Assignments can be daunting at times; therefore, it is important to approach them with a strategy to avoid getting overwhelmed. Having a strategy to approach your assignments is even more important when learning online as you do not necessarily have an instructor lining up a work schedule for you.
Below are four steps you can take to help you prepare and complete assignments with minimal stress and maximum success. These tips can be embedded or nested within the planning stage of the process that independent learners follow when taking courses. Visit the module My Online Learning Journey of this course to know more about who independent learners are.
Step number one is to create an assignment plan. The plan is divided in four tasks
a) First, Understand the assignment: Read the assignment outline and ask any questions you may have after you first read it or received it. The last thing you want is to start working on it and realize that you are confused.
b) Then you will need to budget your time: This is especially important if you have other commitments such as work or other courses. Creating an assignment schedule can assist you in knowing when you need to get things done and when you can just relax or work on other things.
c) For larger assignments or projects you can create a project plan noting how long each step of the project or assignment would take to complete.
d) Finally, consider the deadline! In order to account for events out of your control (loss of internet, faulty printer etc) consider moving the deadline up by one day, just in case!
Procrastination is not your friend. The earlier you complete your assignment plan the more time you will have to work on the assignment, re-work any parts if needed, and ask questions along the way.
Step number two is selecting the space where you will work. Use the suggestions from the section on setting up our learning space to create a space that is inviting and has everything you need to complete your assignment.
In step number three you will start to work on your assignment. Here are three useful tips:
e) Tip number 1. Tackle the hardest portions first: You have the most energy when you first start, so use that energy and focus on the hardest portions of the assignments so that later when you are tired you can have a brain break by working on the easy portions of the assignments.
f) Tip number 2. Keep moving ahead: If you get stuck, try and work through it the best you can but do not dwell on it. It is better to ask your instructor or your peers for help than wasting time getting nowhere.
- There are two different types of thinking, focused and diffused thinking. Focused thinking is self-explanatory, it is when you are concentrating on a particular task and distractions do not exist. Diffused thinking on the other hand is when you let your mind wonder freely and let you brain connect the dots on its own. When you brain has a chance to relax it gives it the opportunity to make a creative break through. So, consider switching to a diffused way of thinking if you get stuck.
g) Tip number three. Take breaks: Unless you are on a roll, try to take a 15-minute break every hour. This will keep your mind fresh and focused throughout your study time.
The final step, step number four is to get help when you need it
h) UCalgary Continuing Education has many support resources that you can utilize to make your learning experience as stress free as possible.
i) Always keep in mind that is better to get help than try to figure things out on your own and fall behind. So, reach out to your instructor, peers, and any other people from your support network.