Learning Commons
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Academic Resources, Theories, Skills, & Strategies

The LC has developed a list of guides and resources to help you meet your academic goals. These are proven methods to improve. If you would like help figuring out which resources to use for your personal best, feel free to schedule an appointment with an Academic Coach.

Take our Academic Skills survey to see what skills you're doing well in and which skills an Academic Coach can help you improve on.

  • Managing Stress During COVID-19

    "We (all of us) are currently going through a collective traumatic experience. Trauma is often thought of as "too much, too fast"... which is exactly what's happening. Of course you're exhausted. Of course you're afraid. Of course you're overwhelmed. Of course you're clinging to certainty in the midst of so much unknown. Of course you aren't as productive, feeling foggy, or wondering how you can possibly go through so many waves of emotions all in the same day. This all makes so much sense in the context of our circumstances. Be gentle with yourself. Have compassion for your process. Give yourself grace. You are good, no matter how you are managing this completely new expereince."

    -Liza Olivera, Therapist

    Top 3 Tips to Endure Anxiety During the Time of Pandemic

    From Dr. Luana Marques, Expert in Health Anxiety states:

    1) Embrace discomfort: "We're all biologically wired to push away our emotions. Yet, science teaches us the fighting our fear or anxiety actually makes things worse. Think about it this way: we're all riding a large wave of strong emotions right now and the worst thing any of us can do is come off that surfboard on the top of a wave. We need to let the wave bring us to shore. How do we embrace discomfort? One simple way is to label our emotions. By labeling emotions, we know that we can cool off our brains and be able to ride that wave to shore."

    2) Face facts and plan: "Right now we are inundated with a lot of information. The first thing we need to do is anchor ourselves on reliable types of information, like the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Using that information will allow us to do the second thing, which is to plan for our new normal. By planning our new normal, we're able to help our brain predict a little more of what's happening and to cool off. One important thing to remember is as you plan your new routine, as you're working from home, make sure you're adding things that are good for your body and for your mind: exercising, eating regularly, connecting with others. These things not only bring down your health anxiety, but also help you to boost your immunce system, a key to fighting this virus."

    3) Anchor in the present moment: "When we feel anxious and fearful, our thoughts are often in the future, catastrophising. In the present moment, we are able to slow down our brain. So really try to do things like mindfulness, meditation, focusing your breath. And if all of that feels like too much, slow down and do one thing at a time: cooking dinner wtih your family without watching the news, brushing your teeth and focusing on the sensations. Really anchoring in this moment is an evidence-based way to slow down your brain to bring down anxiety. I want to remind all of you that anxiety is a biological response to a threat. COVID-19 is a real threat, so it's impossible for us to not have some level of anxiety. What we all need to be doing is practicing the steps to bring our anxiety down, get our brain back to the zone, so we can weather the storm together."

    You don't have to go through this pandemic alone. Reach out to your family, friends, and CWU community if you are struggling and need help. The ASC staff is here for you.

    Stay safe. Stay home. Stay healthy.

  • Time Management & Organization Skills

    Time management is how you organize and plan your time to finish everything you're working on

    Problem: If you struggle with time management, you might find yourself not having enough time to study or turn your assignments in when they are due. When you have trouble turning assignments in on time, it creates a cycle -- as you work on late assignments, you no longer have enough time to turn your current assignments in on time.

