Study Hacks on Campus: Putra University of Malaysia

Archive for January 2010

SHOC Malaysia had its first unofficial discussions on the 22nd (Friday) and 23rd of January (Saturday). As of now the current SHOC members consists of:

  • Daniel (Myself) who hail from Putra University of Malaysia (Physics)
  • Rafique who hail from Taylors University College (Business and Accounting)
  • Zaiffarally who hail from Lagenda College (Business and Managment)

The reason we had this pre-discussions is because Zaiffarally is having his final of finals diploma exam on the 4th week of January where he will soon be graduating afterwards and ready to enter life as an undergraduate, just like the rest of us.  He has yet to be introduced with the capture system of SHOC, thus he assumed that SHOC meetings or simply the mere mention of the cold word “meeting” will take up a lot of his time and wanted to do it after his finals. Rafique, meanwhile finished his mid-semester test on the 3rd week of January. Therefore, amid all of this uncertainty and the burning urge to get the ball rolling for this small group I decided to do an informal ice breaking session of what this so called SHOC thing is.

Below is a brief outline of what contents of the discussion were. Memo to Raf and Zap. Inaugration rituals need to be done immediately after the first official SHOC meeting. In the mean time, you guys can come up with *insert adjective here* ideas if you have any.

1. Question, Evidence, Conclusion note taking method for non-technical courses

Discussion began of what a typical first lecture would be. Usually in the first class, a lecturer would introduce himself, office hours, and the course outline. The lecturer would then give an intro to the course. For non-technical courses, we found out varying degrees of different note taking strategies implemented by the lecturers (.

  • Daniel- Given all the lectures slides in a booklet. I than have to fill in the blanks as the lecture slides are being shown.
  • Rafique- Same as me
  • Zaiffarally- He takes his reading material and makes his own marking on it

It is interesting to note that Zaiffarally has unconsciously been doing the correct smart note taking strategy. After all group members have given their various note taking strategies, the discussions proceeded by a brief example regarding the fall of the Roman Empire as given in the Cal’s little red book. Originality and practicality aside, the smart note taking can be summarised with 3 words:

  • Question

A lecturer will always begin a topic with a general question summarising the entire topic before going to more specific questions. Therefore as the lecture is going along, we have to formulate questions to summarise what he is saying. Questions is how people in academia think and are essentially the mover of a lecture. If the lecturer explicitly shows the question on the slide, write it down. If he doesn’t, figure out what the question from the lecture is and write it down.

  • Evidence

After a question is posed, evidence is shown. This is more generally known as the elaboration of the lecture and typically is the  longest part of a lecture. For example, in Entrepreneurship the evidence for the question “How to prepare a business plan?” would be operations,marketing and finance. Under the question, the word operations,marketing and finance are bulleted. Notes regarding the specific points can be added.

  • Conclusion

The final part consists of a the conclusion of the question.  If we followed question on “How to prepare a business plan?” than typically the conclusion would be “Business plan is an intersection of operations, marketing and finance principles”. Most conclusions are not straight forward like this one, therefore proper understanding of it is required beforehand.

Remarks and questions about the QEC format:

  • If pressed for time, ensure the question is written. Jot down all the evidence if possible. The conclusion part can be left as a blank and be written back again during a lull in the lecture that can happen. For example, when the whole class ends up laughing when the dude at the back asks a ridiculous question.
  • If you guys have a rather reliable laptop, take it to class and use it to type down your notes. Its better because firstly you can type faster than you can write and secondly, you can freely edit it with various symbols and sizes later for reviewing.
  • How does the QEC format fit in when the lecturer gives out a booklet to fill in the blanks based upon the lecture slides ?

2. Divide big jobs into chunks

Big jobs, should be divided into small managable tasks each day. If it takes 15 hours to complete, then if you do 1 hour per day, by 15 days you will finish. Sounds easier said than done I know, however one only has to remember the Chinese proverb.

Journey of a thousand miles begin with a single step

Or you can even put it in today’s contemporary words of Neil Armstrong.

One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

The point is as soon as you do something, no matter how small, the intial fear of starting and procrastinating dissapears and you find that the task is easier and less daunting to accomplish.

Ironically, when this discussion took place, Zaiffrally just did an all-nighter from 2am-4am and ended up waking at 11am. During this final week of his exams, he can only go out to maximum of 3 hours before his parents starts calling him. You see, college education has got parents more concerned about their pockets rather than their kids wellfare. Me and Raf tried to persuade him to stand up for his rights to chill productively with us (ie talking about SHOC, gals, liquor, world issues). However, he decided not to go against the current and since then we have nicknamed him “Mama’s boy”. Sorry Zap, I just can’t resist.

3. Battling procrastination

Me and Zaiffrally also had a small discussion about procrastination. Thus, this topic basically revolved around this central question.

  • How do you fight the urge of playing Facebook for hours?

Almost every single college kid has Facebook. If they don’t have it, they will usually succumb to the peer pressure of opening an account. The government in Malaysia is also monitoring Facebook. A recent Malaysian student was arrested by the police after he posted on his status he haid ties with the Malaysian church arsons. With Farmville, Fishville, Mafia Wars and a gizillion other quizzes on Facebook it is easy to fall pray to it. Heck I even see working people on Facebook.

Therefore I belive the easiest way to counter it is simply by setting a total time per day you want to be on Facebook. If you want to have 1.5 hours on Facebook per day, then divide it into 3 sessions of 30 minutes each.

In essence, this is similiar to the divide big jobs into small chunks idea.

So there you go. Mind you most of these ideas are extracted from Cal’s 2 books and only discussed in its essential form. For the first meeting, we should be dealing in detail the capture method that I, who have personally used it for 2 months now find it incredibly useful.

Some pictures stolen from the album. I forgot to take some photos during the meeting lol.

From left; Daniel, Rafique and Zaiffarally

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