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Essential Skills Portal: FAQs

Frequently asked questions

FAQs

If there’s something you’re wondering about, other people probably are too. Take a look at these frequently asked questions and queries to see if the answer you need is here.

Accessing Skills Centre sessions:

At the moment, all of our sessions are hosted online. We are not able to deliver face-to-face sessions or 1-1 appointments at present.

You can email the Skills Centre at skillscentre@shu.ac.uk or you can speak to a member of any of the Hallam Help teams. You can also submit a question online and it will be forwarded to the correct team.

If you would like to contact individual services, their email addresses are as follows:

There are two main ways you can choose to see what’s on:

  1. Use our Skills Centre What’s On guide to look for forthcoming events by date, by type, location, and by topic.
     
  2. You can also go directly to UniHub and search within Events and Appointments from UniHub’s top menu.
    Search within UniHub Events using “Skills Centre” or a relevant keyword such as “Critical Writing”  to find all our workshops, webinars and forums, or use a relevant keyword such as “Critical Writing” to find specific events.

    Sceenshot of searching Events in UniHub

    Search within UniHub Appointments for our 1-1s by selecting Academic Skills or Specialist Skills from the list of topics.

To cancel, find the event in your personal dashboard in UniHub; the event’s confirmation email should include this link so you can easily cancel an event or appointment.

You can cancel your booking any time before the session starts. If an emergency arises and you are unable to cancel in time, you can contact skillscentre@shu.ac.uk to explain your request for a retrospective cancellation. It is important to cancel your booking if you cannot attend as there may be a waiting list for popular events, and when you cancel through UniHub, your place can be immediately offered to another student. Also, if you miss too many sessions you have booked, you may be banned from booking further appointments and will need to contact us for the ban to be removed.

If you are studying on a part-time or day release basis and have very limited availability for when you can attend sessions, please email us with the titles of the sessions you are interested in. We may be able to schedule sessions at different times or provide you with a recording of a previous sessions.

You can access the online resources available on our website. You also have access to an extensive online package of study skills tutorials through Skills for Study.

If a group of students on your course want to attend a workshop on a particular topic, but your timetable does not allow you to, please ask your tutor to contact us with the workshop title and the times when there is a gap in your timetable (e.g. Mondays between 2-5 pm). We may be able to put a workshop on at that time, subject to staff availability. We can be reached at skillscentre@shu.ac.uk


Questions about our session types

We offer a number of different session types:

  • Workshops
    Workshops are 1 hour online sessions on specific topics. They include explanations and interactive activities to improve your skills.
     
  • Forums
    Want to apply academic skills to your own work with an advisor? In a small group of up to three students, you will be able to share and discuss your work and develop and apply new strategies. View the calendar to book a place on a forum.
     
  • Virtual drop-ins - every Wednesday, 4-6pm
    Academic skills advisors, librarians, Maths and Stats experts and our Digital Skills team are online to answer quick queries on topics such as on referencing, information searching, writing critically, planning and structuring your work, formatting long documents. We can signpost you to further sessions or online to develop your academic skills. Join the waiting room on Wednesdays 4-6pm to chat.
     
  • 1-1s
    If you’re not sure where to start or find group sessions are not for you, book a 30 minute tutorial to develop your skills. These are tailored sessions covering all aspects of academic skills. You can learn how to study more effectively, improve organisation, develop your academic writing and confidence. We can also share online resources and book you onto further sessions that could be useful. 

1-1s are available as telephone appointments or using online software. All of our workshop sessions are online. 


Questions about specific types of help

If you need help with an assignment there are a number of different things you can do:

 

  • Book onto a Writing Forum to help you get started with looking at your question and assessment criteria, organising your ideas or planning the structure of your writing. These sessions are also great for when you have made a start and want to discuss your work with a small group of students from your course.
     
  • You can also book in to talk to an academic skills advisor in a 1-1 appointment. To speak to a librarian about getting started with researching and reading for your assignments, come along to our weekly online drop-in, Wednesdays 4-6pm.
     
  • If you need help now, have a look at the resources section of this website for a range of self-help materials around assignments and writing.
     
  • And finally, you may want to look at the webinars available to develop your skills.

You can book onto a writing forum to help you get started with looking at your question and assessment criteria, organising your ideas or planning the structure of your writing.

Make sure you have all the information you need to get started. Looking at the following may be helpful –

  • The question – read it and supporting information carefully, underline key topics
  • Assessment criteria – identify different topics areas you are being asked to cover
  • Lecture notes – background notes on the topic, important theory and suggested reading
  • Module guide – clarify the learning outcome/goal and identifying appropriate reading.

It may help to read something general on the topic, to get an overview and identify relevant areas where you need to do more specific reading. For example, a text book or article that gives a general overview of several theories, to help you identify specific theories you want to read about in more depth.

Also, you can always approach the academic who teaches your module; they will be able to discuss the topic the assignment is based on, support you to understand the scope of the assignment, and suggest appropriate reading.

You may also want to look at the webinars available to develop your skills.

If you are new to referencing or new to APA referencing commonly used at Sheffield Hallam University, start by visiting our online referencing help pages. These pages have videos and an online interactive tutorial to help you practice your referencing skills and learn about referencing with APA. We also offer a 30 minute workshop called Getting Started with APA Referencing.

You can also come along to a 60 minute workshop to learn how to use ProQuest RefWorks and create a bibliography in seconds. ProQuest RefWorks is a easy to use web-based bibliography and database manager which you can use to create your own personal database by importing references from Library Search and online databases. The workshop includes interactive activities to let you practice your referencing and a chance to ask any questions you have about APA. 

