By Diane Gibson
WGU Course Mentor, Teachers College
At WGU, each student is assigned a personal faculty member to work with them as a mentor throughout their time at WGU. Additionally, each course has its own course mentors, subject-matter experts who are available to help students get through course material. Advice from your mentors is invaluable as you make your way through your online degree program. But we also want you to benefit from the wisdom of mentors not necessarily assigned to you, so occasionally, The Night Owl features advice from WGU mentors in colleges throughout the university.
As the warmth of the summer months starts to hit, staying focused on school and timelines becomes much harder.
We have all faced the tough choice between sticking to our study time and playing with the kids who are off for summer vacation. This is the time when students often try to find shortcuts to getting the work done. To stay motivated, take this time to reflect about why you started this journey.
If I were to send out a survey asking each of you the reason you came to WGU, I would venture to say that not one of you would answer “to get a degree in Task 1.” No, most of you are going to say “to earn my degree in Accounting or Health Informatics or Elementary Education” or fill-in-the-blank. Your degree is more than just one task; it is the foundation and knowledge that you build through the Course of Study, the learning resources, and the interactions with your mentor and the course mentors.
But let’s face it. It is summer and the pool might seriously be calling your name even as you are reading this article. Right now, you’re struggling just to focus on how to get through that next task.
The following are the steps I talk to students about to help them approach their tasks in a more-effective and efficient manner, so they can build their foundational knowledge and show their competency the first time they submit the work.
First, open up the tasks that you will be required to do for the course.
- You do not have to go to Taskstream to find this information; in fact, I suggest that you stay out of Taskstream until you are ready to submit the work. Instead click on the assessment preparation link right above the start and end dates in your Course of Study. This will take you to a page where you can view all the task information for the course in which you are working. (Read the Taskstream Instructions in Courses of Study for additional information on how to access these tasks in the Course of Study.)
- Look at the competency at the top of the task. This will tell you the content that you will need to learn to complete the task.
Next, go to the Course of Study; find the section that discusses the competency. Often the Courses of Study are set up so the sections match the competencies that you must meet for the course. If this is not the case in your Course of Study, each section has an introduction/definition that will give you additional information.
If you are really stuck and cannot find the correct information use your resources:
- Contact the Course Mentor for the course and ask for help locating the correct materials to prepare for the task. This can be done through a phone call, email, or by setting up an appointment.
- Use the community for the course. Often there are recordings or additional resources to help you navigate your way through the information for the course.
After locating the correct section in the Course of Study for the competencies, learn the information. This means do all the readings and use all the learning resources for the task. It is a good idea to check the community for any extra stuff that the Course Mentors might have posted to help with the content if you have not already done this.
- Remember: If you put the work into learning the content on the front end of the task, you are going to have less work with revisions on the back end. Each Course of Study is designed to support the competencies so you know that the information is going to be there to help you build that knowledge. Just doing an Internet search could result in hours of time and often the wrong information.
Finally, go back to the task and read the directions. Compare the directions to the rubric and what you will be expected to show the evaluators to pass the task. Break the directions into small pieces and start to put the task together. Now that you have the foundational knowledge it should be easier to understand what is being asked in the directions.
- Use your resources again at this point. If you aren’t clear about the expectations, contact a course mentor to make sure you understand what is expected or check the communities for clarification.
If you approach the work in this manner, you will find that you have more confidence in your work because you will understand the language the task is using and what is being asked of you. During a time when you really want to be outside, having a more-efficient way to approach the task will keep you on track and still allow for some fun in the sun.