Preparing for Finals: Insights for Students & Instructors

With summer just around the corner, finals are quickly approaching. Whether your preparing to face off with a big exam, research paper, or group presentation, Hoonuit by Atomic Learning is here to help with great insights for students and faculty alike.

Prepping for THE test

Writing THAT paper

Giving THAT project/presentation

And, for those with a full course load, be sure to check this handy course on Successful Time Management.

Try not to stress too much...You've got this!

(Don't have access? Request a 7-day free trial at

Student Success: Tools for Guiding Students on the FAFSA

Spring is here! And, while graduation is around the corner for some students, others need to prep for their return next fall by getting necessary paperwork together to apply for Financial Aid.

If students don't seem to be utilizing the Financial Aid office and support resources your campus offers, it may be a matter of awareness—especially for incoming freshmen.

Recently, we came across the brief video series below featuring comedian Adam Conover of truTV's Adam Ruins Everything and thought it could be a valuable engagement tool for partner colleges looking to encourage students to take advantage of financial assistance.

Enjoy these fun, informal (but fact-based) videos that debunk several Financial Aid myths:

The Real Truth About Financial Aid

Looking for ways to help students with the FAFSA?
The Completing the FAFSA course provides a step-by-step guide to the often intimidating form.

And, once the application is in, it might not be a bad idea to recommend Personal Finance Basics to help them make sound financial decisions—now and in the future.

For additional resources on setting students up for success in college and beyond, including Choosing a Major, Transitioning from High School to College, and many more, be sure to check out Hoonuit by Atomic Learning's college success courses.

11 Strategies to Support Students with Disabilities

This article is based on the upcoming Helping Students with Disabilities Succeed in College course soon to be released on Atomic Learning by Dr. Theresa Kiley, a former Associate Professor at Argosy University and Western Illinois University, published author, and education conference keynote speaker.  (More about Dr. Kiley.)

Working with students with disabilities can be rewarding, yet challenging. In many situations, a student’s disability is not easily observed. To add to the difficulty, there are a variety of disabilities that college professors can often encounter. Regardless, preparing to teach students with disabilities and diverse characteristics is essential for faculty as instructors must provide academic and career opportunities that are equivalent to those provided for their nondisabled peers.

To help, here are eleven strategies to help faculty members support students with disabilities:


As the number of individuals being diagnosed with ADD/ADHD continues to rise, the need for instructors who can plan a course that is more accessible for all students is also increasing. We invite you to consider these suggestions developed by Universal Design:

  1. Provide important information in both oral and written formats.
  2. Provide printed materials early in the course to allow students time to read the texts and reference any available software.
  3. Avoid last-minute assignment or additional assignments after distributing the course syllabus.

Memory Loss

Memory problems associated with learning disabilities can interfere with storage of new information, as well as the ability to retrieve that information at a later time. In order to assist students with memory issues, here are a few suggested strategies:

  1. Allow students to access memory devices, such as lists of background information (e.g., formulas or dates) to be used in problem solving or essay writing.
  2. Have students create realistic timelines when studying for tests. Test dates should be listed on a large wall calendar, and specific dates and times reserved for studying should be clearly visible. 

8 Ideas for Unlocking Students' Potential

This blog post is based off of the Unlocking Potential: The Impact of Mindset on Success course that was created for Atomic Learning by Dr. Matthew Arau. Dr. Arau is an Assistant Professor of Music at Lawrence University. (More about Dr. Arau

In a recent article titled “Helping Students Reach the Mountaintop” (also available in the course mention above), Dr. Arau explains shares ideas on how students can reach their full potential using a specific focus on how both students and adults can be grouped into two categories: Fixed Mindset and Growth Mindset.

“Someone with a fixed mindset believes that intelligence, talent, and ability are fixed or static. If you are talented, things come easily to you; if you have to put effort into an endeavor, you must not be talented.

Those with a growth mindset believe that intelligence, talent, and ability can be developed through process, strategies, time, and effort. Growth-mindset students embrace challenges and are excited by the process of learning, whereas fixed-mindset students shy away from challenge because "failure" could expose them as not being smart or talented.”

