Study Tips

Academic Self-Efficacy: Upgrading Your NeckTop Computer

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Did you know that you are walking around with one of the most amazing computers right on top of your shoulders!?!

Yes, your NeckTop Computer! Even this wonderful organic machine needs software upgrades now and then. Teach it how to learn, remember and adapt. By consistently learning, you upgrade your software, which makes your life so much easier because you can understand information at a quicker pace, store that information longer and be able to show off just how much you have learned by being able to handle those pesky quizzes, tests or exams 😉

BrainComputer.pngBrain Facts

  • About 100 billion neurons make up the human brain.
  • Each neuron connects approximately 10,000 neutrons together.
  • The human brain weighs about 3 pounds.
  • The cerebral cortex grows thicker the more it is used. That means you have more neural networks to process information and more memory capacity. The more you learn, the better your brain gets.
  • For all of you environmentalists…your NeckTop computer is powered bio-electrically! Just eat things that are healthy for you…feed and power this computer!

Learning How to Learn

Learning how to learn starts with developing your Academic-Self Efficacy; the belief that you have the skills necessary to successfully complete your courses and that you have the ability to improve, when necessary. For example…


  • Knowing how to schedule time to accomplish tasks.
  • Knowing how to take notes.
  • I knowing how to study to perform well on tests.
  • Knowing that you are good at research and writing papers.
  • Knowing and feeling that you are a very good student.
  • Having the experience of usually doing very well in school and at academic tasks.
  • Consistently finding ways to make your academic work interesting and absorbing (even when it is not at first).
  • Knowing that, despite obstacles, you are very capable of succeeding in your post-secondary program.

4 Ways to Develop Academic Self-Efficacy Beliefs

  • Performance accomplishments: The experience of mastery influences your perspective on your abilities. Successful experiences lead to greater feelings of self-efficacy. However, failing to deal with a task or challenge can also undermine and weaken self-efficacy.
    • If you avoid doing class presentations because you feel anxious or nervous, you never have the opportunity to improve, adapt, develop skills and believe that you can do this. Yes, despite how anxious you are, you can learn to at least survive presentations. I did.
  • Vicarious experience: Observing someone else perform a task or handle a situation
    can help you to perform the same task by imitation, and if you succeed in performing a task, you are likely to think that you will succeed as well, if the task is not too difficult. Observing people who are similar to yourself succeed will increase your beliefs that you can master a similar activity

    • Look around your classroom and your life. Who seems to “have it all together” or seems to know how to write papers, to study or to write tests. Ask them about their process. Observe, try and improve based on the experience of others.
  • Verbal persuasion: When other people encourage and convince you to perform a task, you tend to believe that you are more capable of performing the task. Constructive feedback is important in maintaining a sense of efficacy as it may help overcome self-doubt.
    • Ask for feedback from friends, classmates, professors/instructors or tutors. Learn from the constructive; learn from the encouragement.
  • Physiological states: Moods, emotions, physical reactions, and stress levels may influence how you feel about your personal abilities. If you are extremely nervous, you may begin to doubt and develop a weak sense of self-efficacy. If you are confident and feel no anxiety or nervousness at all, you may experience a sense of excitement that fosters a great sense of self-efficacy. It is the way people interpret and evaluate emotional states that is important for how they develop self-efficacy beliefs. For this reason, being able to diminish or control anxiety may have positive impact on self-efficacy beliefs.
    • Learn about YOUR brain. Learn more about this awesome computer. I have written extensively on emotion regulation, stress management, anxiety, check out some of my other posts to learn more about managing, understanding and improving your own NeckTop computer.

Adapted from the following source: Click Here


Step-by-Step Process


  • Academic Self-Efficacy Mindset: Start with building your Academic Self-efficacy mindset (above). This prepares your mind for the software upgrade process
  • Study Skills Questionnaire: Start with an assessment of your study skills tool kit. What you have; what you need.
  • Study Skill Toolbox: Make a list of skills that you already have. Make a plan for the areas you would like to improve (upgrade the software).
  • Software Upgrade: Start searching online or in human interactions, for tips, strategies to learn different ways of improving in the following areas:
    • Project Managing Your Academic Experience: Organization & Time Management
    • Note-Taking Strategies: Capturing the Knowledge
    • Leaning into Your Studies: Attitude, Learning Style, Active Learning and Memory Enhancement.
    • Being Tested: Strategies for Writing Quizzes, Tests and Exams.
    • Learning to Communicate: Research and Writing Skills
    • Presentations: Learning the Tips & Tricks
    • Working in Groups: Strategies for Making the Process Smooth and Effective.
*I used to have a 1969 VW Beetle that I painted red foot prints running from the back, over the top to the front. I could totally post rationalize that it was because I so strongly believed in the step-by-step human growth and change process, but really it was because I loved bare feet, I was very poor and the red paint was free 😉 I have grown 😉

