This semester in CU1010 I came in as what I thought was a good student and could not have been more wrong. Alright, maybe I could have. I didn't know what to expect from the course in the beginning and just thought that it was going to be something I had to get through in order to help me get off probation. I learned quickly that this is not what this class or project was. By completing these exhibits I learned a lot about myself and how I work. I learned how to correct issues and how to better adapt to different situations which is extremely important in not only school, but the real world outside of school as well. This was something that I learned last semester but didn't execute on in the fall, and I regret not doing anything or looking into how to change anything until it was too late. This portfolio taught me better time management skills as well as new study methods. I also learned about how I should be setting goals in order to be able to achieve them in both short and long term settings. With all of this being said, I really wish I had taken CU1010 right from the beginning in order to better adjust to Clemson academically and not waiting until I did poorly in my classes. I'm actually really looking forward to my remaining semesters here at Clemson with the knowledge I have gained this semester from this class and project.
Exhibit 1: Recognizing and Revising Self-Talk
Inner Critic: The Inner Critic is the voice that places most of the blame for a problem on oneself. This voice is the one that says, "You're just not good enough," or "I just don't know how to do this." After the exam key was was posted for our first exam I decided to check my answers against the key to see how I did, and I did way worse than I was expecting and anticipating. This brought probably one of the most uneasy gut-wrenching feelings of my college career followed by a very intense fit of anger. I spent near an hour blaming myself and complaining about how I made a multitude of tiny mistakes that lead to marking the incorrect answer, after marking and erasing the correct answer. All of my emotions at this point made me ready to punch a hole in my wall. Instead of getting bent beyond out of shape that I made a bunch of mistakes on the exam, I could have let my inner guide speak instead and figure out where I went wrong on each question to understand it even better for the final.
Inner Defender: The Inner Defender is the voice that does exactly what it sounds like. It tries to pin blame on a 3rd party or outside source. One example I have observed of my inner defender in action was last semester. Last semester one of my roommates was making awful life choices that were not allowing me to focus as hard on my school work as I had wanted to causing me to not be prepared for assignments, quizzes, tests, etc. My thoughts were almost always, "If it weren't for that kid's existence or poor choices I wouldn't have failed that test," or something very close to those lines. Instead of resorting to excuses I could've stayed on campus for a better part of the day in order to study in order to improve my grades and not allow the living situation at the time effect my academics.
Inner Guide: The Inner Guide is the voice that is realistic about a situation. It is a balance between the voices in that it acknowledges the issue, but instead of finding a way to cope with the issue the Inner Guide seeks a way to correct the issue. That evening my Inner Guide finally spoke up and I told myself I was going to go meet with my professor for an exam debrief in order to see where I made my mistakes and figure out a way to interpret the questions better to fully understand what I am being asked for. This helped me see how the situation actually looked and allowed me to direct myself accordingly in a manner that I would be happy with looking back on the situation. Being mature about the situation and not letting emotions get to me a second time was definitely how I should have acted in the first place and not letting my emotions and feelings go to my head despite how bad I might have done on my exam.
I tend to think that my default inner voice is the Inner Defender. Whenever something doesn't go close to how I intended the event to go, I go off and blame other variables for my shortcomings. Whether it be a person, people, or some other uncontrollable variable, I find a way to pin the blame on it. I've done this a good portion of the times I've failed, because rarely do accept defeat. I definitely intend to change this, because it's not fair for myself or others to be placing blame on someone or object for something I could have prevented or done better. I can go about changing this behavior by using my inner guide more often than my inner defender. This means not letting thoughts of feelings effect my behavior or actions. As disappointed or upset as I may be in a situation, it's not worth letting others see me compose myself like that, nor letting myself see me compose myself in such a way. I see others behave this way sometimes and it's embarrassing to think that I react similarly sometimes for the same, if not, sillier reasons. With this being said, in order to correct the issue and use my inner guide more, I want to try taking a step back and taking a moment to collect myself and take a few breathes before jumping to inner critic or defender. Not allowing either the inner critic or inner defend to manifest is the best way to change from my default inner voice from defender to inner guide.
Exhibit 2: Time Management
Part 1 asked for us to create a plan with 3 levels, semester, weekly, and daily. These first two pictures are of my monthly calendar which hangs right in front of my face with major assignments, meetings, and some homework. This has been the biggest help by far because I find myself referencing this calendar a multitude of times each day. Different classes receive different colored markers in an attempt to help organize some of the information (ex, green is for engr1020, blue is for econ2110, and red is for chem1010).
