Categories
General

Mental Health Support in the University Library

By Katie Austin

Being away from home for the first time and having to juggle academic life, relationships, socials, and finances can be daunting. Some students thrive but others may need a helping hand. Many of our Library staff are trained Mental Health First Aiders so please reach out to one of us if you are feeling overwhelmed. We can give you our time, useful advice and direct you to specialist services in case you need extra support within the University or further afield.

The University Library can be a busy and bustling place however it also hosts areas of peace and quiet contemplation. In the corner of the Reading Room on the first floor, you will find our Switch off Zone. This is an area with comfy chairs, a peaceful view, mindfulness colouring books and word searches to complete at your leisure. It’s a place to switch off your devices and simply relax for a while. No need to book, please just settle in and unwind.

Nestled alongside the Switch off Zone is a collection of books aimed at supporting your mental health. The Reading Well collection includes books on managing stress, grief, shyness, depression, eating disorders and insomnia among many others. These titles can be borrowed just like everything else, please check them out using the self-service machines within the Reading Room.

Finally, please ask for help if you are struggling with any area of your student life. All of the Library staff are easily identifiable by their yellow lanyards and are happy to signpost and support in any way they can.

You can see the comfy seat and available activities in this photo of the Switch off Zone.
Reading Room Switch off Zone

Categories
Academic literacies General Skills Team

Can Music Help You Study?

In the past 30 years, there has been much debate over whether music can help you study. In 1993 Dr Gordon Shaw reported that a group of college students increased their IQ by as much as nine points just by listening to classical music. However, 10 years later some researchers looked into it and discovered very little evidence for this. This does not mean music has no benefits and though it can’t magically make you more intelligent there are ways, we can use it to assist in our studies and it may also help our brains in other ways.

Marco Verch Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Music as a reward

You probably remember those long nights of studying; you tell yourself I’m going to study this subject till this time, and you think you’ve planned everything perfectly. However, you find yourself losing motivation and by the end of the session you’ve only done half of what you wanted. This is where the reward method comes in, you promise yourself a reward for the end of the study session, such as the latest episode of a show or eating that delicious Ice Cream. Well, this works with music too, research from 2019 suggests music can activate the same reward centres in your brain as other things you enjoy. Rewarding yourself with your favourite music can provide the motivation you need to study, so you can listen to all your favourite music during study breaks.

Memorization

According to a 2014 study, listening to classical music while not making you more intelligent seemed to help people perform better on memory and processing tasks. These findings also suggest certain types of music can help boost memorization abilities and other cognitive functions. Music helps stimulate your brain, similar to the way exercise helps stimulate your body. The more you exercise your muscles, the stronger they become and much in the same way this stimulation is like a cognitive workout for your brain.

Increase focus

According to a 2007 study from Stanford University School of Medicine, music specifically classical music, helps your brain absorb and interpret new information more easily. They also found that music can engage your brain in such a way that it can train you to pay better attention to events and more accurately predict outcomes. So, when you are studying if you struggle to make sense of new material, listening to music could make this process easier. You can also link the ability to make better predictions about events to reasoning skills. Improved reasoning abilities won’t help you pull answers out of thin air, but you may notice a difference in your ability to reason your way to these answers based on the information presented.

Other ways to use music for study

Music can also help reduce stress and promote a more positive mindset. Studies have shown that a good mood generally improves your learning outcomes. You’ll likely be more successful in your studies when you’re feeling good. Also, if you are musically inclined, you could consider writing a song based on what you are studying as our brain seems to process learning songs differently, making it easier to remember. For example, have you ever listened to a song you haven’t heard in a long time and out of nowhere you can just remember the words.

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Music to avoid

Whilst research suggests music may benefit your studies it may not always help:

  • If you listen to loud music with lyrics while trying to read or write it tends to be less efficient and you may come away not making the most of your study session.
  • Loud or agitated music can adversely affect reading comprehension and mood, making focus more difficult.
  • Some Students who use music to help them memorize may need to listen to music while taking the test in order to reap the benefits of this study method,

What could you listen to?

As we’ve discussed most research suggests music without lyrics is the most beneficial for study so when choosing music for studying here are some genres you could try.

