Pointers for Studying Plant Biology

1. Be organized. Get a 3-ring binder at least 1" thick. Organize your papers sequentially. Keep all handouts, quizzes, class notes and spare lined and unlined paper in this binder. Get a zipper-case for your binder. Keep your lab kit in this case. Add your mechanical pencil, spare leads, and erasers to this case. Keep a USB/flash/jump/thumb drive in this case. Use the website to stay in tune with the "real" schedule!

2. Keep up. You must attend every class. Be on time! You should have read the pertinent web pages on the website BEFORE coming to class. You are not an empty vessel to be filled, rather you are an active learner seeking to add to what you can get "on your own." If you don't know the basic concepts of the study to be carried out, you will be looking over your shoulder to see what everyone else is doing rather than directing your own study. Obviously you can only achieve a portion of what others do when you are "following" them. Work quickly but carefully in lab. Don't skip out early or "save some work" for next week. Not only may materials be no longer be available/alive next week, but there may be so much to do next week that you stay permanently behind from the start.

3. Participate fully. If there is a discussion, pay attention and "stay tuned" to where the class is working. Take notes about what is said by you, by others, by the instructor. Ask questions if you do not understand any point in the discussion. Don't let any small item escape your attention. Work well with your partners. Be cooperative and helpful to others in class. Keep your language and behavior positive to get the most from everyone, including yourself! Use all your senses...be sure to explore all materials fully. Use many approaches and perspectives to learn. Listen as much as you talk. Make sure social talk is kept to a bare minimum...save that for after class!

4. Watch words. Biology in general, and botany in particular, is a subject with a whole new vocabulary. Strive to learn what each new word means and keep a personal glossary of words so that you can keep referring to words with which you need to work. Use the new words as frequently as possible...this is the best way to learn the new vocabulary. It will make taking quizzes far easier for you. Spelling correctly is a great goal. The instructor may accept some "close" spellings, but for your own education and future credibility you need to learn correct spellings. Pronounce the new words out loud; if you have an audio-recorder in your ipod or phone, try listening to yourself. Are you "sounding" like a botanist?

5. Improve yourself. NEVER submit a first draft of a paper. Start early on each project, write a first draft, let it rest for a week or two. Then re-read what you wrote critically and correct it thoroughly. Have a friend correct this second draft. Your hand-in version should thus be at least a third draft! Be sure to learn from every experience. This is especially true of graded materials. Go over returned papers and see how you can improve on them. Read any comments from the instructor; these are meant to help you improve...not to discourage you. You may not be able to hand-in a corrected version, but you can sure learn from one! This is a great place to improve your "personal-best." What you learn will likely be useful in almost every course you take. Be persistent; review frequently; practice at memorizing as needed.