Another example of my semester plan as stated previously. Breaks and personal events are also included on my plan such as my race weekends and races I wish to watch, etc.
Following the format of the weekly planner we were given in class, I created a color coded schedule in excel so I could have a saved digital copy for each of my semesters and a printed out copy that hangs next to my semester planner. This helps me a lot more to stay on track on a day to day basis versus last semester where I was studying when I thought I had time instead of setting aside blocks of time to study and complete work for my classes.
For my daily plan, I have found that keeping post-it notes on my semester plan where they are right in front of me every time I look up help to make sure I get assignments done on time for my classes. So far I haven't missed an assignment or been forced to turn in anything late I'm proud to say. I have found that for myself that keeping all three semi-overlay-ed with each other helps me the most. This is because the semester plan keeps me on track and allows me to pace myself for the semester and stay in control, the weekly plan insures that I am on track with studying my classes, and post-it notes literally on top of both helps emphasize certain assignments and due dates on a daily basis. It has also been a huge help in prioritizing work and assignments in the past.
Using the templates from part 2, and keeping track of activities day to day I was able to see where I spending my time each day in the form of a pie chart. I no question spend most of my working day in quadrant 1. I try to save activities that are less important or urgent for the "after hours" block of my day. Although it is inevitable that stuff from quadrants 2 and 3 shift priorities from day to day occasionally like errands, and everyday life.
This pie chart was a comparison to how often I was able to follow my daily plan over the three days I monitored my schedule. Which makes me slightly disappointed in myself because I was only able to follow my schedule roughly 60% of the time. I know I can follow my plan better than that. I want to try to monitor another 3 days aside from class to see if I can change this chart and see at the very least a 30% increase in the ability to maintain consistency in my day to day schedule.
After looking at my journals, data and charts I definitely have some area for improvement. Especially when it comes to improving consistency in following my schedule and plans I have laid out for myself. Knowing me, I know it's possible to follow this plan to the 'T', that's just the way my mind works. I know I have more of "engineer mindset" where everything is planned and thought out for each day so I stay as organized as possible. When I'm at work and in the garage that's how I maintain my work space. So I need to make sure that my schedule stays as organized as my work spaces. If I can accomplish that, I have no doubt I will be able to achieve a 90%+ consistency when it comes to following my plan for when I follow up with myself in a week (outside of my classes, I am genuinely curious to see if I can improve my overall academic consistency).
Exhibit 3: Retrieval Practice Self-Study
I will be testing the Flash cards, Quizlet, and Mind Mapping techniques for my exhibit on retrieval practice for three different classes. All three classes I have already had exposure to, so this exhibit will allow me to see what technique works best for memory retention and understanding of the material. Last semester I didn't feel I actually was able to understand what I was learning nor retain the information for very long. So when exams came up, reviewing was difficult and ultimately I wasn't prepared nearly enough to do well.
For my first technique, I decided to try note cards. I decided to use them for my microeconomics class since the class is primarily vocabulary and concepts and not very much math. Before using note cards I was only able to to retain around 50% of the terms for the first 3 topics or the first two chapters of our book. I made flash cards and went through them a few times each day leading up to the first exam. The first few days there was a noticeable increase in retention of the material. On the first quiz I scored a 75% which let me know what I needed to give special attention to as far as concepts were concerned. I felt it was a pretty good baseline to test the retention using note cards. Continuing the usage of the note cards each day allowed me to obtain a better understanding of the concepts I felt I needed to work on. After taking the first exam I found I scored a 77%. This was moderately disappointing to me because of the fact that I had put as much time into studying as I did I felt I should've been able to score better than a C. I think note cards worked for term learning and retention which was good for certain areas but not so much the mathematical concepts. I did feel more confident going into this exam than a good portion of my exams last semester.
