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Advanced Academic Strategies Workshop Series

The McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning is offering a series of hands-on, active, and process-focused workshops in which students learn and apply strategies designed expressly for the highly demanding Princeton University context. Led by McGraw's Associate Director, Nic Voge, the emphasis is on advanced and innovative techniques for purposeful and efficient learning. Students apply the strategies to their own course materials whenever possible during the workshops and, ideally, make a one-to-one follow-up appointment in The McGraw Center which builds upon what they learned in the workshop.

The strategies introduced emerge from a common core of research-based learning principles and comprise an integrated strategic approach. While each workshop can stand alone, the series is designed to build on itself and thus reinforce the core principles, and yet is sequenced to be responsive to the current demands of the semester (e.g. midterms).


Fall 2015 Workshops


Reading for Independent Work in the Social Sciences

In this 60 minute session, students will learn how to read effectively for their independent projects. We will focus on identifying the purpose of reading, sharing resources for where and how to find the appropriate readings, and by helping students try out some strategies for how to read. We ask that all participants bring an (unread) article or book chapter that they will need to complete for their independent work. This session is designed for juniors and seniors as well as advanced sophomores.
Tuesday, December 1, 8:00-9:00 p.m., 309 Frist Campus Center
RSVP to reserve a spot.

Balancing Work & Play During Winter Break

Lots to do? Limited time? Want to balance time with friends and family with getting ready for finals and deans date assignments? Come to this session to think through your demands and make a realistic plan for the break. You’ll get more done and enjoy the break more too.
Wednesday, Dec. 9, 9:00-10:00 p.m., Butler 028
RSVP to reserve a space.
Friday, Dec. 11, 2:00-3:00 p.m. in 330 Frist Campus Center
RSVP to reserve a space.                  



Making The Academic Transition To Princeton: Student Panel

Achieving success at Princeton requires that students adjust. Get strategies and advice for achieving balance and academic success from Princeton juniors and seniors. Learn about campus academic resources, too.

Succeeding in your Discussion-Based Class: How to Prepare and Engage in Seminars and Precepts

In this 60-minute session, students will learn how to succeed in discussion-based classes. Over dinner, we will outline and then practice strategies to help with three tasks commonly associated with such courses:
  • Managing reading assignments
  • Maximizing participation during class or precepts
  • Preparing to write papers.
Participants will also have time to reflect on what changes they would like to implement immediately.

Make the Most of your Textbook and Course Resources: Chemistry and Life Sciences

Textbooks in chemistry and the life sciences are common course resources. While they are assigned with the intent to assist the learning process, textbooks themselves can often become a challenge due to their dense text and the sheer amount of material. In this workshop, we will discuss how to most efficiently learn with a chemistry and life sciences textbook and associated reading assignments and importantly, how to use cues from lecture, precept, and assignments to guide our reading.

Mapping Your Semester for Balance and Success

Map out your semester from the very start! Balance academics with everything else Princeton has to offer. Learn about the biggest organizational and time management challenges from Princeton upperclassmen—so you can overcome them. Try out proven practical techniques and tools. Find out about fundamental principles of time management and self-management that allow you to adapt to new, unexpected situations. Prevent procrastination before it prevents you from getting things done!

Bring to the workshop the syllabi from each of your courses and leave with a useful toolkit for:

  • Efficiently schedule your whole semester
  • Manage time on a daily and weekly basis
  • Getting more out of your study time
  • Using to-do lists more effectively

This is an active, hands-on workshop in which you will apply strategies to YOUR own courses. Individualized follow-up appointments with staff in the McGraw Center in Frist can be arranged.


Make the Most of your Textbook and Course Resources: Physical Sciences and Mathematics

Textbooks can be underutilized resource in the physical sciences and mathematics due to their length and technical density, although they contain a vast wealth of information. In this informal dinner time workshop, we will go over common techniques for using textbooks in the physical sciences, particularly in:
  • Grasping the big picture
  • Building more practical tools for problem sets
Students will come away with techniques to best utilize their textbook and take on the semester!
(all students are encouraged to bring a textbook from one of their introductory physical science or mathematics courses to use as we go through our helpful techniques)

Efficient Learning Strategies: Managing Large Amounts of Information

Looking for more effective—and efficient—study strategies?  Because of the large amounts of information assigned and the compressed schedule of midterm exam week, you need to prioritize, organize and study course content as the course unfolds. Waiting until exam week to study just doesn’t work.  Learn several different study methods applicable to a variety of courses so that you can read, take lecture notes, and study more purposefully and efficiently in ALL of your courses.

