This reading week, LSE LIFE workshops are offering students the opportunity to explore areas or techniques that they may not usually spend much time thinking about during the busy terms. Helen Green’s Read-a-thon, and Sara Felix’s workshop on emotional intelligence welcomed students from a range of disciplines to think about how they could improve their experience both academically, and personally.

Helen’s two hour Read-a-thon gave students the chance to experiment with the Pomodoro technique, finding out how they could read in short bursts and try out different methods of taking notes and engaging with a text of their choice.

Reading alongside the students, Helen directed the group through short bursts of intensive reading followed by note-taking, which some of the group of Master’s students felt really highlighted how much they had learned and understood from their reading.

Working within a group, with mobile phones turned off and the awareness that everyone around them was also focusing on their reading, was a positive experience for most of the students, who reported that they felt much less distracted over the two hours than they usually would be (even those who acknowledged they’d brought along a text from an area they didn’t find particularly interesting!). Some students in the workshop were pleasantly surprised to find they’d completed reading their chosen text much quicker than they expected to.

Helen explained that the sessions offered students the chance to consider not only how they felt about their academic reading, but explore why they had adopted their own methods for completing it and what they could potentially change to combat some of the common problems students find when reading academic texts.

The importance of critically analysing their own style was discussed by the students, with some reflecting that the technique really didn’t sit well with their way of working or with the particular text they’d chosen to bring along. At the close of the workshop, students discussed how they felt they could employ the technique much more effectively for some areas, such as course reading or completing a literature review, than others, such as reading very technical texts or reading for revision.

Just as students from the Read-a-thon group considered self-motivation and distraction potential problems, students attending Be 21st century smart: Identify, interpret and improve your emotional intelligence, led by Sara Felix, were also given an opportunity to explore this aspect of themselves.

Combining the use of a specially adapted Emotional Intelligence questionnaire, with supported conversation amongst peers and finally, an opportunity to test their skills in an influence and decision making scenario, students explored emotional intelligence and the impact it can have on day to day life both at home and in the workplace.

Students appreciated the opportunity to try out their ability to influence in a group discussion as they completed a decision making task where each was assigned a ‘motivation’ that they would need to consider as they discussed the question with the rest of their group.

Sara explained that developing a strong understanding of personal strengths and weaknesses, can help with mental wellbeing, relationship building and understanding others. As students discussed their own areas of strength and ideas for working on their weaker areas, Sara also encouraged them to consider the cultural setting and the differences in emotional norms across different cultures.

As students reflected on the session, they were clear that, while they wished it had lasted longer, it had helped them to identify some of their strengths and made them feel more confident that they could understand emotional intelligence and its place in their lives in a new way.

If you have any questions, or would like to discuss running the workshops for students in your department, Helen or Sara would be pleased to hear from you.

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