A trio of SFU professors share advice to help students make the most of remote learning.


How students can make the most of remote learning

October 02, 2020

As we enter a fall semester unlike any we’ve seen before, three SFU professors share advice to help students make the most of remote learning.

Sheri Fabian, Kevin Lam and Jennifer Marchbank, all past winners of SFU’s Excellence in Teaching Award, agree that one of the most important requirements for success is setting a schedule early on and maintaining it.  

Jennifer Marchbank

“Normally, we have a university-imposed schedule, but that’s no longer the case,” says Marchbank, a professor of gender, sexuality and women’s studies.

“Self-discipline and planning are so important. Schedule when each assignment is due, when you’re going to do the readings. Schedule in self-care. If you’re working, schedule that in too.”

Fabian, a professor of criminology, emphasizes the need to be realistic when it comes to scheduling.

Sheri Fabian

“Always double the time you think you need. Break your assignments into steps.”

She also suggests using the Student Learning Commons resources.

“They have amazing tips for students, whether on time management or how to write an exam. They also offer an assignment calendar where you can plug in all of your assignments and it will plan your schedule for you.”

Lam, Marchbank and Fabian recommend reaching out to professors and teaching assistants to introduce yourself, ask questions or ask for help forming a study or breakout group.  

Kevin Lam

“Don’t be afraid to contact us and get in touch,” says Lam, a professor of biological sciences. “Tell us you’d like to form a study group. We want students to grow during the semester.”

Marchbank also recommends students get familiar with other non-academic resources available to them, such as volunteering, student unions, and clubs, as a way to form connections and maintain a work-life balance.  

The professors all acknowledge the importance of mental wellbeing, urging students to use the services available to them, such as My SSP and SFU Health and Counselling.

“I personally want my students to know that I care about them,” says Marchbank. “I recognize that things might get tough and I hope they’ll feel comfortable reaching out and saying they need additional help.”

“We have new opportunities to build communities,” says Fabian. “We just need to find ways to do them.”

It’s advice we should all carry with us for the foreseeable future.

For more resources, please visit My SSP, SFU Health and Counselling, the Student Learning Commons and the SFSS.