Student Learning Commons: Learning workshops

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This is a list of all learning workshops offered by the Student Learning Commons. All upcoming workshops intended for undergraduates are listed here.  Graduate students may also attend these workshops.

All SLC Learning Workshops (other than those offered within courses or programs) are recognized on the Co-Curricular Record (CCR), an official University document that tracks students’ co-curricular involvement at SFU. Learn more about the Co-Curricular Record
For further information about SLC workshops and services, contact us.

Workshop support for instructors 

Are you a professor or program leader interested in requesting a writing workshop for your course or group? Check out our information for instructors page for support options, including the request a workshop form. 

With sufficient notice, you can request any of the workshops below or a combination of topics customized to meet your students' needs.

Complete list of learning workshops

Concentration Strategies

Learn valuable tools and strategies to stay more focused when studying and to deal with internal and external distractions.



Creating an Effective Study Schedule

Would you like to use your time better?  Effective time management is not about being “the perfect student” but is based on self-awareness of your priorities and habits.  Attend this workshop to begin the process of self-awareness and move towards realistic scheduling.

Educational Goals:  Students will gain self-awareness around the activities that make up their lives and the amount of time available to them to use for schoolwork.  They will learn how much schoolwork is optimal as well as various strategies towards managing their deadlines, workloads and other commitments.  Throughout, they will learn to emphasize self-awareness and realism in the planning process.



Critical Reading & Thinking

Professors and TAs often talk about the need to think critically, but few actually explain what critical thinking is or how to do it. We will go through what critical thinking is, and what questions to ask to promote critical thinking, right from the first time you read a piece.  Through activities and resources, you will gain insights that will help you build this crucial skill.

Educational Goals: Students will learn how to create optimal conditions to enhance their ability to read and think critically.  They will learn strategies such as self-questioning techniques, seeking diverse perspectives, identifying assumptions, distinguishing facts from opinions, and identifying the strength of arguments.


“Crunch time” Survival 101

Panicky about deadlines and upcoming exams? Or are you in avoidance mode now and the stress will hit you later? Either way, come learn how to deal with exams… and with your own worst “crunch time” habits!

Educational Goals:  Students will leave with strategies around managing their deadlines and final exams, as well as their own stress, study habits, and study strategies at the most demanding time of term.  Students will additionally learn ways in which to overcome any previous academic challenges.



Don't Panic! Be Proactive

Many of us say we "work best under pressure." But doing work at the last minute affects its completeness and quality as well as your stress level. Attend this workshop to start being proactive instead.  

Learn strategies to help you start projects early, allot sufficient time to study for exams, and give yourself time for critical and creative thinking.



Get the Most From Your Lectures

Lectures are a relatively low effort way of keeping up with classes.  Yet many students question their usefulness and even stop attending.  Attend this workshop to learn how to maximize the effectiveness of your lecture attendance.

Educational Goals:  Students will learn strategies that they can engage in before, during, and after they attend lectures that wil help them maximize the efficacy of their lecture attendance.  Strategies include previewing lecture material; getting a good night's sleep; selecting the best lecture seat; focusing during lecture; taking notes by hand; identifying important points; and various methods for reviewing after lecture.

Part 1: Types of Classes and Attendance (5:25) - Lectures are a relatively low effort way of keeping up with classes. Yet many students question their usefulness and even stop attending. Part 1 focuses on why lecture attendance is more important than some students might think.

Part 2: Before the Lecture (6:19) - Focuses on what you can do in advance to help you grasp as much as you can during the lecture.

Part 3: During the Lecture (8:57) - Focuses on strategies to help you fully engage with, and record, the material.

Part 4: After the Lecture (11:11) Focuses on making sure that you retain and can apply the material learned in lecture. 


Get the Most From Your Textbooks

Discover how to learn more effectively from textbooks and develop useful techniques for retaining course information.



Giving Effective Presentations

Are you giving a presentation this term?  Strong presentations are made up of 3 components - content, visuals and delivery.  Learn strategies to make your content stand out, your visuals resonate, and your delivery impress.

Part 1: 

Part 2: 


How to Stay Focused on School in the Summer

So many things compete for your attention in the summer - work, friends, weekend trips, and ... THE SUMMER! Learn some strategies to cut through the distractions and give your summer courses the attention they need.

Educational Goals: Students gain self-awareness around how much time is available to them for schoolwork, and how great a priority they are willing to make school, in the summer term.  Students learn strategies to set goals and create accountability around schoolwork; plan ahead; say no to others; concentrate fully when doing schoolwork; and limit their tendency to procrastinate.



How to Succeed in Quantitative Courses

Did you find out last term that university-level quantitative courses are harder than you thought?  Or is it your first time taking one?  Either way, attend this workshop, developed by a college math instructor, to learn how to gain the deep understanding needed to solve even the trickiest exam problem.

Educational Goals: Students will learn to adopt a productive approach to their problem solving courses.  This incudes practising daily problem-solving at a full range of difficulty; becoming comfortable with struggling through hard problems; knowing when and where to seek help; engaging in interleaved practice; developing concept summaries; and anticipating ways in which instructors develop exam problems that look difficult.


