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We Support Your Ambition: An interview with Study Skills Advisor Dr Andrew Edwards

At The University of Law, we understand that study skills are as vital as the subject you’re studying. That’s why we have dedicated study skills advisors to ensure you’re working to your full potential. Today we’re talking to Study Skills Advisor Dr Andrew Edwards about his work with students and what makes his job so rewarding.

I am the study skills advisor for the Birmingham and Liverpool campuses and support LLB students on the Online campus. My role is home-based, so my work is done remotely. I hold one-to-one appointments with students that take place in my Collaborate room. I also deliver webinars and create study skills resources for Elite too.

My previous roles have all been based in the workplace or on campus, so adjusting to working from home was a new experience for me when we began the first lockdown last year. I discovered that I really enjoyed supporting students remotely, so I jumped at the opportunity to join ULaw as a home-based study skills advisor in March of this year. The staff and students that I have met have been fantastic and I feel excited to be a part of this University. In particular, my colleagues in the Study Skills Team are super friendly and excellent at what they do.

I think it’s important that I’m able to speak to students individually and help them with strategies that suit their own needs. I can help students to develop their study skills and become more effective and independent learners. This helps them to gain their qualification and develop good approaches to learning that they can continue to use in their life beyond university.

I followed this career path as I have a background in English teaching and librarianship earlier in my career. I suited a study skills tutor vacancy in a local university where I live, successfully applied for the job and began to learn more about teaching study skills at university level. I also enrolled on a part-time PhD in English Literature at the same time, which I successfully completed a few years later.

I considered becoming an English literature lecturer, but I’d grown to love teaching study skills over the years and decided that I’d much preferred to continue doing this. I decided to apply for the post I now hold at ULaw, which has been a really rewarding decision for me.

I honestly enjoy everything about my job but if I had to pick one thing, it’s helping students without a doubt. I love being able to talk through study skills problems with students and assisting them in finding solutions that help them to study more effectively. I also love to learn myself and I enjoy finding out how students learn on courses at ULaw.

The work of Stella Cottrell was and remains an inspiration to me, particularly her Study Skills Handbook, which I’d recommend to anyone studying a course at university. In terms of writing, William Zinnser’s approach to non-fiction writing is inspirational too. His book On Writing Well is worth reading.

In terms of career highlights, I think I get the most satisfaction from seeing a student overcome the problems they sought my advice on. That, to me, is always a highlight.

I think publishing my first study skills book, Beat Your Writer’s Block, with Sage was a big moment for me. I’d completed my PhD in 2018, which focused on intertextuality and gender in the work of Alan Moore, the comic book writer. The main thing I enjoyed while being a PhD candidate was the writing process itself. However, like many other students and writers, I’d experienced writer’s block at various times and I’d realised that there wasn’t really a specific guide on writer’s block for students in higher education. I proposed the idea to Sage, the publisher, who commissioned me to write it.

In my spare time, I’m now hard at work writing a second book for Sage on academic writing skills for new students. I continue to write about comics and graphic novels too.

The prospect of continuing to help students is a rewarding one, as is the opportunity to continue to learn about new problems and solutions that students will encounter. I’m looking forward to spending many more years supporting students with their study skills needs.

The most important advice I can give students is not to let anxiety and panic stop them from studying and learning. Seek help and support at the earliest opportunity. Everyone has experienced these feelings at some level, even the most experienced students, tutors and advisors. I know that I have. With the help and support available at ULaw, you will find a way to achieve and shine.

 

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