Module 4 - Academic Skills and Technologies

Academic Skills and Technologies


Your first year at university will involve a steep learning curve that includes ‘learning how to learn’. The good news is that if you invest your time and energy in learning these new skills in your first semester/trimester, you will be more likely to succeed and optimise your academic potential for the remainder of your studies. These skills include active learning, critical reading, academic research and writing, referencing, exam preparation, English language and numeracy development, as well as navigating academic technologies.

How will this module help me?

  • Understand the core academic skills required to be successful
  • Appreciate the variety of different assessment types at JCU
  • Learn where to go for online resources and professional staff support

How long will this module take?

30 minutes

Active Learning

As we have previously discussed in GetReady4Uni, university students must be proactive, independent learners and it is important to ‘study smarter not harder’ as part of that ethos. The JCU Learning Centre website provides a range of self-paced Active Learning resources that provide tips and advice about note-taking, the academic writing process, mind mapping, oral presentations, learning styles, and group work to help you prepare for success in your higher education studies. You can learn more about these by attending the Keys to Academic Success session in O Week – see Orientation Program. There is also a short course offered in orientation about Getting the Most From Your Readings that helps you read more efficiently and develop strategies to interact creatively and critically with the information you have to read for your course – registrations are required.

Assessment Types

The Learning Centre also provides a wealth of information about the different Assignment/Assessment types you are likely to encounter across your degree. These include critical, scientific, and reflective essays; business, scientific, and laboratory reports; critical and literature reviews; as well as annotated bibliographies and oral presentations. The online resources outline the purpose of each assessment type, their varying structures, different usages of academic language, some discipline examples, and useful links. It is important to remember that you are a professional in training, so assessments/assignments should not be viewed as annoying hurdles along the way, but as opportunities to practice working to a brief and deadline, responding to critical feedback, and honing your effective communication skills, which are all important employability skills.

Research and referencing

Finding quality sources of information for your assignments is critical for your academic success. JCU Library has many online resources to help you plan your search and find the most relevant resources for your assignments:

InfoSkills Toolkit – a series of modules that takes you step-by-step through the information and research process.

Using One Search – One Search is the Library’s search tool. It searches through our catalogue and our subscribed resources and can also be used to search for material beyond the library collection.

Referencing is also a critical skill to develop and the JCU Referencing Guide is your portal to all the major referencing styles at James Cook University. These include APA, Chicago, Harvard, MLA, AGLC, and Vancouver styles – your Subject Outline in LearnJCU will provide details about the referencing style you are required to use. It is important to note that your course may use multiple different referencing styles for different subjects. Please contact the Library to get personalised assistance with research and referencing, and learn who your Liaison Librarian is for your course of study.

Academic Writing

A common concern for new students is their academic writing ability and for some students it has been a long period of time since they have had to undertake any formal writing. It is one of the most important skills to spend time developing at university as effective communication remains one of the most desirable skills for graduate employment. The suite of JCU resources about Academic Writing includes simple, self-paced workbooks about sentence and paragraph structuring, punctuation, paraphrasing and plagiarism, writing essays, reports and online content, and top tips for effective grammar. There is also a free Academic Writing Short Course offered during orientation to support skill development for writing varying academic texts. This hands-on short course gets you to start one of your first assignments – registrations are required.

English Language and Numeracy Development

For some students, their course will require the use of mathematics and statistics. It is helpful to undertake a refresher of these basic concepts before you commence your subjects, and the JCU Learning Centre provides dozens of short self-paced workbooks about Maths Refresher and Statistics topics. There is also a Maths Refresher Short Course provided on the weekend of O Week to help build confidence and competency in students returning to maths or in need of a refresher. A Basic Statistics Short Course is also provided for students during orientation who will need to collect, organise, analyse and interpret statistical information as part of their field of study – registrations are required for both free short courses.

It is also helpful to review the English Language for Academic Purposes resources before you commence your studies, particularly if you need an in-depth refresher about grammar and punctuation, or English is your second language. These are the building blocks of academic writing and your understanding of their usages can significantly improve the reader’s comprehension of your ideas (and your associated grades).

Exam Preparation

Exam preparation involves getting organised, practising revision over a long period of time, and identifying gaps in understandings and seeking relevant help from lecturers, tutors, and support staff. JCU provides a wide range of Exam resources to help with your understanding of exam types, exam question types, preparing for exams, what to expect on exam day, taking online exams, and reflecting on your exam performance.

It is normal to feel worried about exams as it provides a level of helpful motivation to study, however too much stress can stop you performing at your best. The JCU Student Equity and Wellbeing team has online information about managing exam stress (PDF, 117 KB), and students are encouraged to contact the service and book an appointment with a counsellor early in the semester to discuss coping strategies, if they have experienced exam anxiety in the past or it has recently activated.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is the commitment to act ethically, with honesty, respect and fairness in creating and communicating information in an academic environment. This applies to both staff and students. In short, it means to produce original work and use other people’s academic work with honesty and acknowledgement. The opposite of this is academic misconduct. This is to act with dishonesty. Academic misconduct includes using another person’s work without acknowledging the source (plagiarism), creating false data, or cheating on an exam. Academic misconduct carries serious penalties at JCU, including exclusion from the University.

JCU takes an educative approach to academic integrity and has launched a new Coursework Academic Integrity Policy and Procedure in January 2021.

What do you need to do?

  1. Familiarise yourself with the policy and procedures, in particular your responsibilities as a student.
  2. Complete the Coursework Academic Integrity modules on LearnJCU – if you are a new student this should be within six months of your first subject enrolment.
  3. Keep a look out for the student bulletin advising you when the Coursework Academic Integrity modules are available on LearnJCU.
  4. Check out the resources available on Academic Integrity at the Learning Centre website.

Learning Online

One of the keys to academic success in the 21st century is your engagement with learning technologies, which include LearnJCU, Studiosity, and LinkedIn Learning. During COVID, many university students have been required to undertake online learning and JCU has provided a wealth of tips, advice and resources to help you successfully study online – please go to the Learning Online website for more information.

LearnJCU is JCU’s virtual learning environment and where you will find online content specific to your subjects, including subject outlines, class information, lecture materials and recordings, virtual classrooms, subject readings, assessment information, grading and feedback, and discussion boards.

Studiosity provides free after-hours learning and writing support to JCU students via Tools in your LearnJCU subject sites.

LinkedIn Learning provides online, video instruction for the development of information technology, communication, leadership, education, and creative skills.

Take the Quiz

Test your knowledge of Academic Skills and Technologies by taking the quiz.

Take the Quiz
Which professional support service at JCU can help you with your active learning and academic writing?
Does each course at JCU have a designated Liaison Librarian?
Which of these definitions describes academic integrity?
What is the name of JCU’s virtual learning environment?