By Zack Cowen
Dr. Mario Ciani, Assistant Professor of biology, hosted a study skills session for students interested in improving their grades in the science courses last month, and his advice was simple and blunt: know thy self.
The most important advice Ciani stated to his students was that they had to be responsible for themselves and their actions. For example, Ciani relates the story of a famous experiment from quantum physics, called the double-slit experiment. Electrons were fired through a slit that hit a back wall, which resulted in an interference pattern. However, when the electrons were fired again under observation, the electrons formed a pattern based on the slits. Because of the presence of the observer, the electrons broke down into a recognizable pattern, showing how observers have control over more than they think.
It is that kind of attitude that is paramount to Ciani.
“No matter what happens, people will succeed or fail based on how much they are willing to take on. Making excuses is a way to try to pass on responsibility that is ultimately yours,” he said.
Although Ciani stresses the importance of responsibility, leading to that is a good attitude towards oneself that commands good results. He claims if people think they are not going to do well, then chances are good that that they will not do well. For Ciani, good attitude means having a good amount of confidence in oneself, though not to the point that a person loses their humility.
“The key is to think positive and not let fears or worries take up space in your mind. Doing so will cause you to lose the positive attitude you’ve built up for yourself. Even if you do not succeed, just keep pushing onward,” he adds.
Other essential pieces of advice include the need to put in the study time, being sure to “read the professor,” participating in class and implementing study skills. When it comes to putting in the necessary time for studying, the more a person sets up the study time and follows through on it, the easier it becomes. Reading the professor is paying as close attention to what the professor says and asking yourself, “If I were the teacher, what would I ask of the students?”, instead of relying on the syllabus to figure out what will be discussed in class.
Participating in class works both ways. By asking questions and speaking with the teacher, a student builds up knowledge (the answer to the question) and appreciation from the teacher. By asking questions, the student shows interest in understanding the material and whatit offers. Developing study skills is the most flexible, as many people work in different ways, but there are two obvious prerequisites: Don’t miss class, and practice the Greek slogan: know thyself.
He added, “Missing class affects all the previous aspects, because you’re not responsible, you need a better attitude, and you can’t read your professor. If you don’t know yourself, you can’t figure out what motivates you and drives you to become better.”