Carnegie Mellon University

Eberly Center

Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation

Study Tips

When sharing study tips in your syllabus, consider addressing questions such as:

  • What should students do to succeed in class?
  • What help can they expect to get during office hours or by email?
  • Can you provide a rationale (potentially even backed by research) for why your advice should work?

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Study Tips for Stats 201 or How to Use Your Study Time More Efficiently

  1. Read your lecture notes over within 24 hours of lecture (or at least once before the next lecture).
    • Highlight or make marginal notes for important words or concepts. This will help fix ideas and will help you to actively learn the material.  This review takes about 20-30 minutes and really yields a large return.
    • Re-do examples yourself, step by step, with pencil and paper. Examples often look easy when explained in class, but often turn out to be much harder when you do them yourself.
    • Write down questions about things you do not understand. Bring these questions to lecture, lab, and to office hours and ask them.
  2. Readings are assigned for each class.  Read them - if not before the class for which they are assigned then certainly after that class and before the next.  Also, as you read, highlight, re-work examples yourself, and write down questions, as suggested above.
  3. DO HOMEWORK PROBLEMS.  Actively doing problems is the only way to learn the material.  Exam questions will be similar to homework problems.
    • Start early. Do not leave assignments until the night before they are due.
    • Try doing the problems yourself before discussing them with other people.
  4. Use office hours productively.  Ask thoughtful questions about things that you do not understand.  In other words, if you do (1)-(3) above, it will be much easier to isolate what is giving you trouble.  Please take advantage of the availability of office hours.
  5. Review solutions to assignments and exams.  Just because you do not lose points on a homework question does not necessarily mean you fully understand the question and answer.  Also, the solutions should serve as a model for how to write, using proper sentences and paragraphs, discussions and interpretations of data analyses.
  6. We will make every effort to help you learn the course material, but you must also make an effort to utilize the resources that are made available to help you.  Please come talk to us – not only when you are having trouble but also when things are going well.

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How to Get Help

Since the teaching staff for this class is large, you might wonder who you should see about what.  Here are some general guidelines.

  • Clarifications on the homework: If the question does not give away any of the solution, you should post the question on the course discussion bulletin board.  Simply click on the Communication button and follow the link to the Discussion Board.  If you have the question, probably someone else in the class does too, so posting to the bboard will help everybody.  The course staff reads the bulletin board regularly and will try to answer your question as soon as possible.  It is also possible that a fellow student will have the answer and can respond.  If the question requires giving away part of the solution, send one of the TA’s email or see one of the course staff during office hours.
  • You need help on the homework or class material:  Talk with the member of the course staff in the cluster, send one of the TAs or instructors email, or see any of the TAs or instructors during their office hours.  Please don’t feel intimidated about going to office hours.  We are all here to help you.
  • Questions about your grade on a homework: See (or send email to) the TA in charge of the assignment.  Your recitation instructor will know which TA is in charge of which assignment.
  • Questions about your grade on a quiz or test: See your recitation instructor. You can send email or come by during office hours.
  • The course is taking too much of your time: This course is supposed to take, on average, 12 hours per week.  If on average you are spending significantly more than this, we want to know.  Please send one of the instructors an email message telling them.  Sometimes it is hard for us to judge the difficulty of an assignment and your message lets us know when there is a problem.
  • General academic questions: The course staff is happy to answer general academic questions, such as “is it worth it for me to take 15-212?” You should catch one of us after class or recitation, or see us during office hours.

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