Strategies for Academic Success
Posted: July 12, 2017 | Updated: January 28, 2020
Author: Liv Marken, University of Saskatchewan
Strategies for Academic Success accompanies the first-year University of Saskatchewan College of Arts and Science online course by the same name. However, the information it contains will apply to post-secondary institutions all over. The textbook has a reader-friendly format arranged to help you develop the essential skills and provide the information you need to succeed in university.
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Strategies for Academic Success by Liv Marken, University of Saskatchewan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.
4.5 / 5
Q: The text covers all areas and ideas of the subject appropriately and provides an effective index and/or glossary
While the seven chapters provide a sound overview of the potential challenges in a student's transition to post-secondary, there are at least two quite critical skill not addressed under academics. Whether the institutions call it research skills, information literacy, or some other fluency, providing tips and connections on campus for students to solidify skills for academic research. Presentation skills, be they written, verbal, or digital, would be another important addition. In all likelihood, these were not an oversight, but are skills covered in the authoring institution's core courses.
Strategies for Academic Success is also post-secondary centric. With more and more students entering university during a different stage e.g., second career, mature, widening the perspective would be more inclusive.
There is no glossary or index, but this would be a valuable add especially with Pressbooks's new Glossary tool. A basic glossary would be helpful, but each adopting institution would likely prefer to customize further to suit its terms and contacts.
For wider and easier applicability, "university" could broaden to post-secondary to include the college experience. Or, in adaptation, using Find and Replace to edit for the college environment (while making other more customized edits) would be quite manageable and make the resource more specific.
Presenting and covering information in multiple ways would appeal to different students' preferences and help solidify comprehension.
Comprehensiveness Rating: 4 out of 5
Q: Content is accurate, error-free and unbiased
Content is virtually error-free and models proper citation | attribution. The resource's voice is consistent and speaks directly to the reader for a more personal reading experience. The Learning Objectives that start each chapter set the scene and expectations. Looping back at the end of the chapter to connect back to the Learning Outcomes would benefit the student.
Images and examples are diverse and unbiased.
Some images are missing e.g., "Chapter Seven: Preparing for and Taking Tests" and the majority of images do not have alt text.
Normally, it would not rise to the level of comment, but given the focus some instructors place on proper citation, the references of the resource should reflect a current and correct style. APA is used, but there are minor errors including no hanging indent, improper capitalization, and punctuation.
Content Accuracy Rating: 3 out of 5
Q: Content is up-to-date, but not in a way that will quickly make the text obsolete within a short period of time. The text is written and/or arranged in such a way that necessary updates will be relatively easy and straightforward to implement
Strategies for Academic Success as it stands would not need frequent revising. The advice and information will remain relevant. However, for institutions wishing to customize the resource as a guide for incoming students would review each year and update for current contacts, policies, and procedures. With the thoughtful and logical structure the resource, this would not be difficult.
Relevance Rating: 5 out of 5
Q: The text is written in lucid, accessible prose, and provides adequate context for any jargon/technical terminology used
Writing in the second person speaks directly to the student. Concepts are explained well for this introductory resource. The use of hyperlinks help keep the prose on track while still providing helpful, deeper information for those students wanting a deeper dive. Each adopting institution would need to edit, making sure the proper terminology for its organization and the links to supporting information are used.
Clarity Rating: 5 out of 5
Q: The text is internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework
Each chapter is framed consistently and logically. With the use of headings, bullets, bold text, shaded text boxes, and images, students can easily navigate the resource. I imagine it also instills confidence, when students know what to expect from each chapter.
Consistency Rating: 5 out of 5
Q: The text is easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points within the course (i.e., enormous blocks of text without subheadings should be avoided). The text should not be overly self-referential, and should be easily reorganized and realigned with various subunits of a course without presenting much disruption to the reader.
Great thought was put into the structure of Strategies for Academic Success. The modular and logical design and development facilitate any adaptation by adopters. While it makes sense that the resource speaks directly to the teaching and learning landscape at the University of Saskatchewan, with some effort, institutions could customize. Much of the modular information is relevant to all without mention of the University. Because the text was developed using small chunks of information, an adapter could quite easily zero in on the required customization.
Modularity Rating: 5 out of 5
Q: The topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion
The seven chapters are clearly stated and logically presented. It was especially gratifying to see the importance of "Building Connections" and "Physical and Mental Health" so prominent ~ chapters two and three respectively. Even "Chapter One: Making the Transition to University" references Appreciative Inquiry and speaks to the importance of 'starting positively'.
Organization Rating: 5 out of 5
Q: The text is free of significant interface issues, including navigation problems, distortion of images/charts, and any other display features that may distract or confuse the reader
This resource was accessed online and there were no issues with navigation or display of images. Although not all hyperlinks were tested, those tried were active. There was no multimedia in the resource so common, potential interface issues were avoided.
The majority of images, charts, and diagrams did not appear to have alt text; anyone requiring the assistance of a screen reader would be at a disadvantage.
Interface Rating: 4 out of 5
Q: The text contains no grammatical errors
Strategies for Academic Success follows the American, not Canadian, rules for punctuation with quotation marks. This does not impede the reading or the usefulness of the text; it is simply an observation.
The resource was edited well and is virtually error-free.
Grammar Rating: 5 out of 5
Q: The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. It should make use of examples that are inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds
Language is gender-neutral. Images, often of students, showcase a diverse student population. The resource itself promotes inclusion and respect.
While the content itself is inclusive, presenting it through multiple channels would suit the different preferences of students.
A drawback for inclusion is the lack of attention for those using assistive technology. Graphs, diagrams, and images require alt text and | or links to descriptions that function.
Cultural Relevance Rating: 4 out of 5
Q: Are there any other comments you would like to make about this book, for example, its appropriateness in a Canadian context or specific updates you think need to be made?
Strategies for Academic Success is a wonderful foundation on which institutions can build their own, customized student success resource. As Pressbooks continues to advance, including more of its enhancements would boost students' engagement and interaction with the resource. Congratulations to the University of Saskatchewan's team for creating and sharing this valuable resource.