For my second experiment I decided to make a mind map for my chemistry class (chem1010). I decided this would be beneficial in a number of ways, like helping tie different material and concepts together by seeing everything in map form on paper and how certain topics are related to each other. I decided to create the map along side the lectures a little portion at a time. That made everything easy and understandable for me. The quizzes leading up to the exam I scored 100% on both. I put numerous hours into making sure I was going to knock the first exam out of the park, because I desperately needed to this semester to ensure I obtain the highest grade possible. I reviewed this map supplementary to what I was already doing to prepare for the exam and felt like I had a way better grasp of the material than the previous semester. Days before the exam, I took the practice exam and old exams and scored A's on each one. Needless to say, I was feeling extremely confident that I was going to achieve one of my short term goals. I ended up scoring a 71% on my first exam for this class. The only way to describe how upset I was about this grade is, soul crushing. I studied without a doubt the hardest I ever had in college for this exam and was 100% sure I was going to get an A. I had little to no stress walking in to the testing location, but I think I just choked on some of the wording in some of the questions. In conclusion, I think I definitely gave an awesome effort, I just need to work on implementation and execution a little more for the next exam.
For my third experiment, I decided to use Quizlet. I had used Quizlet before in middle and high school a bit, but not college. I was curious about how and if it could help me now in college. I found it similar to using note cards but a little more convenient than having to keep up with a mess of note cards. Even though I have taken this class before (engr1020) it did help with retention of smaller forgettable concepts and formulas. Using Quizlet at least a time or two a day helped a good bit with remembering the material on the homework. I was able to score well on all the homework assignments and attain a better understanding of topics that were unclear the previous semester. On the first exam, like the rest, I had noticeably more confidence walking in to the room. I scored an 83% on my first engr1020 this semester which is a letter grade higher than last semester for the same exam. While I wasn't ecstatic with the score, I was very happy that I had scored relatively well compared to last semester. Like in chemistry, it was small errors that added up that caused my to score what I did.
Reflecting on the first round of tests, I did have strengths, and I did have weaknesses. I didn't feel I had significant weaknesses that would impact my grades in such a way though. Using the methods I chose as a part of my regular studying definitely boosted my confidence going into the exams compared to last semester. While I still think all but one of my exams being at night only hinders my ability to perform on my tests, I did do better on all of the exams that I took last semester. Receiving a 77 on my first economics test gives me an excellent baseline for the next exam and what I need to do to properly prepare, which includes looking at the math concepts a lot more than I did. The note cards helped with learning and retaining vocabulary, but like I mentioned, I don't think they work for me with math concepts. I did feel that the mind map and Quizlet worked well. Even though the chemistry exam grade reflected poor knowledge, I will argue that I should've passed that exam with a B level grade minimum. Quizlet was nice because of how much us students rely on our computers in college, it was easier than having to write out note cards and trying to keep up with them. I don't think I'm going to change anything about Quizlet, but the mind map I think I will change how I create the map. Instead of lecture to lecture I think creating one from chapter to chapter would be much more beneficial. I assume the concepts might map and tie together easier than lecture to lecture. Overall I can be satisfied with the amount of effort I put into my exam preparation efforts either way.
Self Exhibit 1: Motivation/Mindset
For my first self-designed exhibit, I wanted to look at other people's motivation. For this exhibit I decided to create a survey in a Google Form format and share it with friends on social media to collect raw data. I figured that this would be the best way to collect data from other students. Having figured out how to collect the data, I then had to figure out what data I wanted to collect. I decided to keep the survey brief and only ask 5 questions.
I first decided to ask participants whether or not they attended Clemson University or not. This allow for a better look at a population that isn't exclusive to Clemson. In other words, I'll be able to look at students responses from other schools and not just Clemson. Looking at the chart we see that 60% of people that took the survey do attend Clemson, so it was a relatively even split in the data I would say.
The second question I asked participants how easy they feel it is to motivate themselves to accomplish a given task or assignment. I was a little shocked that I didn't get one vote above 3 on a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being impossible and 5 being easy. Seeing that it's roughly 50/50 for people to feel neutral or that it's slightly more difficult to motivate themselves to accomplish a challenge was slightly concerning as well, although it is easy to relate to that feeling. This question says more about students than just their ability to motivate themselves, it shows that students have little or no hunger for whatever they are doing I think.
For the third question in the survey I gave participants a short answer question asking, "What is the best way you have found to motivate yourself to accomplish something?" The answers I got were almost exactly the ones I was expecting to get per my hypothesis. Some responses include: the due date, fear of failure, candy, realizing the difficulty of the assignment, and wanting to improve grades. I definitely noticed an extrinsic motivation trend among all of the answers I got for this question. There was not one intrinsic motivation related answer at all.
