Now that you know what your Goals, Tasks, and Resources are, you can begin to plan out who you will tackle the course by building a Study Plan. The Study Plan will help you take the Tasks you identified and make some time each week to ensure you complete them. Every Study Plan has three elements:
The key to a successful Study Plan is having a clear sense of your priorities. In setting your priorities, focus on the Tasks using the following guidelines:
- Which tasks are most important for meeting the goals?
- Which tasks are most important to your overall grade?
- Which tasks have specific deadlines? Are there any suggested deadlines?
- Which tasks are Feedback Tasks? Which are Evaluation Tasks?
How do you know the difference between Feedback Tasks and Evaluation Tasks?
The next step is to know your deadlines.
- Evaluation Tasks (see above) almost always have formal deadlines, such as the last day of the unit in which they are due.
- Feedback Tasks have less formal deadlines, which means you should set the deadlines yourself, based on when you need the Feedback.
For instance, you know that your unit includes a writing assignment, an Evaluation Task, that is due on Sunday night, the final day of that unit. Your unit also includes a quiz, which is only 2 percent of your grade, and several discussion questions, which are graded on participation. Since the quiz and discussion questions, both Feedback Tasks, help you review material that you will need to cover in your writing assignment, you know you need to complete these in time to being work on your writing assignment. Thus, you might want to be sure you begin working on the discussion questions by Wednesday and complete the quiz on Thursday. (Note: Several instructors may strongly suggest that you post your initial response to all discussion questions no later than Wednesday or Thursday, which leaves plenty of time for you and your classmates to read and respond to each other.)
Once you know your deadlines and your priorities, set aside some time during the unit to work on each task.
Here are some guidelines to keep in mind as you build your weekly schedule.
- Complete your Feedback Tasks first, even if you have to complete them quickly. This will ensure you get a chance to check your understanding of the material before you do any evaluation tasks.
- Make time to respond to the ongoing discussion of your discussion questions at least three times during each unit (try to make your first time no later than Wednesday).
- When you respond to discussion questions, don’t try to make every post perfect or worry too much about being right. With discussions, it’s more important to get feedback, contribute constructively to giving feedback to others, and explore what you are learning than to be perfectly correct. Try to always schedule one or two hours three times a week for your class discussions and do as much as you can during these times.
- Always make time to do at least two drafts of any Evaluation Tasks due at the end of the week, especially if they involve a lot of writing. Try to do the drafts on two different days (for instance, Friday night and Saturday or Sunday afternoon). This will help you gain a fresh perspective on your work.
- Schedule some time at least twice a week after you have completed your reading to take notes and explore the ideas. This will help you on all your tasks for each unit.
- Try these guidelines on how much time to schedule for activities, though remember they will vary for each course:
- 3-5 hours a week to participate in discussion
- 1 hour for seminar
- 30 minutes for a short quiz (10-15 questions)
- 1 hour (approximately) for each 15-20 pages of reading and making notes
- 2 hours for each draft of a writing assignment.
- Take some time each week to work on any midterm and final projects you might have.
Want to see an example of setting up a scheduled Study Plan based on deadlines and priorities?