Knowing that, here are eight ideas for encouraging a growth mindset in your course and unlocking students’ full potential:

  1. Sharing Stories
    To help teach the idea of a growth mindset to your students, share stories of people shattering goals set by limitations. For example, in the early ‘50s there was a limitation, or fixed mindset, on how fast humans could run the mile. Roger Bannister was determined to break the 4-minute mile goal, and he did so in May of 1954. He broke the barrier of what was considered an unattainable goal because he used a growth mindset. His achievement inspired others to do the same, and just 46 days later an Australian runner beat Bannisters time, and now it is quite common for runners to finish the mile in under 4 minutes. 
  2. Learning How We Learn
    Our brain has the ability to retrain and rewire itself. When we learn something new, we are carving a new pathway that connects neurons in our brain. The more we do that task or challenge, the stronger that connection gets.  Think of the brain as a muscle—the more exercise it gets, the stronger it becomes. With this knowledge, students can physically understand how and why growth mindset is important.
  3. Errors are Growth Opportunities
    To ensure that your course is promoting a growth mindset, students need to know that trust has been established, that they can feel safe taking risks and discovering new things, and that errors are viewed as an opportunity to learn.

7 Learning Styles: Which One Are You?

Whether they recognize it or not, most people have a preferred way of learning. While some learn best by listening (think of all those lecture classes), others may have to see a concept in action to learn the material (this is where lab work comes in), and the list goes on.

The trick is figuring out your individual learning style and then utilizing your strengths while being aware of your weaker areas.  To help, we’ve worked with Dan Kuemmel, a specialist in Learning Technology, Data Visualization, and Pedagogy, on an in-depth course on Learning Styles. As a preview, we’ve provided a quick peek at each of the seven types of learners below:

  1. Visual Learners
    These learners turn words into pictures to retain information, and tend to excel with writing assignments and textbook readings. However, they can struggle with information that is only audio-based, such as a lectures or audio-recordings.
  2. Logical Learners
    Logical learners thrive on processes, statistics, and making connections between ideas. Puzzles, riddles, and word games engage them, as well as charts and diagrams.
  3. Aural/Auditory Learners
    These learners have great recall when hearing information be it a lecture, podcast, spoken directions, or even music.
  4. Verbal Learners
    Verbal learners are most easily identified as those that need to ‘talk through’ a problem, either through verbal or written communication. They excel at writing essays and class discussions or debates, but can struggle with math and science concepts.

4 Tips to Encourage Your Students to be Critical Thinkers

This blog post is based off of an online course called “Critical Thinking” that was created for Atomic Learning by Valeria Becker. She is a Learning Specialist/Tutor Coordinator at the University of North Dakota. Learn more about her. 

Critical thinking is a valuable skill for college, career, and beyond. Whether you are a faculty member or student, being able to showcase your abilities as a critical thinker is important.

If you are wondering, "What exactly does 'critical thinking' mean?" Don’t worry. Commonly referred to as 'problem-solving', critical thinking involves not being content with the first solution to a problem, but instead thinking more deeply to determine if it is the best solution to the problem. Knowing, understanding, analyzing, synthesizing, applying, and evaluating an idea or problem are all activities that occur during critical thinking.

To encourage these activities and get your students thinking critically, here are four characteristics of a critical thinking to consider:

  1. See Problems as Challenges
    If you think about it, everything around us started out as a problem. One person (or a group) decided to look at something considered status quo as a challenge, and then invented or discovered something new to change things. Inventions such as phones, light fixtures, computers, and machines of all kinds were created to solve a problem most people didn't realize they had. Inventors of the past did this all the time with physical issues. Even non-physical problems, like the desire to connect with others and needing to be more active, can be viewed as a challenge and solved. Social media has taken off like crazy to help people connect with others, and technologies like Fitbits are being created to keep people motivated and healthy.
  2. Use Evidence to Make Judgements
    When listening to other people’s ideas, keeping an open mind and open ear will help you gain a wealth of knowledge to make future decisions. With that in mind, never stop asking questions. Even if you don't ask them outloud, be sure to write them down so you can find the answers to your questions later. Learning starts with questions.
  3. Observing, Thinking, and Asking Questions
    The next time you are approached to sign a petition or join a cause of some sort, take a minute before jumping into action. Ask yourself (or them) questions before signing, joining, or doing anything. For example: What if someone came up to you and asked you to join them in banning Dihydrogen Monoxide (DHMO)? It sounds like a terrible chemical, right? Based on an assumptiong, you may agree with them at first glance. However, when you stop, observe, and think about the name DHMO for a minute, and ask the right questions, you'd likely have a different reation. Dihydrogen monoxide is also known as H2O... meaning water.
  4. Make Educated Decisions
    Asking the right questions can help you to making educated decisions. These are the decisions that we make that are based on facts, but even facts need to viewed with a skeptical eye. Always try to get a good understanding of the facts at hand, at look at various perspectives of the issue at hand. Educated decisions come about from having knowledge in a variety of areas and making use of available resources.