Next, I wanted to see the correlation between procrastination and motivation among the participants. The pie chart shows that 90% of people do procrastinate, with only 10% saying they sometimes procrastinate, and 0% saying they don't procrastinate. These numbers aren't surprising seeing the results from question 2. The two might not have any relation, but these results would explain that if they do.
The fifth question I asked was, "What is the biggest reason why you procrastinate?" I got a pretty good variety of answers I thought which included: ADD, school is boring, I'd rather be doing something else, I don't know how to accomplish a task, distractions, and laziness were all answers that found their way into the results. I thought I would get mostly the same answer over and over again with slightly different wording each time, but I was somewhat wrong. I did not expect to get a form of medical condition or learning disorder as an answer, even though having ADHD I know makes it difficult to get work done even if you want to do it and not procrastinate. Aside from that one answer, everything else was along the lines of what I was expecting for answers.
This brief survey helped me better understand other people's situation in comparison to my own. I learned from just these few questions that even though everyone has slight variations and differences, for the most part everyone is the same. This survey also backs up what we learned earlier this semester in CU1010 about hunger and motivation. If people don't have hunger for what they are doing, then how are they supposed to actually accomplish the task with their best effort? This was both comforting and concerning to me. Comforting in the fact that I am sort of in the same boat as everyone else around me, and not only at Clemson University, but concerning because no one cares about what they're doing. Not the fact that they don't care about the classes because they are boring, but because they can't focus on the end goal and therefore only see classes as boring and irrelevant. I don't know how we would go about changing this in masses, but I definitely think that this is an issue that should be looked into at the very least.
Exhibit 4: Post Test Analysis
For my post test analysis, I chose to analyze the last chemistry exam I had since that has been the class that has given me so much trouble in the past. I didn't do as bad on the free response portion as I originally thought. I missed a few questions on the multiple choice portion due to careless errors dealing with atomic radius and electron configurations. I missed a bond angle at the very end of the test which only could have resulted in a 1 point loss.
The plan I devised was to essentially just study for this test like I did for the last one. That includes looking over the material at least two hours almost every week day, attending SI, attending the lectures, and focusing on how exactly the questions being asked are worded in order to properly answer the question and not miss any amount of points. Focusing a large portion on the question format was what made a large impact on the increase in my score from the first test. As long as I put in the same amount of time and the same or more effort, then the third test should be a similar score.
Although there is room to improve, it's not much room. This activity did help me talk to my professor like the professor interview did. During this meeting my professor made the comment, "you're actually doing pretty well right now." When I told her what I had done in order to prepare myself for the second exam she seemed slightly surprised that I had put time into not studying the content, but actually studying the question format and wording in order to not get tripped up like I did on the first exam. Afterwards I asked how I could best prepare for exam 3 since I already have the knowledge that exam 3 is a big one and is know for knocking students down figuratively. What she told me was to just keep devoting time to chemistry, do the homework, and spend lots of time on chapters 8 and 9. Considering what the bell curve looks like I'm very happy where I stand, especially after being in CU1010 and learning certain strategies and plans to help improve study habits along with test taking skills. If I had ironed out the details just a bit more from one of the chapters I think it's possible I could have gotten a 100. I think I'll try a post test analysis in another one of my classes to see if I can make any improvements for our third exams or finals.
Exhibit 5: Professor Interview
For my professor interview, I chose to interview my ENGR1020 professor. I chose to ask the following questions: What made you chose the career you are in? What do you enjoy the most about it? Are you where you thought you would be when you were in college? What advice would you give to students about general success in college? How would you define learning? What non-academic skill do you think is most important? and What is the greatest non-academic skill college students lack today?
This interview helped me to see that professors here are a lot more personable than I originally thought. They've been in our shoes almost exactly, so they know what most of us are going through on a day to day basis. My professors answers were slightly surprising but at the same time not surprising. Had I asked these questions I would have said, "Oh all the answers he gave me sound really typical" or something along those lines, but after having been in school for almost two years now I think the answers gave a lot of insight about how to get through school. I learned that leadership is a quality I need to be working on while I'm in school. I think I have mediocre leadership abilities but I definitely need to be working on them before graduation. I also need to get more involved with clubs and organizations while I am here in order to start networking and making connections through groups like formula SAE, etc. I feel like this interview made it easier to talk to my professor and gave more depth to him as a person than just a professor. This reminded me that every faculty member here is a person and consist of a lot more than just being a professor. Nothing jumped out at me that was super interesting, but I think it was interesting that most have a little bit of failure but still end up in the position they are in. I don't mean that in a negative way, it just seems that to get to certain positions you have to be flawless in your attempts. So I should say it's slightly reassuring and inspiring to know that we can still do great things even if we stumble or fall a couple times.
