you snoring. In reality the smaller class sizes are great; you are forced to stay awake and listen to exam content plus you can ask questions without 500 other eyes looking at you!

blog1Most assignments are to be submitted online by midnight (great for all those last minute assignment stress bunnies)! The student library at the Fraser Coast Campus this year underwent a huge refurbishment – it is now such a vibrant, fun place to study. Even better, the library is open to all USQ students 24 hours a day.

 

 

blog2Uni students aren’t always poor. We may not be the richest of people, but we learn to manage by applying for scholarships and bursaries. Part-time work is also an option and has been manageable for me personally. It’s always good to earn some extra spending money for those much needed shopping sprees!

 

 

blog2Uni isn’t always just about study. The Student Representative Committee (SRC) at the USQ Fraser Coast Campus in 2013 held many fun events. I attended their bowling night which was great fun to interact with new people and to win cool prizes! The SRC finished with a bang this year by holding a Gala Dinner with a 2 course meal, live entertainment and prizes to be won. Goes to show that uni doesn’t have to be about studying 24/7, but about having fun while you are doing it!

All in all, university is a lot better than what I thought it would be. I thought it would be really hard and scary! Thankfully it is nothing like that; with fun people, great job opportunities and more contact with lecturers means you can make friends of all ages. I have made friends for life! All of the staff want to see you do your very best and enjoy every moment…embrace it! I have loved being a university student and would do it again in the blink of an eye.

This blog has officially been busted! Keep an eye out for me in the future, I have thought about starting a new blog in 2014 as a graduate nurse. Thank you for reading my blogs this year, I have enjoyed writing them and sharing my knowledge.

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All the best,

Kara :)

Taking a breather

Did anyone else feel like a switch was flicked as soon as their last assessment piece was submitted? I know I did. For me this assessment piece was an online quiz and the instant the ‘submit answers’ button was clicked, I could feel the smile emerge from one of my ears to the other. From that moment, I had transformed from a stressed and irritable university student to a contented and relieved ‘uni bum’. The best word I can think of to describe that feeling of having the bare minimum to do for a whole three weeks is bliss.

And that’s just about what I’ve done – nothing. Well not nothing, but the necessities blended with spending time with family and friends, some gradual spring (or winter, whichever you would prefer) cleaning, and some shopping (of course!). I have also been receiving my results progressively and the picture below that USQ shared with us all on Facebook describes my reaction to these perfectly. Can anybody relate?

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Being a residential college student, I am open to lots of activities and events. There are some stand-out moments from Semester 1 that I’d like to share.

Semi Formal

On the 24th of May Steele Rudd held their annual semi formal and this year’s theme was Disney. Once again the kitchen staff provided a delicious three course meal and our college committee organised an enjoyable night for everyone. I went as Snow White and below I am pictured with Sophia (AKA Pocahontas) who received “Best Dressed Female” on the night.

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 Res Shield

Thanks to the Residential Colleges’ sports coordinators, all three colleges compete in a range of sporting events throughout the year, known as Res Shield. Below is a picture of myself and others from Steele Rudd College at the soccer game. Rules were altered a little so that boys didn’t have a huge advantage over girls. Some say this was unfair (mainly the males) but I didn’t complain :P Although Steele Rudd ended up last on the night we all had a ball – both players and supporters!

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Now I plan to spend my last week of holidays at the beach and do what every person loves to do best – relax! Needless to say shopping will also be involved. Following this will be purchasing textbooks and having a look through Study Desk to see what lies ahead for me in Semester 2. One thing I learnt from last semester is that staying on top of things goes a long way, and by following the study schedules and keeping on track, you will be saved from a whole lot of stressing at the last minute (I learnt this the hard way).

The best advice I have received and can pass on to you during this time (although it’s nearly all over) is – unwind, reenergise and do what you love to do best when you have the chance to do it. Watch lots of movies, read your favourite book (a better substitution to textbooks), or maybe even go out and do something adventurous for the day. Mainly, just take advantage of this spare time that you usually don’t have. This will not only give you a boost but you will then walk into Semester 2 feeling refreshed and prepared.

Being the soccer fanatic I am, I relate this point of the year to halftime in a soccer match; you’ve finished the first half and now you have the chance to reflect on what went right, what went wrong, and how to improve on the setbacks you experienced. If you’re unhappy with how you went in the first part of the match, there’s always the second half to reach the results you desire, as long as you’re prepared to bring determination to the game!

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Hope you all enjoy the remainder of the holidays and all the best for Semester 2!

Kristie :)

The Ups and Downs of being a Uni Student

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Being a university student can be amazing and also at times overwhelming. I am in my second year of nursing and one word that explains my first five weeks of this semester is ‘hectic’. It feels like I am drowning in lectures, readings and assignments.Image

This semester I am undertaking four subjects: pharmacology, episodes of nursing, mental health and a prac subject. Each subject has a lot of information each week to read and understand, which has been very time consuming.

This semester I have had to do quite a few online quizzes for my subjects and these quizzes count towards my end of semester grade. The quizzes can be quite nerve-racking because I want to get the best grade possible. So far this semester I have been receiving really good marks… so let’s hope I can continue to do so for the rest of the semester. I had one huge assignment that was due a few days before Easter. I left most of the work til the last minute (study tip 101: save yourself the pressure and don’t leave assignments til the last minute).  Don’t worry though, I got the assignment in on time and hopefully receive a good grade for it. If only I started the assignment earlier I would not have had such a stressful week of late nights finishing it. Maybe, just maybe before I graduate I will learn to start assessment pieces earlier.