Advanced Reading & Learning from Text Strategies

Learn How to Maximize Your Reading Efficiency!  To achieve academic success at Princeton it is crucial for students to develop superior strategies for reading and learning from text. In this workshop you will learn:
  • an approach that helps you align your learning strategies to instructor objectives
  • techniques for reading various kinds of academic texts
  • strategies for enhancing retention and recall
  • methods for reading faster and more efficiently
This is an active, hands-on workshop in which you will learn specific strategies by applying them.

Understanding and Overcoming Procrastination

Is procrastination an obstacle to maintaining balance and achieving academic success?
If so, you are not alone.  Up to 80% of college students report that procrastination has been a significant issue. Procrastination is not a matter of mere “laziness” and the solution is not simply “better time management”. In order to overcome procrastination it is vital that you understand its root causes and motivational dynamics. It is also vital to learn an array of (sometimes counter-intuitive) strategies and techniques for dealing with it.
In this workshop you will:
  • Gain a deeper awareness of what procrastination is and why people do it
  • Understand the motivational dynamics and mind games that perpetuate procrastination
  • Learn a variety of techniques for managing procrastination.
All participants can arrange individualized follow-up appointments at:

Time Management for Princeton

Princeton academics and extracurriculars pose unique time management challenges and offer incredible opportunities. Enhance your time (and task) management strategies so that you can have the kind of Princeton experience you want and achieve your most important goals while finding balance. This is an active, hands-on workshop in which you will learn specific strategies by applying them.  

Effective Midterm Exam Preparation Strategies

 Ready for your midterms? In this workshop you will learn proven methods for:
  • Anticipating and preparing for the kind of problems and questions you will be expected to answer on exams.
  • Selecting and prioritizing the most important information in your courses.
  • Synthesizing and reducing large amounts of information from multiple sources into manageable formats.
  • Organizing your knowledge in ways that promote deep learning, retention, and efficient recall.
This is an active hands-on workshop in which you will work on materials from YOUR own current courses. So, bring a syllabus or two and any other information from your courses such as previous exams (check Blackboard) that might be useful in preparing for midterms.          

Post-MidTerm Reflection: (Re)Planning for Academic Success

Many students find adjusting to the examination styles of each new course to be challenging, and it is usually around midterm time that this realization sets in. Turn the "shock" of midterms into a successful learning experience by reflecting, evaluating, and strategizing for the future. Join us for this Midterms Reflection Workshop.  Together we will:   
  • Reflect on the midterm experience: what you learned, how you felt, what you would like to work on. 
  • Discuss ways to adjust your mindset and approach to the course.
  • Learn how to evaluate your test results in a practical and constructive manner for future success. 
  • Develop strategies for academic success in the remainder of the semester.

Seeing what is there: Effective Strategies for Getting Past Academic Frustration

Struggling with writer's block? Clueless about what your assigned reading is saying? Do your data and graphs just don't make any sense? Analysis paralysis is a common problem in an academic setting, and the sheer amount of information to process can be overwhelming. This problem can stem from our thinking too much about our work instead of seeing what is there. In this workshop we will learn to break these distracting cognitive habits by directly observing what is present in images, graphs, and text. By the end of this workshop, you will have a powerful set of tools to break through academic frustration by asking the simple question, "What do I see?"

Become your own MATLAB coach! – MATLAB for Novices and Beginners

If  you are new to MATLAB or finding difficulty communicating through MatLab's interface, this McGraw Center workshop is for you! This hour and a half interactive session will begin with developing a toolkit of problem-solving strategies and resources that you can use on a variety of code-based problems. We will then implement these tools on a series of problems to help foster a foundation for introductory programming and more confidence during troubleshooting. The ultimate goal of this workshop is to empower students like you to become both your own tutor and advocate.