    Solution: Coaches provide access to different resources on different platforms to help you create a schedule/planner and we help you work through any problems you're experiencing when trying to manager your time. Below is a list of time management resources:

    • 20 Effective Time Management Tips - Gives 20 tips and strategies on how to use your time productively while also showing you how to rank your to-do list in terms of priority.
    • Course Overview Planner - Keep all of your class information in one place by filling in the names of your classes, the professor’s information, the attendance and late work policy, due dates for exams, assignments, and labs.
    • Eisenhower Matrix - Organize your tasks based on their urgency and importance by designating them to 4 quadrants with different work strategies: Do First, Schedule, Delegate, and Don't Do.
    • Quarter Planning Calendar - A 10-week calendar to keep track of your assignments, exams, projects, presentations, and personal commitments throughout the quarter.
    • Time Management Apps - If you rely on your phone to keep track of everything, time management apps are easy and accessible.
    • Week Long Hourly Planner - Organize your week with this 7-day planner from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm.
  • Study Skills

    Studying is how you teach yourself information from your classes and prepare for exams (to get the grades you want)

    Coaching Tip: Self-testing is an important study skill that gives you the confidence you know the information your learning in class. Not sure how to test yourself? View our Self Testing Strategies for some tips! Create flashcards! Try looking up practice exams for your class or subject online, ask your professor if they have any practice exams, use the chapter reviews in your text book, or ask your academic coach to help you explore and find the best self-testing strategies that work for you.

    Problem: If you struggle with studying, you may find yourself not knowing what to study for or how to answer questions correctly on exams. When you have trouble with studying, it can be hard to get the grade you want for a class.

    Solution: Coaches can help you create a study plan and organize the information you're learning in class in a way that is easier to remember. Below is a list of resources for studying:

    • 5-Day Study Plan - Helps you structure your studying by providing a 5-day study guide for you upcoming exams.
    • Study Cycle - Walks you through the process of previewing information before class, attending class, reviewing new information, studying briefly, and how to assess your level of understanding.
    • Creating a Study Guide - Helps you organize the concepts for your next test and identify what is most important to be studying.
    • Creating an Exam Review Guide - Shows you how to study the concepts you missed from graded exams.
    • Memorization Techniques - Provides multiple techniques on how you can memorize for tests like staying attentive while learning, reviewing information often, using sensory memory, and breaking down tasks.
    • StudyStack & StudyBlue - Online flashcards that help you test yourself, study more by creating your own or use flashcards that others have created if you're pressed for time.
    • Test Prep - Breaks down the process of studying for a test by the structure of the test, the material covered in class, and how to plan, review, and practice for the test.
    • Concept Map
  • Testing Strategies

    Test strategies are the strategies you use during exams to show your knowledge on the subject matter

    Problem: If you struggle with taking tests, you may find yourself not feeling prepared for exams or doing worse on a test than you were expecting. When you have trouble with test taking, it can cause test anxiety and an overall feeling that you won't be able to succeed in class.

    Solution: Coaches work with you on identifying your current testing strategies, defining what grades you want to get on your exams, and working through different strategies until you find the ones that work best for you. Below is a list of resources for testing strategies:

    • Essay Exams - Prepares you for an essay exam by showing you how to plan for the essay, write the essay, and proofread.
    • Exam Debrief Checklist - A checklist that focuses on prepping for the exam, what to do during the exam, and what to do after.
    • Surviving Finals - Tips and strategies on where to study, who can help if you're struggling, finding the time to study, and taking care of yourself.
    • Managing Test Anxiety - Identifies the causes and symptoms of test anxiety and how to manage it.
    • Test Taking Tips - Provides general advice for taking tests like being prepared, showing all of your work, answering every question, reviewing your answers, and how to be relaxed during the test.
    • Test Taking Timeline - Breaks down the timeline of tests and what you should do before, during, and after the test.
  • Note-taking Skills

    Note-taking is how you record information so you can refer to your notes later and remember what you're learning

    Problem: If you struggle with taking notes, you may find yourself forgetting important information told in class or mentioned in your textbook. When you have trouble with note-taking, it can be difficult to remember information talked about in class and harder to organize the information you're learning.

    Solution: Coaches show you why note-taking is important and help you find the style of note-taking that works the best for you. Below is a list of resources for taking notes:

    • 5 Note-taking Methods - Explains the different note-taking methods: the Cornell Method, outlining method, charting method, mapping method, and sentence method.
    • Summary Sheet
  • Reading Strategies

    Reading strategies are the strategies you use to understand information from your textbook and articles.

