CETL Learning Tips: Avoiding risky and tricky academic situations

Christina Moore, CETL Virtual Faculty Developer

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Welcome to the Learning Tips Series! I’m Christina Moore from the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, where we work with faculty who are sharing and expanding their teaching practices. Since this work is ultimately about making a great learning experience for you, we’re working with The Oakland Post to provide quick but powerful tips to get the most out of learning in your classes and beyond.

As we’re about a month from the end of the semester, it’s time to make a plan to do well on final exams and projects. Making a plan not only reduces stress and improves your grades, but can also help avoid academic risky situations that lead to cheating or plagiarism. Most of us think we won’t find ourselves in these situations, but sometimes risky behaviors like taking extra “help” on smaller assignments or planning on citing sources in our paper “later” can accumulate into a serious situation with your professor and the dean of students. It never hurts to safeguard yourself against these situations and detect early warnings that you might be headed in the wrong direction.

If you’re writing a paper: 

  • Solidify a paper topic and sources at least a week before the final paper. Last-minute decisions to change sources and topics makes you more likely to forget to cite sources, list references, and revise in a way that detects potential writing issues. Even if it’s not the best topic, make it the best you can!
  • Book a Writing Center appointment now, even if you think you won’t need it. Having an appointment on the books now is motivation to get some work done leading up to the paper due date. And if you are stuck and struggling at appointment time, the OUWC consultations can help get you going. You can book appointments online for the current week, and to make appointments further in advance, call the Writing Center at (248) 370-3120. They fill up near the end of the semester.
  • Consult your professor, as needed. If, for whatever reason, you find yourself at a point of panic, talk with your professor before considering pasting in wholesale paragraphs from the web. They may be able to work with you on a plan.

If you’re preparing for an exam:

  • Locate or request exam review materials. It’s not too early! Ask your instructor for exam review materials, or for advice on how to start now to prepare for the exam. Specific questions can help as well, such as what type of questions will be asked (multiple choice, short answer), what units or concepts are most represented on the exam or if textbook practice problems are similar to the exam.  
  • Make or do practice problems. Whether they’re from a test review, textbook or The Tutoring Center, find ways to test what you know and don’t know. Practice-testing is one of the most powerful learning actions, although it’s very underused.

Come talk with us for more strategies and to share your experiences! Join us for our next Student for Excellence in Teaching (SET) Forum on Wednesday, Nov. 20 from 5-6 p.m. to share experiences around cheating at OU, such as conditions that lead students to these academically risky situations. Dinner will be provided. RSVP in advance so that we have plenty of food for all, and invite a friend! We’ll be in 200A Elliott Hall. For more information, visit oakland.edu/cetl.

Christina Moore
Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning

Find more Learning Tips at oakland.edu/teachingtips.