Possible: The Study Skills Pack
What is 'Mission Possible'
all about? Why use this material?
Many students, at some point in their study, find themselves
apparently powerless to improve. They may get stuck in the same old
problems. Their grades refuse to budge. Coursework becomes a chore.
Other students might actually be doing very well, yet seem thwarted
in their attempts to hit the very top notes of achievement.
Mission Possible offers all such students and their tutors, at
the very least, a partial remedy. This diverse palette of Study Skills
resources has been developed over a number of years by Mario
Petrucci, Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Oxford Brookes University,
and with the bogged-down student very much in mind. It is free for
anyone to use, student or tutor, either in personal study or as part
of a tutored course (though not for publication or resale, see Conditions
of Use below).
The Pack is already tried and tested, and has proved invaluable to
students in the preparation of essays, dissertations, talks and presentations,
as well as for anyone attempting to survive exams. Many of the techniques,
though, go further than that: they also help with 'life skills'. That
is, the ideas can be adapted to all kinds of situation – anything
from the design of a clear and energetic CV, to giving an impressive
job (or radio!) interview. The benefits are lifelong.
Who can benefit from this Pack ?
Anyone interested in self-development through reading, writing
Mature students and sixth-formers preparing for the independent regime
of university study, along with its various and demanding tasks (essays,
exams, presentations, vivas, etc).
Students already at university (post-graduates too) motivated to find
new stress-reducing study techniques or ways of enhancing grades,
confidence and (yes, it can happen) their enjoyment of courses.
Tutors and Teachers, and their departments, seeking support or fresh
ideas in establishing (or augmenting) a rigorous, effective and student-friendly
approach to Study Skills.
RLF Fellows in academic/ writing institutions, involved in 1-to-1
or group work where Study Skills are an on-going concern, or dealing
with repetitive study-based problems.
What kinds of topic are included?
Speaking & Presenting in Public
Design & Delivery of Overhead Transparencies
Voice, Body, Breath; Nerves
Creating a 'Core Statement' (for essay plans, etc)
Making sure you answer the Question
Building Your Argument: '13 Ways'
Modes of Reading : 'Skim/ Scan/ Spiral'
Memory and Revision
Mnemonics (making memory easier)
Strands of Study (a strategy for the entire year)
Managing Tasks: the 6-Stage Attack
Building 'Personal Modules' (your knowledge base)
Proofing & Checking
The Five Writers (how do you work?)
Basic Study Skills: a summary
Building English (eg for overseas students)
What the Pack doesn't do…
Mission Possible is by no means exhaustive, nor
is it a cure-all for every type of difficulty one encounters in essays,
exams or research. There are gaps which, given the space and time,
I would have liked to plug (including that fraught issue of how to
adjust the work to meet a required word count). Moreover, there are
common queries in essay-writing – such as the conventions for bibliographies,
quotes, etc – which I keep silence on, partly because they are dealt
with so thoroughly elsewhere (for instance, a mere click or two away
on this very site, in David Kennedy's excellent guide). I focus instead
on a number of key skills in study, planning and presentation, often
of deep concern to students but not always dealt with in the 'How-To'
books. I also introduce new, unusual or revitalising techniques to
cope with some of the perennial problems. As ever, though, one cannot
find all the answers in one place – one never does! – but I am confident
Mission Possible will give its visitors a good start.
Conditions of Use
I am entirely happy for any of these handouts and exercises
(or adaptations of them) to be copied and used for educational purposes,
subject to the following conditions:
Please ensure each sheet or excerpt retains the copyright notation:
© Mario Petrucci 2005;
No idea, text or image may be reproduced or re-published
in saleable form.
Use of ideas or material in articles, journal papers, etc. requires
the usual courtesy of acknowledgement.
'Mission Possible' background: how
it came to be; where it's going.