monks at the waterfall Becoming a Master Learner

This site was developed by the students in the Communities of Learning (COL) program at Thomas Nelson Community College in Hampton, Virginia, Fall 2006.

The project is the culmination of a semester-long study and exploration of several themes:

  • What are the characteristics of successful people?
  • What are the behaviors and choices of successful students?
  • What academic skills and resources provide the means of achieving success?

In the Learning Mastery/Study Skills class we used Skip Downing's book On Course: Creating Success in College and Life and adopted much of Downing's philosophy of success to our goals of becoming master learners and creating our own futures.

The COL students wrote articles about successful people and about how to succeed in one's studies, and each student developed his or her own on-line success site with links to excellent resources that will put anyone who visits on course to becoming a master learner and to managing life's complexities while in college and beyond.

Each participant created a webfolio which includes the following: an article about a success-related topic, an annotated webliography of personal success resources, a supplement for an oral presentation in which they taught their class colleagues an important success skill of some sort, and an inspiration page with images of their success-filled futures. Click on the project titles below to see the articles, resource sites, and oral presentation supplements the COL students posted to their webfolios, and click on each contributor's name to go to his or her website.

"Incredible things happen when we are open to possibilities." (Dewitt Jones, Celebrate What's Right With the World")

successful people


Develop self esteem

"Make Yourself Feel Great" by Brittany Campbell
Nathanial Brandon once stated, “Self-esteem is the reputation we have with ourselves.” My friend Sara walks around with her head held high instead of lowered towards the ground. She is sort of an inspiration to girls everywhere. She accomplished what most girls try to do everyday.

"Obtaining True Wealth"

LeShania Blue

by LeShania Blue
My grandmother has always said true wealth comes from charity, the ability to help others.  She would add that the charity and humility has to come from within and one must be pleased and content with themselves in order to be a blessing to others. 

Maintain positive attitudes

The Encounter That Helps Me Persevere by Kathryn Ellison
If it was not for Jerry and being able to witness his life struggles, I know I would not be who I would be today. I am now a college student who loves life. There are many stress factors associated with being a college student. In the beginning I thought of calling college life quits, but then I questioned myself, "Would Jerry quit because it was a struggle?" The answer was no, he loves life, and now thanks to Jerry, so do I.

"She Makes Everything Just Right" by Krystle Rodgers
This wonderful woman I'm referring to just happens to be my mother.  She always knows exactly what to say and how to say it.  It doesn't matter what the situation is she can always make everything just right.

"By His Strength Alone" by Earnest Reynolds
Well, one day everything that I was going through began to weigh heavy on me. I went to work and, as I made my rounds, I started feeling a sense of hopelessness and depression. I tried not to show my feelings, and masked them with smiles, greeting the employees that worked there, but this one little woman saw right through me and knew that my heart was troubled.

Believe in themselves

"Risky Situations" by Kellee Green
Seeing my squad leader's face being blown halfway off really affected me in a way that I cannot describe in words.  The whole incident really made me think that I have to be here on this earth for a reason.  I was very blessed to have survived on that day. 

"Upgrade" by Carla Hargrave-Perry
I am looking forward to building a life here, in Virginia with my husband and children.  Moreover, this move has empowered me more than I ever could have imagined and given me interdependent feelings I have been searching for.  I am in college now and doing fine by my standards.

Seek the means to succeed

"Time Management Techniques " by DeShaun Jones
A PowerPoint used in an oral presentation to the Study Skills class.

"Getting Your Life Organized " by Shawntya Trafton
A PowerPoint supplementing an in-class oral presentation.

"Ways To Reduce Stress" by Tremishia Watson
Stress is the "wear and tear"  our bodies experience as we adjust to our continually changing environment. It has a physical and emotional effect on us and can create negative feelings. As a negative influence, it can result in feelings of distrust, rejection, anger, and depression, which can lead to serious health problems such as headaches, upset stomach, rashes, insomnia, ulcers, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. Many life events can trigger stress such as work, college, family, new relationship, and many more. Stress can hinder you depending on how you react to it. Your goal is not to eliminate stress but learn how to manage it and how to use it to help you.

palm treo

"The Palm Treo" by Sarah-Kate DuRant
There are always going to be ways to organize your life. The method you choose should always be based on what helps you the most. With all around quality technology, the Palm Treo combines smart design and the capabilities needed to organize any life for success.

successful students


Accept personal responsibility

"Suggestions for College Success" by Sean Jackson
In high school, if your grades slip your parents ground you, you blame the teacher, you wait until the last minute to apply yourself, grades come up, and you pass the course. That is not how it works on college territory. In college, a person has to have self discipline.

"Helpful Habits" by Karen Ablonsky
Starting school with good habits is extremely helpful not only for classes, but you can bring the habits you start into your personal life and into your future. 

"Old Habits Die Hard" by Tremishia Watson
I am a full-time student and a full-time parent with a part-time job.  After a couple of months went by and learning from some really good professors, I learned a lot about managing my time and setting new habits.

