Engagement and Study Skills

Participating in Lecturers and Tutorials

It can be daunting to participate in class or online if English is not your first language or if you are unsure of some of the cultural differences or etiquette in your new study environment.

You can quickly learn what is expected of you and begin to enjoy taking an active part in class or group work. Remember that the diversity of your experience means you have a lot to offer.

  • Always attend lectures! It can be really easy to skip them if you don’t push yourself to go. Lecturers often give extra information that isn’t in the notes, so it’s worth turning up.
  • Don’t worry too much about your accent. Native English speakers have lots of different accents that even they find hard to understand. (First language - Korean)
  • Say something and ask questions in lectures and tutorials. Don’t be shy to speak up or afraid to contribute even if you’re unsure, it shows that you are interested and serious.
  • You are allowed to ask questions. The lecturers and tutors are happy for you to ask questions if you are not sure about something. Other students might be secretly glad you asked the question they were too shy to ask.
  • There is no such thing as a silly question.
  • Always read the readings and references before classes, which you can get from vUWS. That way you have a better idea what is being said. (First language - Mandarin)

Time Management and Study Strategies

Learning new things and studying in a different language takes extra energy, concentration and time.

These time management and study tips from experienced students can help you to make the most of your time and energy as you study at Western Sydney University.

  • Being serious about your studies can make your time as a student more enjoyable.

  • Devote time to understand the wording used in essay questions, match the word with the correct definition. Understanding of the terminology is a crucial part in finding the correct answers. (First language – Arabic)

  • If you are stuck for ideas go back to your Subject Outline and Learning Guide. These will remind you of the key ideas and outcomes you are striving for in each subject.

  • Break assignments down into smaller bits to be more achievable.

  • To avoid stress think of study like a game. Take it seriously but remember to enjoy the experience.

  • Digest new knowledge immediately. Don’t put it off because next week there will be a whole lot more to work through.

  • Do the work of preparation – e.g. reading for assignments before you start writing them.

  • Always get a friend or family member to read through assignments. They can see things that you might have missed.

  • Learn to use spell check. English spelling can be strange but the spell check tool can help so you don’t lose marks unnecessarily.

  • Check everything and then check again. Especially online – make sure that the thing has actually been submitted.

  • Do not try to cram, plan ahead! Do topics that you are having problems with and discuss with friends to exchange ideas. (First language - Tagalog)

  • Make good use of travel time. You can study on a bus or train.

  • Do not leave studying and assignments to the last minute.

  • Learn to love the Library

  • Be organised, this will help keep you stay sane during busy assessment periods. Get your references and sources sorted as soon as possible.

  • Stay up to date with the materials of each subject, otherwise you will get behind and it is very hard to catch up.

  • Mature age students – try studying together. It can be helpful to study with other students who are of a similar age and who bring different life experiences to the group discussions.

  • Look for peer mentoring opportunities. Other successful students can help you and then, when you get experience in your subjects you can help the new students.

Referencing - Students Speak from Experience

  1. Write up your references as you go. That way you will not lose important reference details and you won’t have a horrible, big task to complete at the end of your assignment.
  2. Make sure you know the correct referencing style for each of your subjects. Check that you are using correct style with each Subject Outline and remember not to mix them up.
  3. Referencing and citation is essential in academic writing. Begin preparing references for your assignments early and use the University Library web guide to help you.
  4. If your subject uses Australian Psychological Association referencing buy an APA Style Guide and keep it next to your computer. If your program uses this referencing, it is very demanding but your marks will be better if you get your referencing right. For information about other referencing styles, see the Style Guide.
  5. Never forget or leave referencing to the last minute. It is too easy to lose your reference sources or page numbers if you leave it til the last minute.

Western Sydney U Tip

Referencing can be tedious but, if you put in the time and get it right, these will be the easiest marks you can earn. Remember, not all subjects use the same referencing style. Check the subject outline for every subject.

University Library staff are happy to help you to find the information and resources you need for your subject requirements. You can also find style guides for the most commonly used citation styles within the University on the Library website – Library referencing guide.

Turnitin is a software program that checks assignments for plagiarism. Find out more about Turnitin.

Avoiding plagiarism: Plagiarism is the unauthorised use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of those words or thoughts as one’s own original work. Plagiarism is a form of stealing.

Plagiarism is considered to be academic misconduct. If you are caught plagiarising, you will be subject to disciplinary action. Incorrect or insufficient referencing may be seen as plagiarism, so make sure you reference correctly.