How do you define Learning and what enables you to make meaning of new knowledge?

Haley Rietman, Learning Center Program Assistant

Haley grew up in San Diego, CA. She also attended college in Southern California at Chapman University where she received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology. During her time at Chapman, she worked in their events department and as a tutor, which allowed her to realize the passion she has for working in higher education.  Haley hopes that through her work in the Learning Center, she will be able to encourage students to achieve their academic goals which will in turn benefit their overall success.  Haley’s passions include traveling, exercising and reading and when she has spare time she likes to explore San Francisco.

As shown through the lens of previous writers on this topic, there are many ways one can define and interpret learning. In its simplest form, learning is the acquisition of new knowledge. Knowledge and learning go hand in hand. What is one without the other? Do we learn new knowledge, or does our knowledge allow us to learn? I believe it’s both.


The main concept that allows me to make meaning of new knowledge is keeping the mindset that there is always something more to learn. We should never allow ourselves to believe that we have learned everything there is to know. By staying in the mindset that I can always learn something new, I am constantly seeking out new information, or discovering how to use the knowledge I already have in a different way – in other words, I am learning. If one believes that they already know everything there is to know, they have closed off their minds to learning something new. Yes, many times learning is unconscious, however, if we strive to be conscious of our learning and seek out learning opportunities, we will be more successful in gaining new knowledge.


I encourage everyone to strive to be constantly learning. Deeper learning is not passive- take the initiative to learn by seeking out wisdom from others, dive into resources such as books, training courses, podcasts, the internet, etc. Set goals for oneself and keep track of the new knowledge you are learning- it might come as a surprise to you as to how much new knowledge you might gain when you are actually seeking it. Lastly, be sure to enjoy the process of learning. Too many times, the joy of learning is overtaken by the stress of preparing for a test or writing a paper but if we can appreciate the process of learning, it becomes a sort of classical conditioning where we are encouraged to keep learning.


Students at the University of San Francisco: I encourage you to utilize the services that the Learning, Writing, and Speaking Centers have to offer. These services are not only offered to students who may be struggling in their courses but also to students who want to learn more and increase their academic skills.  The Learning Center strives to assist students who desire higher academic achievement and want to make new meanings of their own knowledge.


How do you define Learning and what enables you to make meaning of new knowledge?

Rachel Brunson, Learning Center Assistant Director

Rachel graduated from USF’s School of Education with a Master of Arts in Organization & Leadership (emphasis in Higher Education & Student Affairs) in 2013, after receiving her Bachelors degree in English from Notre Dame de Namur University in 2011. She is originally from Angels Camp, CA, a small town in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Rachel is passionate about enriching student success and impacting student persistence through collaborative learning and peer leadership; she is grateful to work in the Learning & Writing Center, which cultivates individualized learning environments for USF students. Outside of work, Rachel enjoys reading, writing, knitting, hiking, playing the piano, watching basketball, and traveling with family and friends.

When I was in graduate school I took a course called “Sociocultural Foundations of
Organization and Policy,” which introduced me to hermeneutics, the theory and methodology of
interpretation. I wrote my final paper on Theodor “Ted” Seuss Geisel, who you may recognize if
I call him by his pen name, Dr. Seuss. At first glance the topic of this paper may seem trivial, but
studying his life and works with a Hermeneutic lens was as fascinating as it was insightful. All
fancy language aside, what I took away from this course is that learning is an ever-evolving
process and new knowledge is understood through our imaginations and our experiences.
Essentially, we do not learn new things in isolation from other things. As a mentor of mine
defines it, learning is “the manipulation of what you already know to make new
information meaningful.”
Sometimes talent surfaces in the most unexpected candidates. Sometimes those who are
believed in the least turn out to be the biggest surprise. Such is the case of “Dr. Seuss,” the boy
who lacked any ounce of ambition but who became one of the most well-known and imaginative
children’s story authors of all time. In high school Ted sharpened his skill of making things
awkward, misshapen, and bizarre, and his classmates voted him Class Artist and Class Wit.
During his junior year at Dartmouth College, Ted worked for the humor magazine and
discovered the “excitement of marrying words to pictures” (Fensch 2000:39). He also
determined that writing and editing a college newspaper or magazine seemed to be a better
education than attending his college classes. He approached graduation with no career in sight,
no job on the horizon, no plans, and with no real ambition to do anything. He was even voted
“least likely to succeed” (Fensch 2000:41). He then went to Oxford University in England, but
eventually dropped out and moved back to the US with no job, no prospects for a job, and
supposedly no talent for a job, either.
Dr. Seuss’s historical background plays a crucial role in understanding him—it was through his
artwork that he created a world with no rules, the sense of freedom he’d longed for since he was
a young child staring out of his bedroom window. Reading his texts through the prism of his
real-life experiences and attitudes reveals that true understanding is reached through one’s
imaginative abilities. Kearney (1998:149) says, “The symbolizing power of
imagination…transforms given meanings into new ones, [and] enables one to construe the
future as the ‘possible theatre of my liberty,’ as a horizon of hope.” The most obvious connection
with Dr. Seuss and Hermeneutics is the power of imagination.