1 Staggering Statistic: 33% of College Freshmen Drop Out

While working with colleges and universities across the country on a daily basis, we often hear many of the same challenges over and over—specifically concerns centered around student success and retention. 

Even though the populations, initiatives, and programs can vary drastically, on a national level there are some staggering statistics. In fact, a U.S. News article stated that “As many as 1 in 3 first-year students won't make it back for sophomore year.”

This is a statistic that colleges simply can’t ignore, and leaves many wondering what causes so many students to cut their college experience short. Colleges need to take a hard look at what can be done to turn the statistic around, and to do that, it’s necessary to look at WHY students are dropping out. While there can be a variety of factors involved, here’s a few that seem to come up regularly:

Emotional Readiness
A recent article from The Chronicle of Higher Education provides several insights on the challenges that many students face during their freshman year of college. Although each student’s experience can be very different, there are emotional readiness factors that seem to overlap.

"Several factors can contribute to "emotional readiness," including students’ ability to adapt to new environments, handle negative emotions in constructive ways, and forge healthy relationships. The survey found that the more prepared a student is for the emotional challenges of college — and for the anxieties that might come with it, such as covering expenses, making friends, and dealing with increased independence — the better and more successful that student’s college experience is."

According to the article, these factors can be the difference between a student feeling confident and excelling in their classes or a student falling behind and dropping out entirely.

Related resources:
Transitioning from High School to College
How Do I Keep Myself Socially and Emotionally Healthy?

“My 16-Year-Old is in College!?!” – Insights on the High School to College Transition

Guest blog post by Lisa Barnett (@atomic_lisa), parent and CEO of Atomic Learning and Versifit Technologies.

I am the parent of a new college student.  That in and of itself is a big deal for a number of reasons.  But in this case, said college student is also only 16.  Yes, she's a sharp kid, but not some prodigy.  

Our state has an amazing post-secondary enrollment option that allows high school juniors and seniors to attend college full-time and complete dual degrees, funded through the state.  So essentially, when she graduates from high school, she should also have her AA degree.

My daughter has not been a huge fan of the high school experience—she found the drama to be exhausting and she was regularly disengaged in her academics.  While she was a high performing student, she found classes focused on rote memorization to be a game that she knew how to play, but didn't feel she was actually getting any type of academic enrichment from. Partially through her sophomore year, she decided to pursue the PSEO option with our family’s support.  

Fast forward to four weeks ago; she started her first day as a junior is high school and freshman in college.

Why College Students Need Atomic Learning

Here is a quick video on how students can benefit from Atomic Learning. With the new LearnIt. DoIt. ShareIt. ProveIt. format of our content, students are able to not only learn from best practices, but apply that learning to their lives. They can see how others would approach it, and even document their learning to see how much they've retained. Check it out!

If you campus is not already using the Atomic Learning solution, you need to be. Request more information to learn more.

Back-to-Campus: Tips College Students NEED to Know

Tip #1: Balancing it All

Not only are you trying to balance classes, study time, group work, and tests, but there is the social aspect of college life to fit in as well. On- and off-campus activities, including everything from hanging out with friends to intermural sports, make up a big part of the college experience. While managing your time can be tricky, it doesn’t need to be overwhelming. Try using an agenda or planner. There are plenty of apps out there, or you can even utilize the calendar on your smart phone. (There is also nothing wrong with pen and paper planner.) Utilizing such tools can help you manage your time and keep it all straight.

Additional Resources:


Tip #2: Where and How Long to Study

You know you best. Whether you study better in your dorm room with your headphones and your favorite music or in a quite space in the library, find something that works for you. Once you find your sweet spot, break up your studying into time blocks. Try studying for 30-50 minutes and then allowing yourself a quick break in between those studying times. This approach can help you stay energized and focused.

Additional resources: