University Students, Self, Skills, Essays, Assignments

Study Coach believe that it is important to understand self and develop personal skills, in conjunction with academic skills. Students preparing to start a University course should spend some time reflecting on their personal and academic strengths and weaknesses. Study Coach UK services are designed to support new students and returning students with their educational needs and personal development. University students could start their educational journey by gaining knowledge and understanding about the self. 

What is the self?

‘Self’ and ‘self-concept’ are used interchangeably to refer to an individual’s overall self awareness. According to Murphy (1947), ‘the self is the individual as known to the individual’, and Burns (1980) defines it as ‘the set of attitudes a person holds towards himself.

University students, could ask themselves the following question: How do we acquire the concept of self? 

Components of self concept

The self-concept is a general term that normally refers to three major components: self-image, self-esteem, and ideal self.

Self-image

Self-image refers to the way we describe ourselves, what we think we’re like. One way of investigating self-image is to ask people the question ‘Who are you?’ This typically produces two main categories of answers – social roles and personality traits. 

Students can gain knowledge by finding answers to the following questions: 

  1. What are social roles (find 4 example)
  2. What are personality traits (find 4 answers) 

Social influence can also play a role in the development of self-image, students could therefore consider whether Others’ do influence their self-perception? 

As well as social roles and personality traits, people’s answers to the ‘Who are you?’ question often refer to their physical characteristics (such as tall, short, fat, thin, blue-eyed, brown-haired). These are part of our body image/bodily self, the ‘bodily me’ which also includes bodily sensations, such as pain, cold and hunger.

Another fundamental aspect of body image is that of biological sex. Gender is the social equivalent or social interpretation of sex and our gender/gender identity is another part of the central core of our self-image. 

Self-esteem

While the self-image is essentially descriptive, self-esteem (or self-regard) is essentially evaluative. It refers to how much we like and approve of ourselves, how worthy a person we think we are. Coopersmith (1967) defined it as ‘a personal judgement of worthiness that is expressed in the attitudes the individual holds towards himself’.

How much we like or value ourselves can be an overall judgement, or it can relate to specific areas of our lives. For example, we can have a generally high opinion of ourselves and yet not like certain of our characteristics or attributes (such as our curly hair when we want it straight, or our lack of assertiveness when we want to become more assertive). Conversely, it may be very difficult to have high overall esteem if we have been very badly disfigured, or are desperately shy. 

A potential question to consider is whether there is a link between physical characteristics and self-esteem? 

In trying to understand self and Others’, the University student could do an exercise, by giving 10 different answers to the question of: ‘Who are You?’ 

Personal Skills – Verbal Communication 

Drafting essays/dissertation, creating Care Plans, carrying out Observations, delivering Presentations, are all part of the learning experience at University. Students will need to acquire, or to develop relevant skills to ensure that assessment criteria are met. Spoken Communication is researched by Michael Argyle and many others have followed in his footsteps. Study Coach would like to encourage students to set aside time to practise delivering presentations and furthermore, Study Coach would like students to focus more on articulation and not to spend time worrying about their accent. We all have an accent and should be comfortable with our accent. The aim is to be understood, to deliver meaning, as opposed to be worrying about elocution lessons. 

Presentation Assignment & Speech 

In respect of research on accents and perception, formal and informal speech, students might find it interesting to read the following research on accents. When reading do however feel free to critique ideas supporting social class and education.   

Labov (1966) studied accents in New York, for example by asking sales staff in different department stores (Kleins, Macy’s, Saks) a question to which the answer would be ‘fourth floor’, and found that ‘r’s were sounded in higher social classes. However, working-class and uneducated people can speak in a more educated or ‘middle-class’ way if they wish or if they are asked to speak carefully. For example Trudgill asked his subjects to read word lists and found the number of dropped final ‘G’s was much lower.

The shift from causal to formal speech produces the same accent changes that are produced by class or education. This leads one to ask: if most people know the ‘correct’ way to speak and are perfectly capable of doing it, why don’t they do it all the time, since they known that the educated middle-class accents are prestigeful? The answer is that a lower-class person who did this would be rejected by his own group.

How are speakers of different accents perceived? Research has been carried out with the ‘matched guise’ technique, whereby a versatile speaker makes tape recordings in several accents, which are rated by judges who think they are listening to different speakers. Such studies in Britain found that there is a social hierarchy of accents, from ‘received pronunciation’ (i.e. Southern, educated) at the top, to some acceptable local variants like Yorkshire and Scottish, and down to the stronger accents of industrial towns, including cockney, together with strong rural accents. The speakers of accents at the top of this hierarchy are judged to be of higher social class, and also to be more intelligent, ambitious, wealthy – even taller and cleaner. However, speakers of the lower status accents are also believed to possess a number of desirable qualities, especially by people who speak in the same way themselves. They are thought to be: (1) more honest, friendly, likeable and generous, and have more sense of humour; (2) more masculine in the case of males; (3) more genuine, since R P accents are seen as concealing a person’s social origins (Giles and Coupland, 1991).

Speech codes – Speech varies with class in other ways. Schatzman and Strauss (1955) in the USA interviewed people after a tornado and found an interesting class difference: the lower-class respondents, compared with the middle-class ones, used their own perspective, so that their accounts were difficult to follow unless the listener had been there too. They gave concrete information rather than using categories of people or acts, and they gave no illustrations. Bernstein (1961) took this further and argued that middle-class people in Britain use an ‘elaborated’ linguistic code, whereas working-class people use a ‘restricted’ one. He believed that the elaborated code makes fewer assumptions about the point of view of listeners, is less dependent on context and closer to ‘correct’ speech as taught in school. It uses more standard grammar, more subordinated clauses and a larger vocabulary

These ideas led to many studies in which speech samples were elicited from middle- and working-class children, often with IQ held constant. It has usually been found as predicted that the working class children used shorter sentences, fewer subordinates clauses and a smaller vocabulary, that their speech was more concrete, took less account of the point of view of the listener and used more endings like ‘didn’t I’ and ‘you know’. However, as with accents, children were found to be perfectly capable of using either code: working-class children shifted to a more elaborated code on abstract or school topics, middle-class children to a more restricted code for informal chat (Robinson, 1978).

Nursing Interview Questions for University or Work 

This question is usually asked at the end of an interview and for most of us, all we want to do is to make a quick escape, so we quickly say: ‘No, I am fine thank you, no questions’. This could however be a golden opportunity to give your interviewers more reasons to offer you a contract or to give you a place on the College/University course. I suggest that you should prepare a couple of questions in answer to ‘do you have any questions for us’. Here are some examples.

Example:

Could you tell me about the Erasmus programme, I am particularly interested to study in Italy? 

Do you give any financial assistance with learning and development? 

What kind of preceptorship programme do you offer?

Would it be okay to take a holiday in 5 weeks time, I have already booked a holiday?

Why Should we Offer you the Job or University place?

At the start of the interview it is likely that you will be asked why you should be given a place on the course or why do you think you should be offered the job. This question is particularly relevant to job interviews, and it gives you the chance to talk about your suitability for the role. If you are a health care worker, you should be shaping your thoughts to talk about your qualities and skills, and ensure that you provide relevant evidence to support your wonderful qualities and skills. Providing relevant evidence is crucial, it will be more persuasive as opposed to simply listing skills and qualities. 

Example: 

I am caring and honest and I have the courage to speak-up if I see that bad practice is taking place. For example, if I were to witness a member of staff administering an incorrect drug, I would not hesitate to report it. I have a duty to patients, to advocate on patients’ behalf and by reporting the incident I would be carrying out my duty. I understand the six Cs and I work in accordance to care values. I am a team player and by reporting the incident it will be in the interest of all members of the team and appropriate action can be taken to care for the patient.      

From Student to Staff

A newly qualified nursing student will need to convince employers that they have what it takes to become a good nurse.  A good nurse need to possess a daunting set of qualities, he/she need to demonstrate compassion, have good communication skills, show respect and resilience, be accountable and adaptable. If you know what is required of you then do ensure that you offer evidence to support the qualities and skills you possess. 

Tell us about a mistake you have been involved with?

What! They want to hear about my mistakes. Yes, shocking isn’t it. Now, you need to note that interviewers say that too often interviewees are very quick to talk about someone else’s mistake. In view of this don’t fall in the trap of talking about other people’s mistakes, instead talk about yours. 

The reason for asking you to talk about a mistake is to see what you have learnt from what took place. How did the mistake  change your practice, how did you work with others to change your practice? Furthermore, interviewers will be looking for how you use evidence in your practice. Simply reflect on all that you have learnt about evidence based practice, reflect on the many essays you have written on the topic and the presentations delivered on applying evidence in practice. Interviewers want to appraise your learning.   

Conflict Resolution

Interviewers might also want to hear how you would deal with conflict, so be prepared. The aim is to show that you can de-escalate a situation and not make the situation worse. You could say that taking people away from the area and sitting them down, to allow them to explain what led to the problem would be your chosen strategy. Furthermore, you should give your interviewers confidence and let them know that you are aware of when it is best to escalate the matter to a senior member of staff. 

What others would say about you?

Towards the end of the interview if you are asked to select three or four words to describe how others would describe you, then make sure that you use single words. It will show that you have listened to the question and that you can provide an answer using single words, as opposed to constructing a sentence. Your answer will furthermore show that you have in the past considered how others see you, and that you are able to use reflective skills. 

Last question – Do you have any questions for me? If you do, please get in touch. If you are preparing for a University interview, you might want to take a look at:

Study Coach is here to help you with your education, to improve assignment grades, to be the best you can be. We act as a critical friend and will guide you to understand the assessment criteria and for you to develop your academic skills. We provide both an Essay and Dissertation Online service. Study Coach provides online tutoring at its best, and you can access the service at any time and submit your work overnight. To find out more about our academic support and other services, call Morel Benard for a chat on 07944 849271 or email info@studycoach.uk.com



Thank you for all your help, you have built my confidence.
Ciara

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