Life can be seen as a great balancing act, whether that be due to different horizons fusing
together, a sense of identity loss or uncertainty, or other factors. The past and future are
negotiated in terms of the present, and this is all a by-product of imagination. Ironically enough,
one of Dr. Seuss’s most famous and widely gifted books, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” is based
on a cynical phrase that he picked up during a time when he was just beginning to explore his
imaginative abilities: right as he was leaving for college.
As you continue your journey, I invite you to reflect on these questions, as I try to do
Do you rely on past knowledge and/or experiences as you work to create new understanding?
Do you allow yourself space to learn from “mistakes” or situations that did not go as planned?
Do you imagine a successful future, or focus mainly on the tasks (or the stresses) of the
How can you sustain a “horizon of hope” and what reminders do you need in the ever-evolving
process of learning?
What resources can you use to enable you to make meaning of new knowledge?
If you are a student at the University of San Francisco, do not hesitate to visit The Learning
Center for resources or assistance! We aim to support students in redefining themselves as
learners, enhancing their current skills and talents, developing new skills and strategies, setting
concrete goals and make effective decisions, holding themselves accountable and practicing
self-regulation, challenging themselves to be their best. We sit down 1:1 with students for
Academic Skills Coaching appointments to help you get started and stay on track! Come see

Kearney, Richard. Poetics of Imagining: Modern to Post-Modern. Fordham University Press,
New York, 1998.
Fensch, Thomas. The Man Who Was Dr. Seuss. New Century Books, Texas, 2000.


How do you define Learning and what enables you to make meaning of new knowledge?

Tiffany Toor, Lead Speaking Center Coach


“Anything that you learn becomes your wealth, a wealth that cannot be taken away from you; whether you learn it in a building called school or in the school of life. To learn something new is a timeless pleasure and a valuable treasure. And not all things that you learn are taught to you, but many things that you learn you realize you have taught yourself.” –C. JoyBell C.


I use this quote to define learning as a system of personally growing and developing. Learning, much like growth and development, is a very personalized process and although we learn in various ways from various different people, we also learn from ourselves. Most importantly, through learning from ourselves, we learn about ourselves.


As a Speaking Center Coach, I find it very important to constantly learn from myself. Each and every coaching session provides me with the opportunity to think about what went well and what can be improved. In other words, I always reflect on which aspects of the session were valuable to the student, as well as what was not as effective. Through doing this, I learn about what I should continue doing in my coaching sessions and what I should try to change about my coaching style, which becomes a valuable tool for every subsequent appointment.


Additionally, this method of reflecting on what went well and what can be improved after every appointment is something I try to extend to each of the students I coach. I notice that one of the most common concerns of students is the anxiety they feel regarding public speaking. When it comes to tackling the apprehension of public speaking, one of the most useful techniques is to use self-reflection to learn more about yourself. By learning about your individual speaking style, the task of giving a public speech becomes far more comfortable since you already know what works well for you and what does not. This leads to an overall increase in confidence as a speaker.


To break down the concept of learning more about yourself as a means to reduce public speaking anxiety, try to keep in mind the following tip the next time you prepare for a speech: Practice actively!


