This is the second part of a two part post. You can read the first part, Making study at UTS work for your students: tips from graduates here.

Keith Heggart is a lecturer with UTS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and is director of the Graduate Certificate in Learning Design program. Created with industry and based on dynamic research, the course develops students’ core competencies in learning design through focused studies that combine practice and essential knowledge.

As a subject coordinator of some experience, there are some mistakes that I see students making time and time again. These aren’t really misunderstandings in terms of content or an inability to learn to perform certain skills – although they do occur – but rather what I call ‘easy misses’. These are simple things that students can, and should do to set them up better for a positive learning experience. Here are some suggestions to overcome common mistakes which you may wish to share with your students. 

Easy misses for students to avoid

I didn’t read the subject outline

This is the most important thing you should do before you even have your first class or lab. You need to be disciplined here, and make sure that you examine the subject outline for every subject carefully, especially sections like attendance requirements, assessment tasks and due dates, and the rubrics for the assessment tasks.

I waited to be reminded about the tasks

Don’t wait for your lecturer or tutor to remind you about when tasks are due. While some will do that for you, it is your responsibility to keep track of the schedule of assignment and task due dates. Put everything in a calendar and check that calendar every day. There are few worse feelings than that sinking feeling when you realise you’ve got an assignment due – and you haven’t started!

I left it all to the last minute

This is related to the topic above, but it’s about a lot more than just the assessment tasks. Like we’ve said above, you need to find a ‘home’ – that is, get into a routine where you do the work and you do it regularly. Should you not do this, it makes achieving in the subject much, much harder at the crunch end.

I wrote an answer to the question I wanted to answer, not the one I was asked

I see this one all the time in assessments like essays and reports, and it is the trap that frustrates me more than any other – because often these essays are quite good. But, because they are not answering the question that was asked, you haven’t given yourself the chance to succeed.

I left it too late to ask for help

There is a lot of help available at UTS – but you’ll never get anything from it unless you make use of it. And part of getting help is knowing when to ask. There’s no point asking for an extension after the assignment is due, for example. Again, don’t be backwards in coming forwards and asking for help. 

I didn’t learn how to cite

This is where so many easy marks go down the drain. All faculties have their own preference for how you should reference works in your writing. And most faculties explicitly assess these as part of the writing process. So if you don’t learn how to do this right you are basically throwing marks away. Lots of people say citing is hard – but there are lots of tools that will assist you in this, such as Refworks. One-to-one help is also available through the UTS Library

I didn’t look after myself

This is possibly the hardest one, and also the most important. We’re all very busy people – many of us juggle social lives, family commitments, memberships of clubs, jobs, our studies, and probably a lot more. It can be easy to overlook ourselves, and making sure we’re looking after both our mental and physical health. Make this a priority for you.

Succeeding with support

We know that beginning a new phase of your journey of lifelong learning can be daunting, but it can also be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life! There are supports available to help you along the way, so reach out, and ask for help when you need to. We hope the above tips help to make your time at university more productive and enjoyable.

  • Hi Keith, thanks for the great article! I’m an Accessibility Consultant – and there are additional supports including:

    ASSESSMENT PLANNERS found on the Student Hub: see
    A great way to see at a glance when the crunch weeks are, to plan ahead and to be sure no tasks are missed.

    READ & WRITE – UTS has site license for a powerful app which is available to all students and staff: see
    Read & Write which is available for free to UTS students and works on Windows, Mac, iPads and Android tablets. Read & Write is a floating toolbar that assists with reading, writing, research and revision. You can:
    • Highlight text and read it out aloud
    • Highlight and automatically reference selected text
    • Convert text to audio files
    • Build specialised vocabulary lists with definitions
    • And much more!

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