View and book these workshops from the online referencing guide. If you need further help with referencing, come along to a weekly drop-in (Wednesdays 4-6pm) or contact Hallam Help who can forward a query on to a relevant librarian.

All of our sessions are for all students, but if you have a learning difficulty like dyslexia, a disability or you find group sessions are not for you our one-to-one tutorials are a good place to start.

We have a team of qualified teachers, with a range of experience at all levels of study. Some of our Learning Advisers are qualified Dyslexia Specialists, if you would like a Specialist Advisor please choose: ‘Specialist Study Skills Advisor’ when booking in Unihub.
 

The Skills Centre can’t proof-read or look through your whole assignment.

However, you can access our Editing and Proofreading Guide to learn about these skills for yourself. For example, it can help to read your work aloud or print it out to read when you are trying to spot errors.

You can also get feedback from the Studiosity online feedback service to identify areas you may need to develop. Then come along to Skills Centre sessions to develop your academic skills. We find students get the best results by coming along early in the process of writing an assignment to have time to use the new skills learned and to access additional sessions and resources.

We can:
• Provide advice & guidance on academic skills and strategies for you to use in your work.

• Help you understand the expectations of assignments throughout your study from Foundation to Doctoral Level, for example, how to write critically rather than descriptively.

• Help you understand increased expectations at different levels of study.

You can also view the University’s guidance about external proofreaders.


What online feedback service is available?
Studiosity is an online writing feedback service available via My Hallam. Students can upload draft essays and extracts of their work online, and will receive comments, feedback and suggestions from an academic writing expert within 72 hours (usually 24 hours). This service is available in addition to the study skills support offered as part of your course and by the Skills Centre and the University English Scheme.
 

Who can use Studiosity?
Studiosity is available to all students, but is particularly useful for first-year students and those new to academic writing and study at SHU.  Each year you are able to submit some of your academic writing to the Studiosity online writing feedback service.   In the 2020/21 academic year (Aug-July), you can upload up to 8 samples of work of up to 2,500 words each. Studiosity also offers a ‘Connect Live’ service with online chat.  However, each use of this connect live service counts as one of your 8 submissions for the year.

Where can I upload my work for feedback?
You click on the Studiosity link via Blackboard.

Image of Studiosity link in Blackboard

Image of Studiosity link in Blackboard

What kind of feedback will I receive?
Your work will be read by an academic writing specialist with no subject-specific knowledge on your course or topic. Their feedback will focus on the key elements of academic writing: structure, language choice, argument development, referencing, and grammar and punctuation. Studiosity is not a proofreading service, and the comments will focus on how to improve your academic style, structure and register.

How long will it take to receive feedback?
You will receive feedback on your writing within 72 hours of uploading to Blackboard.

Where can I get help interpreting and acting on my Studiosity feedback?
To work through your Studiosity feedback with a Learning Advisor, there are a range of options:

  • You can book onto a small-group Writing Forum
  • If your feedback highlights a clear area for further development, you may prefer to attend an online workshop.
  • You can also use the study skills resources for available in our resources section.

I’m a member of staff – where can I find more information on how my students might access and use Studiosity?

In order to find out more about Studiosity, please contact us at skillscentre@shu.ac.uk.


The University English Scheme offers regular term-time sessions on these topics – see the Academic English section of the website to find session times.
 

The Maths and Statistics Support service runs drop-ins and appointments during term time.

See their website to find out about their forthcoming session times or to access their online resources.

Their tutors can help with big difficulties or quick questions and you don’t need to be studying a maths related subject. For example, the Maths Help service could support the development of numeracy skills for:

  • Assessment centres
  • PGCE testing
  • Nursing drug calculations
  • Business reports.

The Stats Help can support the development and understanding of statistics for:

  • Interpreting research results
  • Statistical analysis within psychology studies.

If you have checked their website and are unsure if the service could support you, contact the team on mathshelp@shu.ac.uk or statshelp@shu.ac.uk.


Questions from staff

Please drop us an email at skillscentre@shu.ac.uk and let us know the days and times when your students are in SHU and are able to attend either workshops or a writing forum, as well as the title of the workshop if appropriate. We will do our best to schedule a session at one of these times. NB. We will let you know when we have done this so you can encourage your students to book right away as such sessions will still be open to bookings from all students.

You can point your students to additional academic skills development Resources from our website.

You can also add a link into your Blackboard site to our one page document Develop Your Skills with Skills for Study. This has handy links to selected activities in the Skills for Study online platform. All you need to do is add the above link to your Blackboard resources. (Please don’t send out the document itself – we may update it in future. Also note that Skills for Study is not currently available for students at collaborative partner institutions.)

If you would like to include information about the Skills Centre in an induction presentation or within other course materials, please use our Introduction to the Skills Centre video, or our video to how the Skills Centre can support your students while working online.

You can point your students to online academic skills development resources from our website.

You can also add a link into your Blackboard site to our one page document Develop Your Skills with Skills for Study. This has handy links to selected activities in Skills4Study Campus. All you need to do is add the above link to your Blackboard resources. (Please don’t send out the document itself – we may update it in future. Also note that Skills4Study Campus is not currently available for students at collaborative partner institutions.)

Studiosity is an online writing feedback service which provides constructive written feedback to students about their academic writing style.

After a successful pilot project in 2018/19, the service is now embedded as part of the broader academic study skills offer delivered by the Skills Centre. This year students will be able to submit up to 8 samples of work, of up to 2500 words each. They can submit work online 24/7 and will receive their feedback report within 24 hours.

For more information, read our Studiosity briefing document for staff.

If you have any further questions, please email the Skills Centre on skillscentre@shu.ac.uk


 

 

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