Feeling excited? Nervous? Wondering what’s ahead, how you’ll do? University life can be exhilarating, nerve-wracking, and illuminating. Academic Culture and Expectations (ACE) is a guide developed for students from cultures from around the world that provides advice to help you ‘ACE’ your time at Trent.
An introductory video for you:
Let's Start with you!
Did you study in the Canadian school system or in another country? Did you learn in English or another language? Did you have instructor-led classes or a more student-driven model?
You bring unique strengths and good skills with you to Trent, and to reach your full potential as a student, you will want to build on your strengths, be open to new ideas, new ways of thinking, and new approaches to learning. Quick tips for adjusting to university
Learning New Terminology
The new academic environment at Trent may seem foreign to you at first. This glossary of common terms used at Trent will help get you started.
Learning at Trent
Education at Trent reflects the Canadian individualist culture, where individual effort, reward, and ideas are highlighted through independent learning and students taking control of their own learning.
Independent students actively control their own learning through critical thinking.
During lectures and seminars students should listen, engage, think, take notes, and question the material being presented. Get the most from lectures.
While doing course readings, students should ask questions, think about the concepts, and how the reading connects to other ideas in the course. Get the most from your readings.
You may have come from a school environment where memorization is highly valued. While memorization plays an important part in your learning at Trent, critical thinking is also highly valued. Critical thinking is an essential skill for fully understanding complex concepts and ideas. This short video explains critical thinking:
Working in Groups
As well as independent learning at Trent, there are many opportunities for group learning inside and outside of the classroom.
Participating in Seminar, Tutorials, and Labs
Students participate in seminars, tutorials, and labs. By completing readings prior to class and participating in the class discussion you can learn from each other. This brief video provides tips on class participation.
Participating in Science Labs
At Trent, collaboration begins in first-year science labs where students work in groups to perform experiments. All group members have equal voices and share goals of completing the experiment and recording data. Lab reports are then written individually. This online guide explains how to write lab reports.
Participating in Group Projects
Some assignments at Trent are based on group projects. Your group may research and develop a position, organize ideas, and create a cohesive report. Your group may collaborate on writing the report and all group members are expected to contribute to the project. Watch this video on Strategies for Effective Group Work.
Technology and Productivity
As an independent learner you will benefit from knowing how to navigate and use various computer tools. Here are a few resources to help you get familiar with Trent’s technology:
- How to use the Blackboard learning system
- How to use technology tools at Trent
- How to find resources with Omni at Trent library
Workload at Trent
The workload at Trent may be heavier than what you are used to, and the work is spread over the entire semester. Most courses require students to write assignments; shorter assignments may be due weekly and longer assignments generally require several weeks to complete. Evaluation may also consist of several short quizzes, mid-terms, or final exams. This online guide offers tips for time management and this short video explains how to make a to-do list that works.
Writing at Trent
Writing assignments at Trent foster critical thinking and communication skills that are required at university and beyond. There are many different types of writing that you may not be familiar with. Here are some tips on writing assignment that you may encounter at Trent.
Most writing assignments and testing reflect independent work and adhere to the rules of academic integrity. This means that the principles of honesty, trust, fairness, respect, and responsibility must be upheld by all. Watch the following video to learn more about Academic Integrity at Trent and read this guide on how to avoid plagiarism.
Accessing Academic Supports
If all of this is sounding a bit scary, do not be alarmed! There are many supports in place to help you at Trent. Most students at Trent will seek academic support at various points in their university journey.
Course Specific Support
For course-content help, start by reviewing your course Blackboard site, looking at your textbook, and reviewing your course syllabus (on Blackboard) for more information. If you still have questions, you could attend Professor or Teaching Assistant office hours. Find these times in your course syllabus. This short video provides advice on how to email your teaching assistant or professor.
Academic Skills instructors are in each of the Colleges and at Trent Durham and can help you with academic writing, skill building, and numeracy. We offer free, 45-minute, confidential individual appointments.
The Academic Skills website contains lots of information that will help you with managing your time, writing different types of assignments, using different types of sources, documenting your sources and much more!
Academic Skills Tool Kit
Look for The Academic Skills Tool Kit in many Blackboard sites. The Tool Kit offers learning support for that course, and you will find short videos, tools, and templates on study skills, time management, writing resources, and much more!
Academic Skills Learning Labs
Learning Labs allow you to practice student-tested tips, tools, and strategies to help you learn at university. These are short 30-minute sessions, where we focus on a different learning strategy each week. They are offered in-person and via zoom. Topics include managing time, procrastination, reading and notetaking, writing, as well as studying and exam prep.
Orientation sessions conducted by Academic Skills are available in the beginning of each semester. These sessions are geared towards getting you started academically at Trent and may include topics such as: Managing the University Reading Load, Time Management Tips, and a Mock Lecture with Note Taking Tips