  • Classical – Most classical music is mainly instrumental
  • Electronic Music – As long as it’s not really loud and has no lyrics
  • Ambient – A form of instrumental music that uses layers of sound rather than a structured musical beat or melody meaning it has less distractions.
  • World Music – Various kinds of ethnic, folk, and indigenous music from around the world even songs with lyrics might work as long as you don’t know the language.
  • Instrumental Jazz – If you stick to more mellow songs.
  • Instrumental and Atmospheric Rock – If they aren’t loud songs

How to listen to your music?

Most streaming services like Spotify have playlists designed for studying. Whilst you can listen to these for free on some services you can subscribe and get a student account with a discount (available on most streaming platforms) and you won’t get blaring adverts. Most streaming services like Apple Music or Amazon Music have similar playlists, or you can create your own. YouTube is probably the best free source for music although you may get some adverts. Here are a few study playlists you could try.

Spotify Playlist

Apple Music Playlist

Apple Music playlist

Amazon Music Playlist

YouTube Playlist:

This article was written by John Weightman, Digital Skills Intern

Categories
General Internships

Introducing John Weightman

My Internship Adventure Begins

John Weightman

My adventure as an Intern first began with an e-mail from the Hull University Careers team. They were offering a whole range of interesting Internship opportunities for the university. After a difficult start to post-university life due to the COVID pandemic, when job opportunities were limited, I hoped to work in the media possibly as a writer or editor and so began writing my own blog about Music John’s Music Hub. I also worked a few part-time jobs such as writing for a music magazine MXDWN UK. This then led me to think, well I really enjoy writing and with my BA History degree I’ve also showcased my writing qualities. Therefore, I want to focus on an Internship that will give me knowledge in new areas, maybe learn some HTML, and also expand upon my writing abilities. That’s when I saw an internship with the Library Skills Team, where I would support the team in the writing and implementation of the Digital Skills course. Here was an opportunity to further showcase my writing ability and really get my career running and expand into new areas. 

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I’m going on an adventure!

Then I got to work, updated my CV, and wrote my covering letter and I waited a few days, maybe a couple of weeks I don’t recall exactly, and I got an e-mail from Lee Fallin asking me for an interview. The interview with Lee was very pleasant and relaxed he gave me the chance to ask him a few questions whilst he told me all about the internship and ended with him confirming I had the job. Now I just had to wait with bated breath for my internship to begin.

You may wonder how other than my writing skills I can help people learn about digital skills, well let me tell you. As a blogger who runs their own website I have experience in how media is implemented in the digital world as well as how to keep my information safe online. I also learned many digital skills during my time as a university student where I improved my proficiency in Microsoft office and used many digital tools to aid in my study. As a former student, I also feel I would know how best to adapt the information we are delivering to a student audience. I’ve always had an interest in computers and everything digital and since I was about 4 years old, I was already able to use a computer (although mainly for games).

The first day finally arrived after signing all the necessary documents a few days before, as with most people on starting a new job I was a mixture of nerves and excitement. I was also joined by 3 other interns with various different responsibilities for the library or Skills Team, we then got to meet some of the staff including Lee my intern supervisor. The first week mainly consisted of basic training and meetings with all the other staff members as well as going through all the health and safety details. 

I’m now into my second week and have already written a few small sections of the Digital Skills course as well as writing this, my first blog post for the University. This will be the first of several blog entries where I will write about various study skills mainly focused on digital skills.

Categories
General Internships

Introducing: Codey McShane

The start of my virtual internship experience

In the beginning…

Last week, I began an internship working with the Library at the University of Hull, with a focus on Customer Engagement and Communications. The role is entirely based online, and while there is the option to come into the library, it’s not as viable now that I am living back in London after finishing my degree. I studied Computer Science and having been told all that, you might have some of the following questions by now.

  • Who are you, mysterious blog writer?!
  • What is Customer Engagement, and why should I care about it?
  • How can you do internship from home? Who are you making the coffee for?
  • What does Computer Science have to do with customers? Get back to fixing printers!

(It is possible that you did not actually have any of these questions, but for the purpose of the blog, it’s important that you know these things so that in several weeks when I tell you about the amazing progress I’ve made, it’ll all make sense. So, bear with me!)

