Monday, 7 April 2014

Victus study skills: a review

Learning to study efficiently is an underrated skill and something that I felt would be helpful for Middle Son, aged 13, so I was delighted to have the opportunity to review Victus Study Skills System products.

Victus Study Skills Review
We received the Victus Study Skills System Student Workbook and the Victus Study Skills Teacher Edition.

Victus Study Skills Review
These are both spiral bound books which are designed to be used with students in grades 5 to 12 which correspond to UK years 6 to 13. The Workbook has 65 pages and the Teacher Edition has 82 pages. There are ten lessons which are designed to be used either over a week or spread over a couple of weeks. Each lesson takes about half an hour. We chose to use the books over a fortnight.

The System is based on three questions:
  • Where am I now?
  • Where do I want to be?
  • How do I get there?
The books work through aims- both long term and short, learning style, organising time and space, reading and note taking techniques and more.

The idea is that the parent, or teacher, goes through the lesson, with the child before the child completes the workbook.

The teacher workbook has three sections: an introductory section which explains about the course, possible teaching schedules and has a list of helpful techniques to make the programme relevant and useful to the child: a section which explains how to introduce and teach each lesson along with copies of what is in the student book and for the worksheet type pages, the correct answers. The last section is an appendix with extra materials including goal setting forms, information about ways of organising work and a particularly useful list of mnemonic devices and strategies.

What we thought about the programme
Looking at study skills was helpful and Middle Son found the learning style questionnaire and the list of suggestions for each learning style particularly helpful. It was helpful to develop awareness about the way he learns as well as making aims clear. 
Several of the lessons had sheets to complete of a fill-in the-correct-word-in the space format which was really quite tedious. Middle Son became quite fed up with these. The teacher manual has copies of correctly completed sheets but this doesn't seem to be the best way of learning particularly for children of this age and leads to concern, from the child, about whether synonyms are appropriate or not. The lessons with different activities: goal setting, time management, learning style questionnaire, note taking were more valuable.
The Teacher Edition felt "schooly". Students are mostly described in the plural and the lessons were structured in a way that one would teach to a class rather than the way that an individual child would be mentored.
The appendices are particularly useful and their content should not be ignored. Some of the most helpful time management resources were in this part of the book, in particular, the 168-hour exercise.

This is a useful resource and something which should be introduced to teenagers. Much of the content was useful but changing the worksheet style pages to something more open ended would improve the retention of the contents.

The teacher edition costs $40 (about £24.13) and the student edition $20 (about £12.06). I note that there is also a student DIY edition for $25 (about £15.08) but did not review this. This might be ideal for families where the mother is having to be split in several directions during work time!

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