Academic Skills Know-how (ASK)

ASK stands for Academic Skills Know-how and we are the University of Buckingham’s Academic Skills team! Our aim is to offer you academic skills strategies to support your studies at the university and help you improve your grades.

We specialise in the area of Academic Communication, including all aspects and types of academic writing, critical thinking and presentation skills.

We work with students in all disciplines and at all levels of academic study, from Foundation to PhD students. You may wish to consult us for a one-off session, for example, on revision techniques or book a series of appointments in order to develop your essay structure and build critical thinking into your work.

We offer an inclusive learning environment and support students from a wide range of learning backgrounds. We also welcome students who have been away from education for a while, international students, and those who are looking for the tools to become independent learners.

The ASK team offers you friendly, professional and confidential learning support during your studies. Our aims are to help you to:

  • Develop effective practices for studying at university
  • Have a clearer understanding of what tutors expect
  • Make studying less stressful
  • Achieve better grades

Here are some of the areas we can support you with:

  • Essay structure
  • Managing your workload
  • Becoming a critical thinker
  • Effective reading and research skills
  • Note-taking techniques
  • Referencing and citation
  • Reflective writing
  • Revision and exam techniques
  • Getting started
  • Effective presentations
  • Group work
  • Dissertation writing
  • Finding a learning style that suits the way you work
  • Using academic language
  • Improving your memory and concentration

We can work with you in three ways:

1:1 sessions

These confidential sessions last for 30 minutes and you can book up to four a term according to need.

You can request a 1:1 session by dropping us an email at ask@buckingham.ac.uk. Please let us know the issue you’d like to discuss and times most suitable for you.  We offer 1:1s between 9am-1pm Mondays to Fridays and these take place in CRB107. Please allow plenty of time to book a 1:1; we cannot guarantee allocation of last-minute requests.

You may bring your work with you to the appointment – please also remember the assignment brief/title too if applicable! It is strongly advisable to ensure you allow enough time between the session and your deadline in order to implement any changes. We do not correct your work but can help you understand what is required so you know how to improve it yourself.

Workshops

Our weekly small group workshops take place in a relaxed environment to allow for an informal discussion. We focus on key topics specifically requested by students and believe working in groups, sharing and tackling problems with others in a similar situation, can often be a highly effective way to address common difficulties. We aim to provide the right balance of theory and practical examples with plenty of time for your questions too!

The workshops run from 1.30-2.30pm every Wednesday from Week 2-9 and take place in the Enterprise Hub, 1st floor, Vinson Building.

To reserve your place, send us an email stating which workshop/s you would like to attend. Attend four in any given term and you will receive a certificate of attendance which will help you develop your learning e-portfolio whilst at the University.

View the current term’s programme

Drop-ins

Drop-ins are a very effective way of receiving support for all those last-minute problems that require a quick-fix solution. The great thing about the University campus is that you are never more than 10 minutes away from a daily drop-in! What do you need to do? Just turn up at one of the following times and venues:

Mondays, 2-4pm: Franciscan Library + 4.30-6pm: Hunter Street Library
Tuesdays, 2-4pm: Hunter Street Library
Wednesdays, 2.30-4pm: Vinson Building
Thursdays, 2-4pm: Vinson Building
Fridays, 2-4pm: Hunter Street Library

IMPROVE YOUR GRADES WITH ‘OUT OF THE BOX’ THINKING

We can help you achieve your full potential

Studying for a degree can be a daunting experience for many young people and especially for those with dyslexia. However, this doesn’t have to be the case.

At the University of Buckingham, we ensure our students receive personalised support to help them to thrive not just survive.

What is dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a learning difference formed from a combination of strengths and weaknesses that affects around 10-15 per cent of the population. It results in difficulty with specific areas of learning such as reading, writing, spelling and the processing of information. 45 per cent of students are diagnosed with dyslexia when they reach university, where the raised academic expectations and the additional workload can be overwhelming.

Many individuals with dyslexia excel in flexible problem-solving and big-picture thinking, traits that are often seen in many successful CEOs, lawyers and entrepreneurs. In fact, over 50 per cent of entrepreneurs are dyslexic. Great verbal acuity is another key attribute that is strongly linked with politicians, broadcasters and lecturers.

How can we help?

The University of Buckingham has a successful record of supporting students with dyslexia to good degrees. We are firm believers in the growth mindset and boosting self-esteem which, when combined with teaching targeted, evidence-based strategies in a supportive environment, can give all students a chance to achieve their academic goals.

We offer free dyslexia screenings to students who feel they may have a learning difference with our on-site dyslexia specialist. If screened positively, reasonable adjustments will be put in place while studying here.

We are also creating an inclusive virtual learning environment. Research has shown that a mix of Assistive Technologies (AT) can facilitate dyslexic students’ learning in Higher Education.

What we do

We offer one-to-one support sessions, peer support and workshops to cover areas such as:

  • Academic reading
  • Academic writing
  • Organisational skills
  • Procrastination and motivation
  • Memory and concentration difficulties

We also help students develop their skills in:

  • Meta-cognition (in essence thinking about one’s own way of learning)
  • Critical thinking
  • Mind/argument mapping
  • Speed reading
  • Revision and exam strategies

At the University of Buckingham we recognise that students with dyslexia and other SpLDs are intelligent and motivated and with a little support can achieve their potential.

 Let us support you to make your dreams a reality

“Without the help and guidance in extra classes, I do not think I would have achieved what was only a dream at the beginning; especially after such disappointment in my A-levels. Achieving a First Class Honours Degree in Politics, Economics and Law is and will be one of my major achievements in life and I would like to thank you for making that dream a reality. “

“I know that dyslexia should not be viewed as a hindrance; in fact I would not change it (it’s thanks to you I now think this way), I like the fact that I think differently to others.”