Improve Your Concentration & Reading Effectiveness

Do you drift off while reading and don’t retain much?  Or do you get distracted easily in lectures?  You are spending valuable time on these activities, so you might as well increase your effectiveness by adopting strategies described in this workshop.

Educational Goals:  Students learn strategies for managing their reading load and for increased reading comprehension and retention.  Together, they generate strategies for improved concentration while studying.



Improve Your Reading Effectiveness

Do​ you feel that you are not getting enough benefit from the time you invest in your readings?  This workshop will cover how to effectively learn from various types of readings (textbook, journal article, online source) with a variety of academic purposes in mind (test prep, paper writing, discussion). 

Educational Goals: Students learn strategies for managing their reading load.  They also  learn how to think critically about the purpose of each reading and how to use the purpose to inform which effective reading strategies to adopt.  Critical reading is discussed, among other strategies.


Learning from your University Experience

Have you been in post-secondary for a while?  Would you like to consolidate what you have learned about yourself as a student, in order to maximize its impact on your future success?  Let's explore this together, along with top success strategies shared by an SLC Learning Specialist.

Educational Goals:  Students engage their metacognitive self-awareness around their own effective and ineffective past practices as a student.  They learn through self-reflection, though the experiences of other participants, and through the guidance of an SLC staff member. Students make a plan involving behaviours they will engage, moving forward in their university careers.



Managing Procrastination

Do you put off doing schoolwork because it stresses you out, only to find that putting it off has made it even more stressful?  Or do you just have trouble tearing yourself away from activities you enjoy more than schoolwork?  Either way, come learn some strategies to help you get down to work.

Educational Goals: Participants will learn various options for managing their tendency to procrastinate.  This includes strategies for getting started on a task they are avoiding, strategies for breaking down tasks into manageable parts, strategies for managing their negative thoughts around tasks, strategies for dealing with distractions, and the importance of self-forgiveness.


Public Speaking for Your Courses and Beyond

Do you want to improve your speaking skills for class discussions or an upcoming presentation?  If you work on your public speaking skills now, your career will benefit later in job interviews, team meetings, sales pitches, delivery of training, and numerous other contexts.  Join us for some tips and a safe space to practice.

Watch a related video: TED-inspired presentation style.


Reading for Writing, Presentation, or Discussion 

To prepare for a paper, presentation or class discussion, you need to strike a good balance between using your sources with academic integrity, and expressing your own perspective based on those sources. Reading strategies, therefore, need to be very different that when you are reading to prepare for a test.  Come to this workshop to learn how to read effectively with this purpose in mind.


Study Strategies that Work!

Do you want optimize the effectiveness of the time you devote to studying?  Come learn which study strategies are most strongly supported by research, and how to maximize your focus while studying. 

Educational Goals: Students are invited to critically differentiate between study strategies that are shown by research to be effective and those that are less effective.  They are, in particular, encouraged to adopt "the study cycle" (including periodically assessing one's own learning and learning strategies); distributed practice; practice testing; deep processing; group study; and self-regulatory strategies for increased focus.


Successful and Ethical Exam Writing 

What kind of exams do you have this term? Open book or closed book? This 6-part recorded workshop series provides evidence-based exam preparation strategies that will help you succeed on any test this term decides to throw at you.

Educational Goals: Students will critically differentiate between effective (distributed practice and practice testing) and less effective study strategies.  They will be encouraged to gain self-awareness around habitual errors in their exam preparation and writing processes, and to address those errors.  They will learn strategies for managing time in exams and for answering the most common formats of exam questions.


Successful Exam Writing

Focusing on the period immediately before and during exams, this workshop will touch on preparation and then discuss time management during exams, as well as common types of questions:  multiple choice, problem solving, essay and short answer.

Educational Goals:  Students will learn the most effective exam preparation strategies and what to do in the period immediately before an exam.  They will learn strategies for managing time in exams and for answering the most common formats of exam questions.



Time Management for Busy Students

Are you juggling work, school and other responsibilities?  Attend this workshop to build skills that will help you live by your priorities; it will be a good investment of your precious time.

Educational Goals: Students will gain self-awareness around the activities that make up their lives and their sense of balance between these activities.  They will learn how to prioritize between their activities, as well as learning strategies to help them live by their priorities.  These strategies include planning ahead, learning to say no, and learning to focus.


Top 5 Academic Success Strategies 

Do you want to learn how to succeed in your courses, but only have 50 minutes to spend in a workshop? Covering the basics of effective time management, note-taking in lectures, reading, and studying, this  is the workshop that has it all!

Educational Goals:  Students learn how to use several time management tools and strategies, as well as how to implement active learning through hand-writing lecture notes; testing understanding while reading; and employing practice testing.



Working Effectively in Groups

Do you dread group projects?  Learn how to create a positive team experience by planning ahead, leveraging the strengths of each group member, setting ground rules, and learning how to deal productively with conflict.  (This workshop can be adapted for students who are working in pairs, or customized as an experiential activity for a class already engaging in a group project.)



Working Effectively in Online Groups 

Do you dread group projects? Learn how to create a positive team experience remotely by planning ahead, leveraging the strengths of each group member, setting ground rules, and learning how to deal productively with conflict.