Coursework students

When you come to ANU, whether you're arriving from another country, an Australian secondary school, the workforce, or any other pathway, you'll face a period of adjustment to the 'ANU culture'. A vital thing to remember during this adjustment period is that things may be different at ANU compared to your past experiences. Being aware of the differences can help you to develop strategies that will assist you during your studies.

Two of the key points of adjustment that you might face are:

  1. Adjusting to academic expectations
  2. Taking control of your own learning

First, you'll need to gain awareness of academic expectations. Here, lecturers will regard you as a member or potential member of your chosen academic field. So, your work will need to demonstrate the conventions that are specific to that field. The purpose of academia is to produce and share knowledge, and your role as a student is to learn how your chosen field produces and shares this knowledge. In other words, while you are at ANU, you are learning how to be an independent professional in your field.

ANU offers a diverse range of courses, and this means that you might belong to many different fields. For instance, you may be enrolled in a Science degree. In the four units you take in first year - Maths, Chemistry, Physics and Biology - your different lecturers will regard you variously as a potential mathematician, chemist, physicist or biologist. So you need to learn how to be a physicist, as opposed to being a biologist as you shift from lecture to lecture, assignment to assignment.

Since every field has its own specific way of conducting and presenting research, part of your learning experience will be getting to know the expectations and conventions in your chosen fields. A good place to start is by looking at your course outlines and the information that they have about your assessment items. What kinds of assessment do you have to do? What guidelines can you follow? What do your lecturers expect to see in good pieces of work? When you know what your markers are looking for, this makes it easier to identify what you are supposed to do.

One example of academic conventions is that if you're working in two different disciplinary areas, you'll use different referencing conventions: in Psychology, you use the American Psychological Association (APA) referencing style, but in Law, you use the Australian Guide to Legal Citation (AGLC). If you want to find out more about referencing please see the how referencing works.

Secondly, at ANU it is your responsibility to manage your own learning. In practical terms this means that it is up to you to remember when your assignments are due, when and where your classes are held, and which readings and work you need to do each week. To keep up to date with your work, you will need to manage your own time and plan ahead, particularly when it comes to exam preparation. On this site we have a range of planners to assist you in doing this.

Managing your own learning also means that it is up to you to learn the material. Lecturers may provide you with some resources such as required readings and lecture notes, but you will probably need to do further research to develop and supplement your knowledge. Reading and note-taking strategies can assist you with this.

Taking advantage of the opportunities you're given to participate in class is also vital to your learning. You will experience a variety of classroom settings, where you are expected to participate. For example, in tutorials you may discuss ideas and engage in activities with your peers and the tutor, in laboratories you might conduct experiments, in lectures you might contribute to a large group discussion in answer to questions that the lecturer poses, and in seminars you might be tasked to lead the class conversation. In each of these cases, it's useful to have strategies to participate.

When it comes to doing your assignments, you will also find it useful to know in advance what is expected of you at ANU. In addition to receiving information about the task from your lecturers or supervisors, you can get guidance from ASLC. Whether it's about essay writing, structuring laboratory reports, developing and delivering presentations, writing reflective narratives, critically reviewing academic arguments, or thesis writing, we're here to help. Our appointments, drop-ins, resources, and workshops offer you strategies on how to successfully and persuasively present your arguments and key messages within your work. We can also assist you with a broad range of study strategies.

Since it is up to you to manage your own learning, it is important to develop strategies that work to assist you in getting to know your field and producing assessment items that are appropriate for your field. Our resources can help you to develop strategies for understanding your academic culture.

Finally, there are people and services to help you succeed: teaching staff within your courses, college and central student administration, and central student services such as us.