    Problem: If you struggle with reading, you may find yourself feeling like reading the textbook is impossible or a waste of time. When you have trouble with reading the textbook, you can lose a detailed explanation of the topic you are learning and miss information your professor might include on an exam.

    Solution: Coaches work with you to find the reading strategies that work best for you and make time to practice those strategies with you during the session. Below is a list of resources for reading:

    • Color Coding for Textbook Reading - Helps breakdown information in textbooks by creating a color code key that identifies the main idea, important points, notes, examples, and definitions within the text.

    • Improving Reading Efficiency - Describes different styles of reading, how to create a productive reading environment, and the importance of practicing what you're reading.

    • Textbook Reading - Explains the process of reading your textbook by scheduling time to read, understanding the textbook’s layout, taking notes while reading, making connections with other classes, and checking the your comprehension.

  • Mindset & Motivation

    What are your thoughts, habits, and attitude when it comes to your academics?

    Problem: If you struggle with college being a valuable experience for you, you may find yourself thinking your education is a waste of time. When you have trouble with your thoughts, habits, and attitude towards college, it can cause feelings of anxiety, dread, avoidance, and procrastination.

    Solution: Coaches can help you if you're struggling with mild anxiety, low motivation, procrastination, and improving self-care by talking about these problems with you and providing advice and solutions on how to feel better about your college experience. Take our Mindset Assessment to see what mindsets you have. Below is a list of mindset and motivation resources:

    • Mindfulness Explained - Mindfulness is the practice of focusing on the present and training your mind to focus and not wander.
    • The Problem with Perfectionism - Shows how perfectionism is a cycle and that many perfectionists base their self-worth off of thier successes and failures.
    • Self-care - Tips on how to de-stress when your quarter starts to get busy.


    • How to Change Your Mindset - Your mindset is how your beliefs influence your behaviors, relationships, and reactions. Changing your mindset requires you to refocus your values and make sure your actions align with them.
    • Growth vs Fixed - A growth mindest is how much you believe your basic qualities, like intelligence and talent, can be changed. A fixed mindset is how much you believe your basic qualities are permanent.
    • Open vs Closed - An open mindset is how much you believe you could be wrong and how seriously you take others' ideas. A closed mindset is how much you believe you are right and how often you avoid new perspectives.
    • Outward vs Inward - An outward mindset is when you are highly aware of your group's goals and how your actions will affect them. An inward mindset it when you are highly focused on your personal goals.
    • Promotion vs Prevention - A promotion mindset is how much your goals are oriented around trying new things and advancing your goals. A prevention mindset is how much your goals are oriented around metting your responsibilities, while taking as few risks as possible.
  • Goal Making & Problem Solving

    Making goals creates a plan and provides structure to accomplish what you are working on

    Problem: If you struggle with making goals, you may find yourself not having a clear idea of what you want out of your college experience. When you have trouble making goals, you can feel like you don't have any direction for you current college plan or what your plan will be when you graduate, and this can lead to feeling like there is no purpose to your college experience.

    Solution: Coaches create an environment for students to have an honest conversation about what they are struggling with and possible reasons why, while also helping you identify why you're going to college, what you define as academic success, and how best to achieve your goals. Below is a list of goal making and problem solving resources:

    • Emotional Intelligence Toolkit - Manage your stress and emotions by changing your moods/attitudes that are self-defeating, managing your stress and anxiety quickly, staying connected to how your feeling and what you're thinking, and following through with your goals.
    • Problem Solving - Helps you figure out how to answer a question that you’re struggling with on an assignment by laying out a roadmap of identifying, analyzing, finding a method to solve the problem, and evaluating the solution.
    • SMART Objectives - Gives a template for you to create specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely goals.
    • Weekly Goals - A 7-day planner that helps you plan your week in terms of when assignments are due, when you're going to work on them, and any other activities you need to finish during the week.
  • Learning Theories