I have been enjoying my classes this semester though, and I love all of my tutors and lecturers. I am enjoying my practical subject it’s great to be able to put theory in to practice. Each week of this semester has been a bit of a blur because I have been so busy preparing for classes, studying and working part time at Woollies.

The best part of being a university student hands-down is having lots of holidays throughout the year. My Easter holidays are going to consist of: catching up on university work (boring), catching up on sleep, working at Woollies for some spending money, catching up with friends, eating lots of chocolate, baking yummy food, visiting the Australia Zoo with our Japanese exchange student, lots of walks and bike rides on the beach, going to a musical in Brisbane, possibly shopping at the Sunshine Coast and all in all relaxing.

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I hope your first few weeks of university haven’t been too hectic like mine. I also hope you have a fun filled, relaxing holiday.

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I look forward to blogging again in a few weeks time about my university adventures.

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Kara

My secret skill: Juggling!

The dictionary definition of juggling is:

  • to perform the tricks of a juggler
  • to engage in manipulation especially in order to achieve a desired end
  • to handle or deal with usually several things (as obligations) at one time so as to satisfy often competing requirements

The latter two relate to me. I have mastered the skill to juggle the responsibilities of family life, my full-time university studies, a casual job and my ‘me’ time. This, at times, leads to feeling like the star attraction in my very own ‘family’ circus, and my 3 girls are the ringmasters  ;)

I am sure that I am not the only one out there who feels this way at times, you long for the mid semester break, to have the chance to catch a breath just in the nick of time, only to start back again and sit through long nights of study before end of semester exams. You take a break and it starts all over again, a constant juggling act.

This mid semester break I had the opportunity to travel interstate for a ‘real’ holiday, at my family reunion.  It was a challenge to prepare my assessment early to ensure the time away was really a holiday. But it definitely paid out in the end. I cannot stress how important it is to ensure a good study/family/work balance together with fun and recreation. I think I had forgotten what it felt like to just sit and do nothing, listen to the waves – we were at the beach – and just spend time with the family. I even got a chance to go quad biking on the largest sand dunes in Australia with some of my family. Best fun I have had in ages!

It can be so easy to get caught up in the stresses and deadlines of uni life. However, by keeping on top of things, or when necessary, knowing when to let things go, we can achieve all we need to without missing out on anything.  There are occasions when I don’t get time to do the housework because an assignment is due. If I work late, I’ll order pizza for dinner, and if I have a kids soccer match to attend, I stay up late and study. It all balances out in the end. A bit of give and take, and a lot of quality time with the family is all it takes for me. My eldest daughter Chloe says she’d much prefer that I spend ½ hr doing something with her, then spending half the day in the same room on the laptop working. Quality time, not quantity. I wish I could say the same for work, lol. But there is nothing I can do about the time spent at work. Having said that, there are times I have to turn down a shift to ensure I am there for my family.

Knowing your priorities and planning your time will help you stay in control. I ask myself, is what I am doing now going to matter in the long run? Is it going to make my life easier or more difficult? Does it really matter if the dishes are not done until morning? When necessary, there are things I need to take out of my ‘juggling’ act to make my time as a uni student more successful without hindering my family, work and recreational time. What are some things you could take out of yours, even if only for a short time, to help you through when needed?

The Beginning of the End

Here it is. The beginning of the end. After 3 and a half years, 28 courses, 56 assignments (roughly) as well as several exams and quizzes, I am now staring into the face of my final semester at USQ.

For many, this semester will be their first. It will be marked with new and exciting experiences; the starting point in working to achieve their goals and dreams. For me though, this semester will be characterised through a series of ‘lasts’. The last uni textbook I buy, the last courses I complete, the last assignment I submit, the last prac I participate in – my university life is drawing to a close.

While I am excited about the doors that will unlock and open in the completion of an Education degree, I can’t help but feel nostalgic. I have loved my uni life from the very first lecture. I have changed, I have grown and I have discovered who I am as well as what my passions are. I have met some wonderful and inspiring people, many of whom have become part of my ‘uni family’, and have had some amazing experiences.

I have done things that four years ago I would never have dreamt that I would do. This is very true of an experience that I have had recently. I remember back to my first ‘O Week’, when I attended all of the information sessions that I could (in a desperate bid to ease my nerves). One of these was a lecture on professional placements (pracs; going out to schools to teach). Sometime through this, two fourth year students made their way to the front of the lecture theatre and discussed their recent prac, in Thailand. I remember thinking two things. My first thought centred on the public speaking aspect, I wondered if I would ever truly be comfortable speaking in front of such a large group. Secondly, I thought about actually teaching kids in another country. What a seemingly impossible task!

Less than three years later, I was boarding a plane with two other USQ students (who I had met previously but really didn’t know). We were off to teach in Thailand! The three week experience was unbelievable. I taught maths to high school children in Chiang Mai, observed and participated in many cultural traditions, rode elephants, played with tigers (yes – real life tigers) and was able to share these amazing experiences with two other USQ students who I now regard as family.  Since then, I have given presentations about this prac to large groups of students – just as the two students I envied had done! Through these reflections of the past 3 and a half years, I can see how much I have grown as a person as well as a teacher.

My first lectures of my final semester have just started. So, it is with my last textbook, pen and notepad in hand that I leave nostalgia behind (for now) and refocus on my goal – finish the degree. However, like a good Hollywood movie, I will leave you now with a small reflective montage of my uni life over the past few years. Enjoy