Chris is an undergraduate Psychology student. She lives in a shared house in Sheffield, and often finds it difficult to concentrate at home due to “disturbances from housemates!” or the distraction of the tv. Working at home presents other difficulties too, such as a small desk (“my desk is small and I need more space to spread my work out”) which she finds “annoying”.
Chris talks positively about taking breaks from her usual routine and study, and about how different places and activities help her. For example, she’ll
take advantage of (occasional!) nice weather to read in the botanical gardens near campus (“really good working environment…just the odd dog walker and worker around…opportunity to go inside or outside and sit with a coffee in the café”) whereas if she’s inside on a nice day she finds it difficult to concentrate (“it’s really putting me off work with the fact that the weather is so nice!”). Other ways of creating distance from study involve going for a drive when she feels that work is becoming unproductive or going for a walk “to think of ideas for work!”. These sorts of re-energising breaks/distractions are very different from the distractions or temptations of the internet – sometimes “just working with pen and paper” can be beneficial as it “keeps me from online shopping and facebook etc”. For writing essays, however, access to a computer is essential and she finds it frustrating when she can’t find a computer or power point in the Learning Centre; she does own a laptop which she regularly brings to campus but suggests that an enhancement would include “putting power points on all the desking in the silent study area [in the Learning Centre] so that everyone is able to use their laptops not just the people sat against the walls of the room”. Chris also suggests that bluetooth printing would be a good addition for laptop users.
She does use the Learning Centre regularly for work, mainly the silent study area – though she finds it frustrating when her expectations of silent study aren’t met (“I’m getting really frustrated in the so called silent study area in the learner as it is really busy and noisy!”) though is pleased when she finds it “really quiet and peaceful!”. She finds the group study areas “too hectic with lots of people…people walking up and down talking to friends just hinders me doing my work”, and mentions how hot the Learning Centre gets when it’s busy.