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Study Skills Questionnaire


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Let me know what you think, what topics you would like me to cover or ideas you have. I would really LOVE to hear from you 🙂

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD (Counselling Psychology)

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success

Perseverance: 11 Strategies to Help You Stay on Track

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“When the world says, Give up, Hope whispers, Try it one more time” ~ Author Unknown

The end of the semester is difficult. This is where pursuing your dreams is the most difficult and you need to find every last bit of your strength to finish successfully. You have it within you, you’ve made it this far! So…I have some tips designed to help you in this last crucial push to the end.

  1. Work hard.

Now is the time to put in the hours, you must work hard, find the strength. This is about perspective. Imagine how you are going to feel when you have successfully completed all exams. Use this as your goal. This is short term pain. My question to you is, “How hard are you willing to work to achieve your goals?”

  1. Quiet the voice of resistance.

If you are like me, often you when things get very difficult, there can be a voice in your head that wants you avoid discomfort and stay in your comfort zone. It’s the voice that says: “I can’t”. “It won’t work”. “That’s a dumb idea”. “You’re not smart enough”. Talk back to the voice! Prove it wrong. Step outside your comfort zone, that is where the learning is.comfort-zone

  1. Take action.

You need to just ignore the discomfort, make a plan, work through the list and get moving. Breakdown all your tasks into manageable pieces, take breaks, reward yourself, move onto the next item. You must do what you say you’re going to do. Taking action wipes out fear. Believe me…it works!

  1. Maintain enthusiasm.

Keep your spirits high. Know your “big why.” Why do you want what you want? Do you want to complete your program? So you want that sense of accomplishment? Create visual reminders of your “big why.” Place them where you’ll see them every day. Be inspired by your future.

  1. Be creative.

Sometimes you need to be creative about how you approach difficult tasks. Yes, it is painful to sit at a desk and just keep studying. Why wouldn’t you avoid that!?!? I would! Try combining two things, work and reward. Find a new café to study at. The new surroundings can be inspiring and can be something that you will look forward to doing.

  1. Act like a grown up.

Take responsibility. Let go of blame and excuses. Don’t whine and complain. Be willing to do what it takes. Go the extra mile. Do it with a smile on your face. Just get it done!

  1. Do one more thing.

In spite of how you feel, complete one more small task, write one more page, create one more video. When you want to quit, set your timer for 15 more minutes. Keep on keepin’ on.

  1. Let go.

What bad habit holds you back? Where do you waste time? Where do you lose ground? Turn off your TV, games and other distractions. Let go of bitterness, resentment and anger. Get help if you have to. Put your new found energy into your dream.Let Go

  1. Prepare.

Begin your day with quiet time, meditation or journaling, going to the gym; whatever routine works for you. This will give you clarity. Then, choose three of your most important tasks. This is your quick “Momentum To-Do List”. Don’t check email or surf the net until you complete these tasks. Don’t allow for interruptions. Be 100% focused on your work.

  1. Create a support network.

Find people who are doing what you want to do and be around them. Get a mentor. Hang out with positive people. Build a community that supports the best version of you.

  1. Take care of yourself. 

Keep up your energy. Try to eat healthy and exercise. Take scheduled breaks. Always make room for fun and play. Don’t dwell on your mistakes. Spend time with your family and friends. Keep a balance of study and play. Without a break, your brain does not work as efficiently converting short-term memory to long-term memory.

It’s a choice to persist, dig deep and take action when it feels like the work is too hard.  It’s the willingness to overcome exhaustion, resistance and unpleasant circumstances. It’s the courage to work hard, stick-to-it and press on no matter what, that helps you achieve your goals. This is the time to push and see what you are capable of.

I would love to hear from you or help in any way. Feel free to contact me:

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD (Counselling Psychology)

Counsellor * Coach * Professor * Passionate Advocate for Student Success

Adapted from:

Quick Learning Strategy Tip! A Simple Mindset that Encourages Long-Term Memory

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Learn it Like You Will Be Teaching it!

Recent research by Nestojko, Bui, Kornell & Bjork (2014) explored the effect a mindset can have on learning. What they found is that people who are learning new information with the intention of teaching it to someone else retained more information that those who where just learning it for a test.