Exhibit 6: Values and Goal Setting
For our in class activity on values, my top five values ended up being Rationality, Family, Virtue, Safety, and Responsibility. The value that I would probably rank number one is probably rationality. Rationality and logic are what drive a good majority of the time. Especially when it comes to setting goals in and out of school I think I am very realistic about my goals and what I want to achieve.
Values That I thought were difficult to discard were genuineness, mastery, and self control. This is because I think it is very important to maintain a very high level of self control in many different situations. I desire to master everything that I get involved in, whether it be racing, academics, or any other hobby or activity I do strive to master whatever it is. I've always been that way and it's such a big part of me and therefore was really hard to throw away. Genuineness was also difficult to get rid of because I desire to be a genuine person, I want to be one person and one person only to everyone that I know.
Long Term Goal: I want to hit the pro-am ranks in IMSA by my 26th birthday. This is a realistic goal to me, because this gives me 6 years to hone my skills further where I am now and get my name out there along with my goals in order to find a way into the series I want to get into eventually. This is purely my desire and no one else's. That's what I want for myself. I will be racing pro-am in the IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car Series by the time I am 26. I will know I have accomplished this goal when I have a ride with whatever team that will take me on board for a racing season. This goal relates to my values of rationality, virtue, and family. I say this because every decision I am faced with I make with this goal in mind. I make decisions that will carry me and help me achieve this goal. Otherwise it would be completely senseless to have a long term goal set such as mine. I related virtue to this goal because in order to get to this goal, I need to keep my head on straight which I have done extremely well for 20 years. Family I related to this goal due to the importance of the sport to my family, maybe not my entire family, but it has been a pretty good part of our family and therefore has slightly influenced this goal. Mainly though, the goal is my own because it is something that I want to achieve or possibly even higher up than the series I am shooting for.
Short Term Goal: My short term goal is to have a 3.0 cumulative GPA or higher by the end of fall 2017. This is a realistic goal for me especially after taking CU1010 and learning how to change my study habits and be successful at Clemson in specific. This is a personal goal, like I mentioned earlier, whatever I do I desire to master it. While a 3.0 may not reflect mastery of every class I take, it is however enough for me to be happy with myself. I will have a 3.0 cumulative GPA by the end of the Fall 2017 semester at Clemson. I will measure my success by calculating my cumulative GPA as the semester continues and I will know I have succeeded when my transcript says I have a 3.0 cumulative GPA. This relates to my values of rationality, responsibility, and safety. I say rationality because I base my goals off of how realistic and achievable they are. I don't want to hold myself to unrealistic expectations even if I want to achieve them. I hold myself accountable for my grades and am able to police myself really well when it comes to studying and competing work typically which is why I related responsibility to this goal. Finally safety, I related safety to this goal because I want to have a cushion for when I get to harder classes so that my GPA will fluctuate less if I don't do as well as I want in a class later in my academic career.
Self Designed 2: Values
For this exhibit, I choose to keep track of my values during the week to see how my values change in order to achieve my goals. I saw that rationality and responsibility were what drove my decisions in order to bring me closer to my goals during the week. I found that on the weekend days, family has a pretty large influence on how I make decisions. I don't mean my family directly impacts my decisions, I mean that I keep my family in mind when I have to make a decision but I don't let it alter my decision.
While it didn't surprise me that these three values drove my decisions on a daily basis I did think it was quite interesting to try to analyze why I was making a decision at a given moment. Analysis included pulling apart daily decisions and digging down to the roots to find out where the decision fell in terms of my values that I found in our class activity. Then to figure out if that decision moved me closer or farther to reaching my goals. As an example, one night instead of getting dinner with friends, I went back to my apartment to eat and study for a chemistry quiz later that week. This was an example of rationality and responsibility moving me closer to my goal of having a 3.0 GPA by the end of Fall 2017. This is what made this exhibit so interesting to me, just seeing how even the smallest of decisions made some form of positive or negative impact on my future.