Studying Psychology 2.0 Series: Online Vs. Campus
Last time, I highlighted that online learning and studying counseling psychology go well together with no cutbacks on the quality of the education. However, there are major structural differences between studying online and studying on-campus. In order to create a rewarding online experience and achieve positive results students should be aware of and practice a number of organizing and personal skills.
There are general skills that students need to be equipped with such as being confident with working and researching on the Internet and interacting within web-based classrooms. Being techie-savvy helps but, given the simplified structures of most online accounts and classrooms, it is no longer an inevitable necessity.
Soft skills, in particular time and self-management skills, are more important in determining whether or not you will excel at studying online. Many students opt for studying online because of convenience and the flexibility that hybrid models offer (Rakes, Dunn, & Rakes, 2013). But this very convenience can easily become a slippery slope if you find yourself at risk for procrastination. Procrastination has been found to negatively influence participation in online classrooms. Therefore it aversively impacts your grades (Michinov, Brunot, Le Bohec, Juhel, & Delaval, 2011).
Ask yourself; do you believe that you perform best under high pressure and with end-of-deadlines looming? Or do you oftentimes find yourself being too busy doing a lot of unnecessary things in order to avoid the tasks you should ‘actually’ be doing; such as doing laundry when you are supposed to hand in an assignment? If you answer these questions with yes, chances are that you are prone to procrastinating. You may also want to take this self-test after Tuckman to further identify your tendency to procrastination.
Luckily procrastination is a nasty habit that one can easily get a grip on by following certain behavior modifications:
1) Start defining your study goals using the 3-Ms technique. Like with everything else, having goals that are set too high is likely to frustrate you or increase the likelihood of procrastinating. Those who have ever tried to loose 20 pounds of weight within 4 weeks know exactly how that feels like. Instead of loosing weight you are likely to find yourself eating a chocolate bar after a couple of days, because your weight loss program was too stringent providing little motivation for the long run. The same principle applies to studying online. If you set your goals too high you will easily get discouraged once you fail to live up to your high expectations or you will lack the motivation to start studying. On the other hand if you set your goals too low your grades may suffer or you may easily get distracted. Utilizing the 3Ms-technique means to ensure that your study goals are:
- Measurable – Good goals are specific, time-referenced, and measureable (i.e., studying chapter 9 over the weekend instead of studying over the weekend)
- Motivating – Good goals should motivate you and should provide you with a sense of achievement (i.e. studying chapter 9 in two study blocks a 45 minutes over the weekend instead of studying chapter 9 all at once)
- Manageable – Good goals also are feasible. When setting manageable goals think about how situational and personal factors might intervene with your ability to conduct the tasks needed to reach your goal. (i.e. objectively evaluate how your commitments over the weekend impact your ability to study chapter 9)
To further elevate your commitment to your goals apply the following set of behavior to your study routine. Having dedicated a particular timeframe to study use the ten minutes beforehand to set up your study area. Remove any distractions (i.e. place your phone in a drawer or cut the internet off if you decided to study a book chapter) and alert your environment that you are going to study if need be. Use this time to physically and psychologically prepare yourself. Do the same for ending your study block. Dedicate a certain amount of time to review what you have studied and leave proper notes to easily continue the next time.
These guidelines are especially important for students studying online because you do not need to ensure your attendance to classes at fixed times. You also do not have a fixed campus routine either. More to the point, some online courses only have a single deadline at the very end of each module (as opposed to multiple or weekly deadlines) providing you with maximum temptation to postpone all necessary work to the very last minute; thereby jeopardizing your grades.
Keeping Benjamin Franklin’s words “You may delay, but time will not” in mind and reviewing the recommendations provided will help you to fully enjoy the experience of studying counseling psychology online without getting hassled by imminent deadlines or the pitfalls of total flexibility.
Once you feel confident that you have the skill set needed to successfully master studying counseling psychology via a distant learning program, it is time to examine how to find the right university for you. A good starting point for that is the list of online programs: Masters, PhD; providing you with detailed tuition and contact information.
Michinov, N., Brunot, S., Le Bohec, O., Juhel, J., & Delaval, M. (2011). Procrastination, participation, and performance in online learning environments. Computers & Education, 56, 243-252.
Rakes, G. C., Dunn, K. E., & Rakescvvhny bhrt, T. R. (April 2013). Attribution as a predictor of procrastination in online graduate students. Journal of Interactive Online Learning, 12 (3), 103-121
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