Study Skills : 1500 Self-Evaluation Report.
During my initial period at Kingston University studying Landscape Architecture, it soon
became clear where my strengths and weaknesses were. Having spent the last 13 years
working within the landscape industry, firstly as a junior landscaper, graduating to a
landscape foreman and finally becoming self-employed running my own design and build
firm, I had a wealth of knowledge which would assist my greatly in my chosen course. I
had also taken a Btec National Diploma in Landscape Construction which covered a
variety of subjects closely related to Landscape Architecture, hugely helping my future
studies. Art was one of my favourite pastimes as a child and when at school, which made
the ability to transmit ideas to paper and relate ideas to others visually a little easier. As a
mature student my knowledge of self and my strong desire to succeed in order to achieve
my goals has supported my study more than when I was eighteen, when my only aim was
to have a good time.
My older age however meant that I had not studied within an institution for 10 years, in
which time the processes and instruments used to facilitate learning learning had changed
quite a bit. My ability to negotiate computers was nil and being surrounded by all this
technology seemed daunting, especially when it was so integral to my work. I was
amazed and excited by the creative possibilities that could be generated by computers,
but unfortunately still lost in the most basic of tasks. This is only one of the challenges
that face all students and provides a stimulating opportunity to learn and develop our
skills and improve on our creativity.
It being quite a time since I last studied I had to reacquaint myself with the different
procedures of finding information and sources from which it can be gained. Going to the
library again involved computers, attempting to print items of the internet and other
sources was a headache to say the least. As mentioned before these were all challenges
which were gladly met and with time will become second nature, I hope. Lastly on
strengths and weaknesses, I was not sure whether my age was going to prove a hindrance,
maybe being set in my ways and having a particular mindset which might make it harder
to absorb new ideas, thoughts and methods of study. I think this may have initially been
the case, but believe that this is slowly eroding away.
My ability to work alone is good, the discipline developed from being self-employed,
motivating yourself to do things when they need be and to deadlines without the
assistance of others is a skill I hope I already possess. I actually prefer to work alone and
within my own space, without distraction or interference. This is a trait that has its
bonuses, but I am aware that the environment in which I am choosing to work is one that
combines many fields and specialists who need to work together for an end resort. I am
fortunate to have my own house from which I can study uninterrupted, surrounded by the
majority of means needed to generate productive study. Having my own space also
increases the hours I can dedicate to work, around the clock if need be. I think my older
age also helps it that I am aware of what I want to do and its importance to the bigger
picture. Trying to catch up with lost time adds to your desire to want to do well and your
dedication to commit yourself to study. My own interest and enjoyment of the subject
creates a greater thirst to want to know, explore and learn, and does not appear as a task,
but an extension of the day which I can happily complete alone. Where I fail working
alone is my lack of knowledge or skills required to complete work efficiently, especially
with the use of computers, whether its typing up an essay and printing it for assessment
or providing graphic presentations using various forms of media to help visualize a point
or prove that you can manipulate these techniques required within the industry. When
alone there is no one to consult for assistance, but this I am sure effects all students in
varying degrees and is the whole point of learning.
During the early period of starting the course, working within groups was a bit clumsy,
but I think this was due to the self-consciousness of individuals not knowing each other,
being in a new environment, taking on and being expected to deliver on fresh tasks. Our
group is essentially made up of students willing to work and provide the enthusiasm and
support required to help one another. There are students who make fleeting appearances
and a few have showed little desire to engage themselves in the course, their lack of
desire definitely deflates the rest of the willing group and I think most importantly that of
The fact that the group are all heading in the same direction aids the process of working
together, as individuals are willing and wanting to see what someone else has to offer to
the task at hand, which may teach them something new or give some inspiration.
Working in a group also clubs together different skills and abilities which everyone can
gain from to improve their own pursuits. My poor ability with computers was being
constantly being improved by my fellow students. On a personal level, being slightly
older may make you a little more patient and are able to sit back and listen to all the ideas
and views of the group, before giving your own.
The results I have received from my first two projects have been positive and
encouraging. Highlighting the areas where I have done well and others where I require
more work and greater depth of study. I am at a definite advantage to my fellow students
in that I have previous experience to draw from that has assisted me during this first
semester. My results have shown however that these skills are limited and have learned
that there are countless other skills to be adopted to bring my study and presentations up
to the expected standard.
The ways in which I may have improved my study include efficient time management.
During my first semester I was not able to organise my time properly, trying to earn
money to pay the bills I was spreading myself to thinly. Focusing to much on earning
money meant that I sacrificed time which should have been spent concentrating on
projects and assignments given by other modules. Unfortunately this lead to missing
several lectures, which not only lessens your grasp on what is being taught, but puts you
behind in what has to be done, relying and putting extra pressure on fellow students who
have to devote themselves to their own work. It has only been with time that I have
discovered the great range of sources that are available at Knights Park, especially within
the library. I now try to treat my days at university as a day at work, arriving at 8 30am
and leaving at 5 30pm and giving more time to study and less to outside work.
I have realised what a unique opportunity it is to be at Kingston University studying
Landscape Architecture and now wish to take every advantage of it and the facilities it
offers. This also includes time spent out of university and will attempt a routine where I
spend at least an hour and half committed to study or reading each night. Another aspect
which I aim to undertake to improve my study is to follow through the advice of tutors,
by that I mean making time to visit exhibitions, displays etc that we have been informed
about which would enlightens us and help our work. I have also learnt about the great
amount of inspiration and knowledge that can be taken out of the many events,
exhibitions, museums, parks and gardens in and around London and will try every
Sunday to spend the afternoon visiting some of these places. My greatest improvement I
believe will be undertaking lessons on how to use my computer and learning the
different applications required to develop greater resolutions to our presentations and
portfolio. These include photoshop, illustrator, vectorworks, sketchup and autocad.
Finally I am only now taking advantage of the Landscape Architecture department own
website, Landscapeis. Here there is a whole mine of information that guides and aids us
through our study, and I shall definitely be taking greater advantage of it.