To actively practice a speech means to stand up and say your speech out loud, preferably with someone watching you. At the end of running through the speech, ask yourself what content of the speech you feel you know, and what content of the speech you need to work on learning more. By mastering the content of your speech you instantly become less nervous to share your ideas in front of an audience, because the better you know your content, the easier it is to explain it to someone else.


Additionally, you can ask someone to watch you as you practice and point out any distracting mannerisms you may have had while presenting. You can then apply that knowledge in future speeches. For example, it was once pointed out to me that I would always play with my hair while presenting a speech. By learning what distracting mannerism I have, it allowed me to find ways to correct it. After learning this about myself, I make sure to always have my hair tied up any time I am giving a speech. Similarly, use active practicing to learn about yourself and then apply that knowledge to ensure you feel more confident going into your speech.


In conclusion, learning about yourself is one of the best ways to tackle public speaking anxiety. By knowing what works well for you and what does not, leads to feeling more confident at the time of your speech. Ultimately, the more confident you feel, the more confident you will present yourself and come across as.


How do you define Learning and what enables you to make meaning of new knowledge?

Jessica Arbitman, Peer-Led Team Learning Assistant Coordinator


Learning is the process by which an individual acquires knowledge. However, learning and knowledge can take on many forms.  Learning might look like reading a book and storing facts in your memory bank to utilize later, but it may also look like rolling dough for the first time, or playing a chord on the guitar for the first time—keep in mind that these are just a few examples! Therefore, knowledge can be defined as not only the gain of factual/textual information obtained from reading a text, but also mastery of a skill by means of practice. It hence follows that making meaning of new knowledge can take on many forms as well.

As a chemistry major, the process of learning often entailed a lot of problem-solving to ensure that I can solve numerical problems. To make meaning of the knowledge, I was to be able to apply the underlying concepts in a lab. Similarly, for a student studying rhetoric, he or she might first learn rhetorical devices and then make meaning of them by employing them in their rhetorical analyses. All in all, being able to apply what you’ve learned to something in real life is one way to make meaning of knowledge. However, there is no correct way to learn and no correct way to make meaning of knowledge. It’s something that is unique to every learner and it’s something that every learner discovers through the process of learning.

How do you define Learning and what enables you to make meaning of new knowledge?

Hanrui Zhang, Lead Speaking Center Coach

To me, the definition of learning is the process of receiving and responding to feedback. Any online search for the purpose of feedback will close with something along the lines of “to improve the system it gets fed back into.” As a bilingual coach, student, and older sibling, feedback has been a central focus of how I’ve both taught others and learned things in life.

In my experience, learning is a synthesis of feedback. Learning is taking the feedback and making a conscious note to actively work towards using that feedback as fuel for positive improvement. As a sort of self-sufficient feedback system, before I sleep every night, I ask myself to type out or vocalize 3 positive actions I did during the day, and 3 actions I could have performed differently in to improve the day.

Usually, the actions I liked doing consist of something along the lines of “I’m happy I got a nice sweet cup ice cream today.” Despite the more whimsical nature of this specific observation, I still believe I accomplished the point of identifying positive actions. In this case, I’ve found that learning about what made me happy in the day is a crucial step towards building a positive mindset for getting excited about learning more things in general.

For the 3 things I could have done better, I usually take a deep dive into my words and attitudes towards others during the day, and I’ll often evaluate several of my thought processes throughout the day as well. As a Speaking Center Coach, I find this part relatively easy on the days I have work, since there is always a rich treasure trove of interactions during every appointment that I can draw from to assess today’s behavior.

In a more macro lens, identifying 3 positive actions at night help me realize that my studying paid off for a difficult quiz, that my coaching during a session really helped a student feel better about a speech, or that I finally got some ice cream to eat after skipping lunch. In another light, this “feedback” for myself helps push me towards experiencing the feeling that the positive action entailed. Similarly, the 3 areas of improvement that I identify help push me to be more conscious of what made me not perform those actions to the best of my ability. My self-awareness of these improvements I could have made help make meaning of how I felt about those actions.

