Learning Skills Services, Student Development Centre


What is Learning Skills Services?

Many universities offer this kind of support to their students. The goal of Western's Learning Skills Services is to make good students even better students. The counsellors answer questions and provide advice on how to be successful at Western. They help students develop new skills or strengthen existing academic skills. Students can choose from a variety of services: they can make an individual appointment with a learning skills counsellor, attend learning skills presentations, drop by the PAL Center, or receive helpful information via e-mail. As well, information on important learning skills topics is available online.

Who uses this service?

Learning Skills Services is for all Western students. Each term students in all years and programs seek information and support to strengthen their skills and improve their grades. Some students want to meet with a counsellor just once, while other students want ongoing support. Students who may especially benefit from Learning Skills Services are new students making the transition from secondary school to university, international students adjusting to a new learning environment, and students facing the new demands of graduate school or a professional program.

Why do students use Learning Skills Services?

There are many reasons why students use Learning Skills Services. Any questions or concerns about school performance are appropriate. If you're unsure if we can help, submit your question by e-mail to learning@uwo.ca or come to the PAL Centre in Room 4139, Western Student Services Building, during hours of operation. If we can't answer your question, we probably know who can. Here are some typical concerns:

  • incomplete class notes: we can teach you how to take better notes
  • low grades: we can explore with you different strategies to increase grades
  • not keeping up with readings/coursework: we can show you approaches to managing time so that you'll be better prepared for classes
  • uncertainty about how to prepare for a test: we can explain to you effective ways of remembering information and studying for test formats such as multiple-choice

Other reasons why you may want to meet with us are:

  • you did well in high school and want to maintain or increase your average
  • you'd like the support of a knowledgable, friendly person to discuss learning issues as you fulfill your degree requirements at Western

Is it confidential? Is it free?

Yes, it is confidential. All information provided to the Learning Skills counsellors is confidential. It will not be shared with family, university staff, course instructors, or others unless you provide written permission. It will not become part of your academic record at Western.

Yes, it is free. You will not be charged for services. A portion of your student fees covers the cost of these services and ensures that they are available to all students free of charge.

How do I access Learning Skills Services?

This varies depending on the service you wish to access:

  • To schedule a confidential individual appointment with a learning skills professional call 519-661-2183 or come to the Student Development Centre in Room 4100, Western Student Services Building. Appointments are scheduled for 50 minutes.
  • You can also come to the PAL Centre in Room 4139 WSS for one-on-one help with a counsellor or senior student volunteer. This is less private than an individual appointment - other students may be dropping by with questions. You do not require an appointment; you just come to the help centre when it's open. You can also get a list of campus help resources, term calendars, and other handouts.
  • You can register for Learning Skills presentations or get information about the schedule or topics through this link.
  • To access learning strategy handouts click here.
  • Our Resource Library includes self-help learning skills books. These are available to you to use in our PAL Centre, Room 4139 WSS during it's hours of operation.

Should I get a tutor?

Before paying for a tutor, in the Fall and Winter terms check out the PAL Centre; year-round meet with a learning counsellor. Get free assistance from counsellors who can help you determine if a tutor is advisable. Bring course materials in order to

  • discuss course issues in a friendly, supportive environment
  • learn about key strategies to deal with your specific concern
  • explore ways to improve your overall effectiveness as a student

How can I take better notes in class?

Taking effective lecture notes is very important as the material covered in class may not always be covered in readings. If your professor provides an outline of the lecture on the course website or at the beginning of the lecture, write it in your notes. Organize your notes during class under the titles and sub-titles given. It is not necessary to write down every word that the professor says. Listen for the main point(s) under each heading and write these in your notes.

At Learning Skills Services we can show Western students how to take effective lecture notes that will help them organize and learn their course material better. Students can bring their notes to the PAL Centre or meet individually with a professional in Learning Skills to get ideas on how to improve the quality and effectiveness of their notes.

I have too many things to do and am behind with my coursework. What should I do?

Managing a large workload is an issue for all university students. As a start, try using a calendar to record due dates and a weekly schedule to write down the tasks that are most important to complete. Try to include some time each week for non-academic activities you enjoy, such as playing a sport or joining a club to meet new people.

Western's Learning Skills counsellors help students create time management plans. Students can meet with a counsellor by going to the PAL Centre or by booking an individual appointment.

My class has a participation mark. What do I need to do?

Asking or answering questions are good ways to start participating in class. Saying something early in the lecture is usually easier than waiting until later. Don't be afraid to share your ideas and opinions; it gets easier with practice. Even asking about something you did not understand in a reading may be viewed as a positive form of participation.

If you would like to discuss your class participation strategies, bring your course outline to the PAL Centre or book an individual appointment with a professional in Learning Skills.

Where can I get help with academic reading?

Academic reading is different from other types of reading, and it is useful to learn strategies which will help you identify and remember the most important information. Reading with some specific questions in mind will help improve your understanding and memory of the material.

For help with this strategy, meet with a counsellor in the PAL Centre or in an individual appointment. You can also register on-line for Learning Skills presentations, including one on Effective Textbook Strategies.