The Researchers Explain…

“When compared to learners expecting a test, learners expecting to teach recalled more material correctly, they organized their recall more effectively and they had better memory for especially important information.The immediate implication is that the mindset of the student before and during learning can have a significant impact on learning, and that positively altering a student’s mindset can be effectively achieved through rather simple instructions.”

For you PsychNerds like me, this is called “Relational Processing”. This is yet more research supporting that we often function better as connected human beings.


When you are studying today, think about teaching what you have learned to someone else. Focus on the main points that you would need to tell the other person so that they understand. Try it! This is a super easy way to make your studying easier and more effective.

Your mindset can help to decrease the amount of times that you need to go over the material to learn it.

Less study time = More time for fun!

I look forward to hearing from you!
Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD Counselling Psychology

Success Coach * Professor * Counsellor

Mohawk College, Fennel Campus, The Square – C102/20

Source: Nestojko, J. F., Bui, D. C., Kornell, N., and Bjork, E. L. (2014) Expecting to teach enhances learning and organization of knowledge in free recall text passages. Memory & Cognition, 42(7), 1038-1048

Weekly Study Tip: Work First Play Later!

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One of the most important things I learned in school was to get my homework done first and then go out with friends. This was very hard to learn, but was so worthwhile! Wanting to do homework was definitely not natural for me; I would way rather be with my friends.

Why do this? 

Why this was a helpful strategy is because when I was with my friends I could really relax and fully enjoy my “down time”. If I had work to do, and procrastinated, I was never really able to relax. Having a balance between the demands of school and time with friends is so important to your success. You need to let your brain relax once in a while so that it can do its job better.


Find interesting and fun study spots that you look forward to studying in. I love café’s and interesting spots on campus. Follow me on Instagram this semester! I will be putting up fun places, on and off campus, for you to try out. Try to make it as fun as it can be so that you don’t completely dread it.

I would love your feedback on this blog! Contact me anytime or meet with me in person 🙂

Follow me on Instagram! 


Heather Drummond, M.Ed. (Counselling Psychology)

Success Coach * Professor * Counsellor

Mohawk College-Fennell Campus-“The Square“-C102/20

Weekly Study Tip – Organization

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Organizing Your Questions & Thoughts

So, you are now 2 weeks into your semester and it can start to feel like so much information and expectations are coming at you too quickly. What I found useful in getting organized, was to carry a small notebook with tabbed sections for each class. In this notebook, I would write down what I didn’t understand or what questions I had for my professors after each class. This way, I knew what I needed to focus on. Also, this creates a handy list of questions that you can ask a Peer Tutor or your professor.

Did you know that you can book an appointment with a Mohawk Peer Tutor, for FREE!?!?

Yup, here is a link to the information to get you started: CLICK HERE for Peer Tutor Info.

Let me know if I can help you get more organized this year. Happy to help 🙂

Heather Drummond, M.Ed.

Success Coaching @ Mohawk College

Link to Counselling Services

Weekly Study Tip: Music & Learning – Baroque Music

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Focus Music

Well, you are one week into school and you may be feeling like it is hard to focus and get your work done with so many new and exciting things happening around you. This is a great time to introduce you to the power of using music to enhance your focus, particularly Baroque music.

There are fascinating studies on music and its effect on concentration and learning that have yielded incredible results.  Baroque music, typified by composers such as Mozart and Bach, is played at approximately 60 beats per minute and activates both sides of the brain, effectively increasing the listener’s learning capacity and the retention of information.

Try it out!!

I swear by the effects on my focus and motivation. It is to the point that all I need to do is start playing my favourite collection and my brain just knows what to do. Remember that you need to give it a chance. Try it out for 14 days consistently. Build the habit and train your brain to focus!


Here is a link to the music I use regularly:


Simply Baroque

More information:

Book: The Mozart Effect

Tip Sheet: Music Can Move Your Brain Waves to Benefit You! 

Research: Music Helps Students Retain Math

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Let me know how it works for you!

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD (Counselling Psychology)

Counsellor * eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success

Fennell Campus – “The Square” C102/20

You always book an appointment, on campus, with a counsellor by calling 905-575-2211 or booking in The Square (Fennell), for personal, academic and career counselling.

Weekly Study Skill Tip #1

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Goal Setting for a Successful Semester

“By losing your goal, You have lost your way” – 

Friedrich Nietzsche

Set your goals well this year, keeping in mind what works best for you. Check out this resource to learn more about how to set achievable and attainable goals:

SMART Goal Setting