"School Relates With Responsibilities" by Sheronda Fox
I always thought life had to be hard; now I see that my life is only as hard as I choose it to be. I can only change me, and being a college student creates more hard work and choices whether or not to overcome procrastination.

"Useful Advice to My Son" by La'Daleia Camm
Take full advantage of your education. Your education is very important because there are always ways to explore what you have learned on a daily basis. Utilize what you learn because that alone will cause other doors of opportunities to open up for you. Keep in mind that you can never learn too much. You will never stop learning, and life will always contain constant lessons.

Adapt their learning skills

"Create 'A' Change" by Sally Jo Woods
Although it is quite difficult, I have learned how to adapt to a traditional teaching style. I have learned that people such as myself do fit in the normal, traditional college system, but sometimes there's a need to make some behavioral as well as thought changes. In order to succeed, I must create my own study methods.

"Important Suggestions for College Freshmen" by James Collins
Maintaining a positive attitude is important to becoming a better and successful student.  Understanding my learning styles and adapting them to the teaching styles of my professors helped me to change my attitude about learning and improve my results.  Positive thinking leads to positive  actions which brings forth great results in your academic lives.

"Conjunctions" by Sean Jackson
A web page on using conjunctions in a variety of sentence constructions.

study hard

Learn to study effectively

"SQ3R Note Taking" by Ebony Norman and Brittany Campbell
This PowerPoint presentation was used to supplement an oral presentation on this excellent note-taking strategy in English 109 class.

"SQ4R Note Taking" by Krystle Rodgers and Karen Ablonsky
Another take on good note taking, Krystle and Karen taught their English 109 class how to take notes from texts and supplemented their talk with this PowerPoint.

"Test Taking Strategies"
Sarah-Kate Durant's PowerPoint to used when she taught her Study Skills colleagues how to develop good test taking skills and prepare for tests.

"Successful Test Taking" by Katie Ward and Jessica Wheatley
This PowerPoint, which supplemented an oral presentation, provides a lot of useful information about what to do before and after taking a test, as well as successful techniques to use during the test to help achieve good results.

Employ interdependency

"The Communities of Learning Program"
Sarah-Kate DuRant and Karen Ablonsky gave a talk in another class about their successful experience in one of the Fall '06 Communities of Learning using this PowerPoint.

drumming workshop

The Drumming Workshop

On September 11, 2006 the Communities of Learning met in the Mary Christian Auditorium at TNCC for a drumming workshop to understand the concept of interdependency, working together to achieve common goals as well as individual success.

oil derricks


Annotated Webliographies

All of the students in English 109 Study Skills created web-based indexes of online resources to help themselves succeed in college and in life. Just click on the researchers' names to access their personal success resources, and you will find a several hundred links to, and descriptions of, web sites that will help you, also, to be successful in all of your academic endeavors as well as many of your life management goals, including the following topics:

  • Effective note-taking from lectures and texts
  • Health and biology class homework
  • Math skills and math homework help
  • Memorizing for tests and other purposes
  • Studying techniques
  • Vocabulary building
  • Writing and editing academic papers
  • Money management
  • Stress management
  • Time management

wildcat mining

Digging deep into the Internet to turn up hidden treasures and gems, and finding a goldmine of personal success resources!

Karen Ablonsky
Study skills, oral presentations, math, finances, family, nursing

LeShania Blue
Math, home life, convenience

Brittany Campbell
Math, writing/editing, health, studying

Sharon Dove
Writing, communication skills, problem solving, character education

Sarah-Kate DuRant
Test-taking, algebra, college transfer, essay writing, time management, job interviewing

Kathryn Ellison
Writing, math, learning styles, note-taking

Sheronda Fox
Lots of study skills links and some "life skills" links

Jennifer Hall
Writing, editing, punctuation, grammar sites

Carla Hargrave-Perry
Financial aid, career resources, self-motivation

Sean Jackson
Memorizing/study skills, writing/editing, reading

DeShaun Jones
Writing, time management, diverse learning resources

Earnest Reynolds
Punctuation, writing, math, study skills, critical thinking, communication skills, learning styles

Jenise Spinner
Spelling, writing, proofreading, math reading links

Katie Ward
Money management, study techniques, critical thinking, speed reading

Tremishia Watson
Study help sites, math, writing, stress management

Jessica Wheatley
Writing, reading, life management, study skills, teaching styles

Nicole Winzler
Math, nature, outdoors sites

Sally Jo Woods
Memorization, health, African-American history, math, writing

Comments about the Communities of Learning experiences

"I have enjoyed the experience of the learning community. I enjoy seeing some of the same peolpe in my classes, and I have formed a support system with a couple of the peopl in the learning community."
Karen Ablonsky

"Some of my experiences are just being a better person, letting me know what it is I have come to school for and where I need to go. One of the advantages is sharing my thoughts with others and giving them the help that I have to offer."
Chantyse Roseboro

"[Being in the Communities of Learning] brings me out more in my communication with other students I am around. I learned how to study more and how long to sutdy, how to take notes in class."
Shawntya Trafton

"I am able to get the help of a tutor for my algebra class. The notes that I have learned to take in algebra class are helping me because I can look back if I need to look something up."
Nicole Winsler