DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

The Reflective Student

Written by: on October 11, 2016

The Reflective Student

“Learning to study is essentially a do-it-yourself operation. You’ll get ideas from this book. You’ll get even more from teachers and fellow-students. But, in the end, it’s up to you. You need to be able to reflect on your own experience of studying and decide what changes of approach might best suit you.” (p. viii)

This little paragraph contains many of the concepts we’ve already touched on in our studies.

Since 1970 Professor Rowntree’s book has been used by millions of students around the world. One of the surprising things to me was that through all of the editions (the current one being the 5th edition) he has not changed his method much. The newest edition (which I downloaded on Kindle for free) compares word for word in most places with my own 1988, 3rd edition book.

In the 5th edition he does touch on Kindle, but has the same complaint I do – weird page breaks.

My point here is that if his method has gone through 5 editions with very little change, it must be really good!! (Yeah, yeah I did read the whole thing. Sorry)

Even though we did not get our Master’s Degrees not knowing how to study, I still think it was worthwhile to get this expert’s advice on study. It was a good review and there were places where I did spend some time reflecting.

  • We have discussed how to read a book (Adler) and how to try and approach a book with the idea of getting out of it what is really important, even if it means breaking free of the guilt of not reading a book word-for-word (Bayard). Now Rowntree reminds us that there is “quite a bit to be said about reading carefully.” (p. 89) He is not contradicting Adler or Bayard. Rowntree has already stated that “The name of the game is selectivity.” (p. 4) Faced with my 2-foot high pile of books for this semester, I will try and break free of my angst about not reading a book cover for cover. Ok, ok, I get it. It’ll be hard, but I’ll do it. Honestly, I know that I’ll drown it I don’t.
  • Rowntree constantly reminds us to interact with our fellow students. We talked about this in our “chat” and I think it is important. The knowledge that is “in you” (p. 28) reminds me of the “inner book” of Bayard. We share this with others. It is really what we will remember the most.
  • Much of the process – understanding my situation, getting organized, developing a strategy (SQ3R), reading actively, using good listening skills, taking good notes and then turning it all into good essays and preparation for exams – I have been doing for many years. One area I did extra reflection in was the area of taking notes.
    I have been taking notes in the “skeleton style” for probably my whole life, but if there is a more efficient way, I’m open. This is a part of the book I definitely did not skim. After carefully studying the three basic methods, I am sticking with my own.

One question I had was, “How can computer based aids help with this?” I’m still taking notes the old-fashioned way. Does anyone use Evernote or the Brain (a brainstorming method)? Do any of you use the “spray method”? How does that work for you?

I agree that learning how to study is more than just the methods. It is “a matter of getting wiser about learning and understanding. … It’s how to learn about life.” (p. 28)


About the Author

Mary Walker

12 responses to “The Reflective Student”

  1. Hi Mary,
    I believe you will be able to read more selective and be able to effectively prepare your papers.
    As far as computer aids, I use whatever is convenient at the time. I have used microsoft word with the captive screening option, I have handwritten, used color notes on my phone that can be synced and emailed, and sometimes one notes. I have reviewed others: google notes, evernotes, etc. I don’t have the mental capacity to study something new right now because of too many resources to read.
    Just do what’s comfortable to you and during our semester break, take some time to find something that works. Right now, we got have too much on our plate. smile

    • Mary Walker says:

      Thank you, Lynda. You are so right. I just don’t have time to learn Evernote right now. I will be happy just to get through this first semester. You are such an encourager!!

  2. “There is no point in trying to produce your own handmade mini-version of a book or lecture or website…The amount of notes you make should depend on your purpose in making them” (Kindle, 294)

    I have not used the brainstorming or spider/spray diagram method in a long time. I typically take outline style notes. I like the tree like structure of organizing my thoughts. I like how Rountree said that we should not be trying to rewrite the books that we read but take notes with an intended purpose for use. That was really helpful for me in making sure I am capturing the necessary information and not including extra “noise”.

