This article explains what the Academic Skills unit (ASK) is and how it can help you.

The Academic Skills Unit (ASK) can help you understand and develop your thinking, writing and organisational skills.

The team are friendly, non-judgemental and highly-experienced and are able to offer confidential, personalised tutorials to students on essential academic skills needed to be successful at higher education level (thinking, writing, reading and learning). The teaching approach is challenging as their aim is to help you develop as an independent learner.

Types of academic support ASK offers

The academic support the team offers can be divided into several areas:

  • One-to-one tutorials
  • Online resources: these can support your work in many areas
  • Skills sessions/ workshops: These sessions help students focus on understanding, developing and building the generic skills needed to succeed at University.
  • Lectures: These are given at the invitation of your subject lecturers where ASK expertise can add value to the learning on your course.

Who can use ASK

The service may be recommended to students by tutors through their feedback in assessments, however sessions are available to all, regardless of skill level, course or level of study (undergraduate, postgraduate and research).

One-to-one tutorials are available to all campus-based students and distance learners at the University of Portsmouth.

Distance learning will be supported by telephone, email or social media platforms such as Google chat and Skype – dependent on what works best for the student after initial contact with the ASK tutor.

If you are a mature student returning to higher education, you may want to discuss the changes in learning and teaching that have taken place since you last studied, and what types of learning strategies and approaches are suitable and appropriate for you as a learner in this new context.

How does ASK link with the faculty-based learning support and development tutors

ASK is very much affiliated with faculty-based learning support and development tutors. As it is a central service, it sees students from all parts of the University.

Students may be encouraged to approach ASK following contact with their support tutor or equally ASK may recommend a student works with their faculty-based learning support or development tutor.

For further information on faculty-based learning support and development tutors please see this article.

Student experiences of ASK

“ASK has been a great help; I have seen a significant improvement in my grades. It has helped me to improve my style of writing and to overcome mistakes being made on a regular basis.”

“Just having someone who hadn't already heard my dissertation ideas to whom I could spout all the stuff about it was really useful, as it allowed me to get a load of the info that'd been stuck in my head out, and onto a mind-map. They're very easy people to talk to, which is great.”

“I had no idea that the work I need to do is totally different to what I was expecting. There were expectations on me and I had no idea what to do. I saw an ASK tutor and after just three sessions I had improved significantly.”

ASK cannot offer any guarantee that their help will improve grades, as there are many factors that need to be taken into account, including the effort you are prepared to apply to your studies in your own time.

However, by refining and learning new skills to be used in your work, many students find that the academic guidance provided by ASK contributes to enhanced success.

Contact the Academic Skills Unit


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