    Learning theories explain the factors and processes you use in order to absorb and remember new information

    Learning theories are the foundation of academic coaching. By helping you understand the specific processes and factors that you use to learn, we can help you find the right strategies and skills that work for individually. Learning theories explain how different processes and environmental, cognitive, and emotional factors influence how you understand and retain information, the signifigance of your prior experiences, and the different ways you can receive information. Below is a list of resources on different learning theories and online tests:

    Take online tests with some skepticism. Pay attention to results that stand out to you, if a result sounds like you, chances are it's repreenting you. If a result doesn't sounds like you, ignore it.

    Learning Theories:

    • Bloom's Taxonomy - Defines the order of how you learn within a framework of six levels on how best to comprehend content and study skills. The levels start with remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, and end with creating.
    • Effective Learning Guide - Helps you identify study strategies that you can improve on to make studying easier.
    • Metacognition - Metacognition is the process of understanding your learning processes. This resource explains the importance of metacognition and provides tips for improving your metacognition, or learning how to learn.

    Online Tests:

    • Myers-Briggs 16 Personalities & Multiple Intelligences - is set up so you can choose what you want to be tested on: Personality Type, Multiple Intelligences, Learning Style, and/or Dominant Brain Hemisphere. The personality type test (called MBTI) rates you on what your dominant preference is when making decisions: introverted or extroverted, thinking or feeling, intuition or sensing, and perceiving or judging. The multiple intelligences test challenges the idea that there is only one type of intelligence and instead suggests that there are 8 intelligences: logical, musical, kinesthetic, naturalist, visual, linguistsic, intrapersonal, and interpersonal. The learning style test determines what sense/s you use the most when learning: visual, kinesthetic, and auditory.
    • Honey & Mumford Learning Style Test - Identifies what approach to learning you naturally prefer: activists learn by doing, theorists learn by understanding the theory, pragmatists learn by seeing how information is put into practice in the real world, and reflectors learn by observing and thinking about the information.
    • Locus of Control Test - Tests you on how much you believe that you or external forces have control over the outcomes in your life. An internal locus of control means that you believe your own actions determine the outcomes of your life and an external locus of control means that you believe your own behavior doesn't matter and the outcomes of your life are out of your control.
    • MARSI Test - Metacognitive Awareness of Reading Strategies Inventory rates how frequently you use reading strategies when reading academic materials. Helps you identify the reading strategies you're strong in and the strategies you could improve in.
    • Personal Characteristics Inventory - Assesses 6 dimensions of your personality: honesty-humility, emotionality, extraversion, agreeableness, conscientousness, openness to experience.
  • CWU Resources

    Taking advantage of the academic resources available to you is a large part of succeeding in college

    Academic resources range from studying with classmates, to getting help from a tutor, to using online academic resources. Getting help is part of the process of learning, so take control of your education by getting the help you need to be successful. Below is a list of academic resources offered by CWU:

    CWU Resources:

