Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Tips for new student midwives: academic studies

Here in the southern hemisphere, we are just starting our new academic year. And following my recent post on student midwives and their blogs, I have been thinking about what tips I would pass on to new student midwives. The tips I came up with seem to fall into three categories which I will turn into separate posts over the next few days: academic, clinical and life management.

So as far as the academic aspect of midwifery education goes, here are my tips:

1. Read, read, read! Reading will broaden your knowledge and gives depth to your academic writing. Even when you are pressed for time and reading seems to be a luxury that you cannot afford, it pays off in the end. Get into the habit of spending a couple of hours every month looking through the latest journals and books in the library, as well as online resources.

2. Have a critical friend who looks at your work from both a midwifery perspective and also as an editor. Submitting work that has spelling, grammar and punctuation errors influences the marker in a negative way - even if the content is great, presentation errors will lose you marks.

3. Don't procrastinate! Manage your time so that you are not working on assignments right at the last minute - in this case, it's a matter doing what I say, not what I do! Every time you get an extension, you put pressure on future work. If you leave things to the last minute, you will not present quality work and will not be able to cope with last minute hold ups like illness, computer break down or a call out to a pregnant woman.

4. Make sure you stick to your institution's reference guidelines - I know it seems ridiculous that lecturers get hung up on where you put one little full stop, but it is a means to preventing plagiarism. I have found that using a reference manager like Endnote is great for organizing and recording my references.

5. Do not ever be be tempted into plagiarism because it is viewed as a heinous crime by academic institutions. This includes repeating/copying your own work from assignment to assignment.

What other tips would you pass on to midwifery students to help them with their studying?

Image: 'Recent Ancient Learning'


mammal said...

there are loads of open source alternatives to endnote:

and getting in touch with LaTex is always a good idea in an academic environment.


Sarah Stewart said...

Thanks a lot, mammal - that's fantastic!

I might be showing my ignorance, but what is LaTex?

mammal said...

"LaTeX is a document preparation system for high-quality typesetting. It is most often used for medium-to-large technical or scientific documents but it can be used for almost any form of publishing.
LaTeX is not a word processor! Instead, LaTeX encourages authors not to worry too much about the appearance of their documents but to concentrate on getting the right content."
it's not a wordprocessor, but there are several tools that help you use LaTex as an almost WYSIWYG-like environment.
here in germany LaTex is widely used at unversities in mathematics and informatics, and if i was a student, i'd learn LaTex, as it's the best way to write your scientific papers in a neat and professional way. plus there are so many plugins for pdf export and dozens more useful things and all free as in free beer!!
(seems to be my computer evangelist day today, i need to get my baby out so i cannot hang in front of the computer all day ;-)

Sarah Stewart said...

I'll have to look into this, mammal. Meantime, looking forward to hearing all about this lovely baby when he/she arrives!

mammal said...

nothing new on the baby front, had my last regular midwife appointment today and the head is still a bit loose in the pelvis, i guess i have to wait a little longer.
anyhow, this offers the opportunity for me to go and watch some live rugby tomorrow and a whole evening of 6ns on telly. maybe another french win will give the baby the push... (i'm hoping for italy to win, but a french win seems more realistic).
i bought the baby a rugby jersey today and am thinking of stitching "my mom can tackle your mom" on the back...

Sarah Stewart said...

Love the rugby jersey idea!!!!

We have our first Highlanders home game in a couple of weeks but I have no one to go with as everyone is working, so not too sure about what to do. Also, it did clash with Carolyn's Second Life midwifery meeting, but she has changed the date so I can go to the rugby-so I'd better go or else she will be cross!

rae said...

another idea - do try to look at your assignments etc as learning tools not just as a means to crossing an assessment off the "to do" list. Readand reflect on the feedback you are given by the lecturer/marker - (you pay big fees for this one on one expert teaching/learning!). Take the feedback forward with you to your next assignment. It is amazing how many students carry on making the same errors - as if they didn't even read the feedback.

Sarah Stewart said...

That's a really good tip, Rae, and should have been on my list.