    I have used a variety of electronic notation tools. One that I am using quite a bit is Google Keep (thanks to Chip for the recommendation). I have chosen this tool because it syncs with any Android device. So I can use it on my laptop, tablet and phone. This is really helpful when I do not have my laptop available I can always refer to my notes on my phone or vice versa.

    I have used Evernote in the past but it didn’t really stick for me like using Google Keep.

    Either way find one that works for you and use it. you can even watch demos of the various tools on YouTube.

  3. Stu Cocanougher says:

    I have been using a the GRAMMERLY plugin for Google Chrome. I have always said that “you cannot effectively proof read your own work.” Grammerly has caught several mistakes in these blog posts before I have posted them.

    • Mary Walker says:

      Thanks, Stu. I think Katy also uses Chrome. I need to look into that. I never heard of it before but it seems that several bibliography/cite aids use it too. It might be worthwhile to take time and learn about it. Perhaps it will save me time over the next 3 years. (and going forward after that?!)

  4. Jim Sabella says:

    I too use Grammarly. It helps a lot and catches “most” of my grammar and spelling mistakes—some always slip through. I have also used an app called Scrivener for years. I used it to write my Mth thesis and other longer documents. However, I still use handwritten notes when I’m trying to organize my life—Bullet Journalling is one system. However, I have found myself spending time on finding the “right” system when I could be “getting the writing done,”— any excuse not to write! 🙂 In the end, whatever gets the writing done is the right one.

    • Mary Walker says:

      Thank you, Jim. Of course you are write. (ha ha) Anyway, I will look into Chrome and Grammerly. It seems they will make life easier. And at my age it seems that it may take longer to learn a whole new program like Evernote than to just keep doing what has made me successful in the past. I really appreciate the encouragement.

  5. Geoff Lee says:

    I enjoy your thoughts and your writing Mary – I am very glad you are part of our cohort with your life experience and insights. I struggle with adopting technology and have to keep asking my kids for help. I am using Zotero to keep track of web pages and citations. I also save articles and PDF files to GoodReader to read. For some stuff I will just keep files and folders in Word! I am sure we will all find our own system that works for us!

  6. I really like the way you spell out your thoughts here and weave in the thoughts of Rowntree and the others we have read, Mary. I also love that you, again, read the whole book and took the time to compare versions! I know there will be times when you can’t do this but, while I’m skimming and picking, I think about you and know I can contact you if I am lost or confused. 🙂
    As far as technology goes, I have tried all sorts of things but can’t seem to break away from hand-written research notes. I seem to learn and retain information better when I actually write it. I do type lecture notes in a variety of formats, but for hard-core research I have use pencil and a graph-paper notebook. I then go back through and highlight, post-it note, and mark up those notes in preparation for writing. Old school, I know, but it works for me.

  7. mm Katy Lines says:

    Hi Mary– Yes, I use Chrome, but haven’t used Grammerly. Chrome is just a browser, like Firefox or Explorer; one advantage to using it is the plug-ins for it (like Grammerly or Zotero).
    When taking notes, I’m still fairly “old-fashioned.” Depending on where I am and if it’s my own book or not, I’ll write in/underline within the book or take notes in Word on my computer or Notes on my iPhone. And the new update on iPhone notes allows photos to be added, so if it’s a long quote, I’ll just post a photo of the page(s).
    I don’t use Evernote, although I’ve heard great reviews of it; mostly, I’m just content to do it the way I’ve been doing it.
    That said, I do use Zotero to keep track of my bibliography. It’s easy to use and connects with Amazon and Worldcat libraries. As the others have said, I’ve found some things that work for me and am comfortable using, so that’s what I stick with.

  8. “It’s how to learn about life…” There are so many ways to learn about life, and so many methods to learn about life. The key is just to keep learning. That’s what all the books keep telling us- don’t stop learning and learn how you learn best. Great summaries I like how you tied all the books together.

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