Wow, those are some great questions! Let me explain a little…

Unmasking the mysterious blog writer 

Codey McShane

Hi there! My name’s Codey. I’m 22 years old and I’ve been at Hull University since 2017. I like reading (fantasy novels mostly), writing (this blog post), martial arts, and dogs. I’ve got red hair, and I’ve got a rare birthmark on the entirety of my right arm. I wear glasses and my hearing isn’t great. I know, I know, I’ve made myself sound way too cool, please forgive me.

Customer Engagement, what is it good for? 

This is a subject we’ll get into a lot more in-depth in my next blog post, where I will have done a lot more work on the subject. For now, I can at least give you the same surface detail that I have. Customer Engagement is all about actively building, supporting, and managing relationships with customers. I’ll explain more about what that means to me and my role specifically next time.

An internship, from the comfort of my own home?

It’s interesting. I’ve spent the last year of my academic study working from home, so you would think I’d be used to it by now. But it still felt weird to be starting a job in my bedroom. However, it’s been very easy to settle in. There’s been so much support and being a part of a group of other interns helps a lot. Over the last week couple of weeks, I’ve spent a lot of time just meeting people and learning about what they do, and with daily meetings over the camera, I really do feel like I’m a part of a team of people, instead of just working alone.

Computer Science with a focus on the customer? You’re mad!

Despite being a Computer Science graduate, I’ve found during my volunteering that one of the things I enjoy most is the opportunity to help people and problem solve. Personally, I don’t think I’d be able to enjoy a job that doesn’t involve some essence of customer service. This internship offers me a great opportunity to look at a professional environment from the perspective of the customer, while also getting some great experience working in a professional environment.

So! Hopefully, that gives you a little bit of an introduction as to who I am and what I’m doing, and I can’t wait to tell you more in my next blog about what I’ve been up to. See you next time!

Categories
General

Beating your top study worries

We asked our volunteers what their top study worries were at the start of their studies. This has helped us come up with this list to address your most common concerns!

Time management

Time management is an important part of university life, especially as it is your responsibility to ensure you manage your university deadlines, alongside your social life and other commitments. If you’ve come to university from school, 6th form or college, this can be quite overwhelming! To help you make the most of time, we’ve developed a full section on Time management in our Introduction to university study SkillsGuide.

Academic writing

Your first piece of written work at university can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. We have several SkillsGuides to help you including the writing academically and essay writing. If you’re stuck where to start, check out our seven top tips for writing academically.

Recommended reading

Reading is an essential part of all university courses, and it is one of the primary ways in which you can engage in self-directed learning. If you’re unsure what to read or where to start, you should check out the reading lists for each of your modules. These are linked in each module within Canvas, but can also be accessed directly via ReadingLists@Hull.

Searching for information

While ReadingLists@Hull is a great place to start, you need to eventually find your own material. This is a particularly important part of written assignments as you will require evidence to support the specific points you are making. The Library has an excellent range of Subject LibGuides that will help you find all the specialist resources we have in your area of study. This can be used alongside our SkillsGuide on Finding books and journals which will help you get the most out of your Subject LibGuide.

Referencing

Referencing can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. For advice on getting started or our full referencing guidelines, check out our Referencing your work SkillsGuide. Think of referencing guidelines as a set of important rules. Follow those rules, and you have nothing to worry about!

Notetaking

We like to think of ‘notetaking’ as ‘note-making’. This is because the most effective notes are not copies of what you have seen, read or heard. If you want to make the most of the notes you create, check out our Notetaking SkillsGuide.

Exams

Whoa! While it may seem a bit early to be worrying about exams, this does seem to be a concern for a lot of students. The important thing at this stage is that you realise your revision starts now. We don’t say this to panic you – just to make the point that ongoing effective notes are a great way to ensure you’re keeping on top of your learning. Check out our Notetaking SkillsGuide for now, and closer to the time you can use our Exams and revision SkillsGuide to make the most of your exam preparations.

Mental health

The University cares about your mental health and wellbeing. Through our Student Wellbeing Team and a range of external partners, we offer a whole range of services to support you. You can find all of these services on the Wellbeing and mental health pages.