Institute for Academic Development
Institute for Academic Development

Study guidance

Approaches to advising students who come to you for help with their studies.

Learning how to learn is an unfolding process, subject to continual refinement. Any student may therefore encounter study difficulties at some time, and will benefit from an opportunity to take stock, identify stumbling blocks to progress and experiment with new ways of tackling academic work.

Handling initial enquiries

Be reassuring: many students who come to ask for assistance on study skills often just need reassurance that they are on the right lines.

Typical problems and questions asked by students and suggestions for how to respond are described in our practicalities of study guidance guide.

Exploring an issue in more detail if needed

Even the ablest of our students may at some point falter or stumble, perhaps because the demands of the subject have taken a new and unfamiliar turn, perhaps for seemingly extraneous reasons — financial worries, or a pressing personal problem.

Our guidance note on advising students with academic difficulties presents a three step approach to offering study guidance.

Advising students with academic difficulties: guidance note (PDF)

In brief, the three step approach is:

Step 1: Clarify the situation

  • establish facts
  • ascertain feelings
  • explore the background

Step 2: Pinpoint the problem

  • talk it through
  • focus on concrete examples
  • review methods and purposes

Step 3: Work out a course of action

  • explore alternatives
  • agree a realistic plan of action
  • monitor and follow-up advice given