    • Academic Advising - Provides advising for first year, major, online undergrad programs, and transfer students.
    • Academic Coaching - Academic Coaches work 1:1 with students to find strategies that lead to academic success.
    • Brooks Library - Great resource for finding accesible research articles through the Onesearch and Databases links.
    • Campus Map - If you're struggling finding classes, print out a campus map, circle the buildings you have classes in, and then draw in the best path to get in between classes.
    • Career Services - Provides resources for students and alumnis, finding jobs, co-ops, and internships, what you can do with your major, and career event information.
    • Disability Services - Determines accomodations for students with permanent or temporary disabilities to make university life accessible. Remember, you have to register with Disability Services in order to recieve accomodations.
    • GPA Calculator - Have a goal for your GPA this quarter? Fill in the credits of your classes, the letter grade you want to get in the class, your CWU credits earned, and your current GPA to find out what grades you need in order to get the GPA you want.
    • Math Center - Supports all general education Math and Quantitative Reasoning courses, as well as many other courses that have a mathematical basis.
      • Math Resources - Resources provided by the Math Center on Derivatives and Limits, Finite Math 130, Physics, Trigonometry formulas, and the Unit Circle.
    • Online Tutoring - All CWU students also have access to eTutoring through the Northwest eConsortium, which offers you tutoring in the following subjects, from 5am to midnight, 7 days a week: Accounting, Anatomy & Physiology, Biology, Calculus, Chemistry, Economics, Engineering (circuits and digital systems only), Introduction to Psychology, Math (developmental math through calculus), Microsoft Office, Physics, Spanish, Statistics, Web Development (xHTML, CSS, and Adobe Dreamweaver), Writing (asynchronous, synchronous, and graduate-level).
    • PALs Tutoring Groups - Learning communities, focused on a specific course and section, where you can practice positive study habits, learn new study skills/strategies, get to know your classmates, and strengthen your understanding of class content. Please visit the webpage to get what classes are offered for the quarter.
    • SHS: Student Health Services - Provides medical and nutrition services.
    • Student Counceling Services - Provides counceling services.
    • Wellness Center - Promotes positive health behaviors and encourages social connections that support student success. They provide support and education for life outside the classroom so you can maximize your time at CWU and build skills for the future.
    • Writing Center - Peer writing tutors—trained in composition theory, rhetorical analysis, and feedback strategies—provide constructive responses to you, no matter what skill level or point in the writing process you are at.
      • Writer Resources - Resources provided by the Writing Center on giving/receiving feedback, generating ideas and getting words down, identifying/questioning underlying assumptions, focusing your research, developing thesis statements, rhetorical appeals, evaluating sources, commas/clauses, conciseness, and clarity.
  • Online Academic Resources

    Online academic resources can help you become an independent learner

    • Khan Academy - Videos that help with multiple levels of math, science, economics, history, music, art and computers, and includes test prep for SAT, NCLEX-RN, GMAT and MCAT.
    • Get Body Smart - For Human Anatomy and Physiology, explains the structures and functions of the human body systems through animated text narrations and quizzes.
    • Google Scholar - Web search engine that contains scholarly, peer-reviewed literature in various formats.
    • Hyper Physics - For Physics, provides tutorials and materials for physics as well as links to materials for chemistry and biology.
    • Math Is Power 4 You - For Math, provides free mini-lessons and videos from prealgebra, to calculus 3, to trigonometry, to linear algebra, to differential equations.
    • My Open Math - For Math, enroll in a self-study course that provides free math textbooks and includes online interactive, self-grading assessmenta that can automatically create new versions of problems to provide unlimited practice with instant feedback. They have self-study courses for: prealgebra, beginner and intermediate algebra, precalculus 1 and 2, and trigonomtery.
    • Purdue OWL: Online Writing Lab - For Writing, gives acces to free writing resources, instructional material, and a database of information to assist you with any of your writing projects.
    • Son of Citation Machine - For Writing, creates citations in APA, MLA, and Chicago for souces from books, websites, newspapers, magazines, journals, and films.
    • Test Prep Review - Offers free practice tests, study guides, and flashcards on ACT, GED, ATI TEAS, GMAT, GRE, LSAT, MAT, MCAT, NCLEX, Next Gen Acccuplacer, Praxis, and SAT.
  • Additional Resources
    • How to Access Office 365 - Shows you how to use your outlook email to access the downloads for Outlook, Word, PowerPoint, SharePoint, Sway, OneDrive, Excel, OneNote, and Teams.
    • Smart Pen Guide - Explains how to set up and use the different features of a smart pen.
    • Useful Student Apps - Includes apps for you phone that make college easier: Canvas, Outlook, Wepa, Bookshelf, Quizlet, Adobe Scane, Focus To-Do .

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