Oliver Stanford, BA Politics, Economics and Law graduate

We are a small team of experts in academic skills development with professional experience of working with all levels of university students.

Dr Philippa Martindale: Academic Skills Co-ordinator

I am a founder member of ASK and have been with the University of Buckingham since September 2018.

I gained a PhD in English Studies from the University of Durham in 2003. I have published material from my research and am currently working on an edited volume. I am also working towards a Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education. I have worked extensively in different universities, and enjoy supporting students from a wide range of backgrounds. I particularly welcome students who are feeling anxious about their studies or who are returning to education after a break.

Contact: I am based in CRB107 and can be contacted by email.

Sarah Myhill: Dyslexia Specialist

I am a dyslexia specialist who holds AMBDA FE/HE (Associate Member of the British Dyslexia Association – Further and Higher Education). I am qualified to assess and teach learners over 16 years of age with specific learning difficulties SpLDs (dyslexia and dyspraxia).

I have an SpLD Assessment Practising Certificate (APC) from the British Dyslexia Association so can offer free dyslexia screenings. I have also completed courses in ADHD Awareness Training and the Introduction to autism and the SPELL Framework in HE.

Contact: I am based in Students First and can be contacted by email.

ASK PALs

Do you have a quick query that might best be answered by someone within your School – but you don’t want to bother your tutor with it? Do you just want to talk to someone about studying in your School more generally? Then one of our ASK PALs may be the person for you! Just drop us an email and we will put you in touch with an ASK PAL from the same school as you.

ASK PALs provide peer-assisted learning and peer mentoring and are perfect for more informal queries. Don’t worry if your question may seem silly! All our ASK PALs are students themselves and have been through many of the same challenges of student life as you.

The ASK PALs are second-year students, mature students or postgrads who are trained and mentored by the ASK team.

Contact: Email ask@buckingham.ac.uk to be put in touch with a PAL.

1) Will you proofread my work?

No, we do not proofread students’ work but you can submit work online for face-to-face or online feedback. We will read and comment on a sample of your work and then advise you on areas that you need to prioritise for development. Please see the University of Buckingham’s policy on proofreading.

2) How do I book an appointment for a 1:1?

Please send us an email at ask@buckingham.ac.uk and let us know the issue you’d like to discuss and times most suitable for you. We endeavour to respond to your request within one working day.

3) Can I book a weekly 1:1 session?

We offer up to four appointments a term according to need. We do not offer ongoing, weekly 1:1 sessions as the aim of ASK is to provide you with strategies to support you in becoming an independent learner.

4) English is not my first language. Can you help me improve my English?

ASK is dedicated to supporting students with academic skills development and can assist you with Academic Communication. We can support you with your essay writing and offer tips on studying in English as a foreign language.

5) Do you offer subject-specific advice?

Unfortunately, we cannot give subject-specific advice. For this, it is best to consult your course tutors or contact one of our ASK PALs if they are in the same school as you.

6) When are the drop-ins?

The drop-ins run every day during term-time. Just turn up – there’s no need to book a drop-in!

Mondays, 2-4pm: Franciscan Library + 4.30-6pm: Hunter Street Library
Tuesdays, 2-4pm: Hunter Street Library
Wednesdays, 2.30-4pm: Vinson Building
Thursdays, 2-4pm: Vinson Building
Fridays, 2-4pm: Hunter Street Library

7) How do I sign up for an academic skills workshop and where do these take place?

Please send us an email at ask@buckingham.ac.uk stating which workshop/s you would like to attend. The workshops run from 1.30-2.30pm every Wednesday from Week 2-9 and take place in the Enterprise Hub, 1st floor, Vinson Building. Please see the current term’s programme.

8) Can I just turn up?

Yes to a drop-in! But due to high demand, you will need to book a 1:1 session and also sign up for the workshops. Please email ask@buckingham.ac.uk for more information.

9) I am a distance learner student and not based at the University. How can you support me?

We aim to support all students at the University of Buckingham, whether on campus or not. If you are a distance learner, drop us an email with your request and together we can work out how best to support you according to your requirements. We may be able to give you advice via email, phone or Skype, or arrange to meet if you do attend on occasion.

10) I have an additional learning need. What support can you offer me?

We offer an inclusive learning environment and can adapt to how we work to suit your requirements. We work with all students on an individualised basis and according to needs using multi-sensory techniques. Please contact us at ask@buckingham.ac.uk to discuss further.

“Finding the academic skills 1:1 sessions was like finding a treasure to me. With the help of the Academic Skills Co-ordinator, my presenting skills became much better, I grew more confident, was able to pitch to the Buckingham Angels, and actually come out with an investment!”

Aisha, Business Enterprise student

“Without your help and guidance in our extra classes, I do not think I would have achieved what was only a dream at the beginning; especially after such disappointment in my A-levels. Achieving a First Class Honours Degree in Politics, Economics and Law is and will be one of my major achievements in life and I would like to thank you for making that dream a reality.

I know that dyslexia should not be viewed as a hindrance; in fact I would not change it (thanks to you I now think this way) I like the fact that I think differently to others ….”

Oliver, Politics, Economics and Law graduate

Please email ask@buckingham.ac.uk for general enquiries or to reserve a space on one of the workshops.

For academic skills enquires, contact Philippa at philippa.martindale@buckingham.ac.uk

For dyslexia enquiries, contact Sarah at sarah.myhill@buckingham.ac.uk