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A New Year, a new resolve to reach your goals

By: Dr. Connie Covey, AU Counselor

The New Year provides an opportunity to reexamine your priorities and reassess your habits—and to resolve to achieve your career and educational goals.

Have you ever thought, “How do I successfully complete an AU course?” It’s a great question! Students have discovered the following things can contribute to becoming a successful online learner.

Examine your expectations

First, examine your expectations about online learning. Online learning is different than in-person learning. With the exception of a small number of grouped study courses, AU undergraduate courses are not classroom based or instructor led. Rather courses are completed by individualized study and self-guided learning.

This means that you do not have an instructor guiding you through the course. The course is laid out and you complete the course on your own. If you are not sure how a course is structured or how your performance in the course is evaluated, you may consult the course syllabus on the AU website.

Call on your tutor

When you register for a course, you will be assigned a course tutor. The tutor will introduce themselves at the beginning of your course and will inform you of their contact information as well as their tutoring/office hours. You can call them anytime during their tutoring/office hours without booking an appointment.

It is important to note that your tutor is not an instructor and therefore will not be providing you with instruction as you work your way through the course. Your tutor will mark your assignments, quizzes, and exams, and assign your final grade. Do not hesitate to reach out to your tutor if you have a question as you prepare an assignment, prepare for an exam, or have a question about a mark that you received.

Limit course load for faster progress

If you wish to progress quickly through your courses and earn high grades, you will find that most achievable when you study one or two courses simultaneously rather than studying four or five courses simultaneously. The more courses you study at the same time, the less time you have for each course which may also result in lower marks.

Study every day

Students who experience the least amount of stress and anxiety also tend to study their courses every day of the week. Also, by avoiding extended breaks in study time there is less chance of forgetting important course material and the easier it is to prepare for a quiz or exam.

Consider the learning objectives

You can improve the effectiveness of their study time by using the learning objectives/outcomes listed at the beginning of each unit of your course when completing that unit. By making a note for yourself of where you found each learning objective in the course materials, it will be easy for you to use your notes to study for a quiz or an exam.

Get invested

The more you personally invest in your course, the higher your chance of success. For instance, when you see a direct link between your course and your career, that makes the course material come alive. Also, when students pay for courses themselves, there is a sense of intrinsic motivation to complete the course successfully.

Make a plan

Students who have a plan, including how they will structure their time and study each day, are more likely to be successful. Students who pay attention to their study habits and assess if their study habits are effective, ineffective, or hindering their performance can make adjustments when necessary and improve their academic performance.

You can find more helpful study tips on the AU Counselling Services website. If you wish to discuss your study habits, you can schedule an appointment with an AU Counsellor by sending an email to or filling out the appointment request form.

Dr. Connie Covey is a counsellor at Athabasca University, and was formerly a tutor for PSYC 200, PSYC 300, and PSYC 401. She has completed a Bachelor of Administration and a Master of Counselling through AU, and a Doctor of Education through the University of Calgary, focusing on workplace and adult learning.

Filed Under:
  • December 31, 2020
Tagged In:
New Year, tutor, tutoring,
Guest Blog from:
Dr. Connie Covey, AU Counselor