Another reason why I define learning as feedback is because I have witnessed students who I’ve coached at the Speaking Center learn so much about themselves through my feedback. I strongly believe that a huge part of coaching is being able to provide useful feedback to the student, which in turn motivates the student to improve themselves in that aspect. Whether it be an observation about their pace, eye contact, transitions, style, or posture, every bit of feedback helps students identify and stick to better paths in their learning process.

All in all: to learn, seek feedback. Understand and remember the things you are doing correctly in the learning process and identify the improvements that can be made. When there is a constant system of input and output of those items, the learning process becomes a much more multi-dimensional experience. As a coach, I hope to always provide honest, accurate, and real-time feedback to ensure that everyone learns about public speaking the smart way.




Great Speaker

Jacquelyn Horton, Speaking Center Director

Jacquelyn is the director of the USF Speaking Center and an instructor in the Department of Rhetoric and Language.  She received her Masters of Arts in Communication Studies and Certificate in Composition from San Francisco State University.  She has worked as a public speaking instructor and professional speaking coach for over ten years, teaching university students, community members, and industry leaders to become successful at the challenging task of public address.  Jacquelyn’s greatest joy is preparing peer tutors for their coaching work in the USF Speaking Center.


As a public speaking coach and professor, I am often asked if a person can learn to be a great speaker or if they are just born a talented speaker. My answer is always a resounding, “YES, you can learn how to be a great public speaker!” There is no doubt in my mind with the right teaching, practicing, and commitment to learning, anyone can become a great presenter. Now of course we can all think of a person who has the right temperament and easy charisma that makes them a natural public speaker, but even those “naturally talented” speakers have to study and practice public speaking to be truly great. I see it over and over as a public speaking professor; the confident and talented public speaker relies too much on their natural talent and ends up earning lower grades than the student who studies and practices public speaking.


The first step to learn and prepare to be a successful presenter is to understand your personal speaking anxiety and finds ways to minimize that anxiety. Most people feel nervous when they public speak, but we usually don’t present that anxiety to the audience. Research shows us that the audience does not perceive a speaker to be as nervous as the speaker claims to be. So, even when we feel nervous we are not presenting that to the audience. I believe in fake it till you make it – project confidence until you start to feel it. I promise with a few successful public speaking experiences under your belt, you will start to feel confident and maybe even enjoy it.


The second step is to prepare for your speeches. When we feel anxiety or apprehension about something we tend to put it off and procrastinate. PLEASE stop doing this! if you want to succeed, you have to give yourself the space and time to prepare! Preparing means picking a topic you care about, finding a message you want to share with an audience, something you are passionate about, researching your topic, analyzing the content, organizing it in a way that is accessible for your audience, drafting outlines, and practicing delivery. This is a lot of work and you time to do this, so please don’t let the anxiety cause you to procrastinate.


The third step is to PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE! You must stand up and speak out loud when you practice. You need others to watch you and provide feedback, you need to think about your content, organization, and delivery. You must leave time to practice. If you think you should practice three times, double that and practice out loud six times. Practicing will help you know where you need to improve your delivery, content, or organization and it will help minimize communication apprehension and maximize confidence.


Many great speakers needed to prepare and learn to become successful at public speaking: Winston Churchill, Steve Jobs, Michelle Obama, and Hillary Clinton, are just a few of the many examples. You to can become a successful and confident public speaker! Come visit us at the Speaking Center we will help you get there!


Task Preparation – Didem Ekici

Didem Ekici

Supplemental Instruction Graduate Intern

Didem is the Learning Center Graduate Intern for Supplemental Instruction (SI) and she supports USF undergraduate students in their roles as Supplemental Instruction Leaders. Didem earned her Master of Education with TESOL concentration at Salem State University in Massachusetts and moved to the Bay Area a few years ago to pursue her doctoral education in International and Multicultural Education at University of San Francisco, where she works as a teaching assistant now. In addition to 9 years of teaching experience with linguistically and ethnically diverse students, she also worked with ESL students and immigrant families in different projects. Didem is currently the Director of Coordination in a non-profit peace building organization, Applied Ethics/Pax Populi.

“What is the chief way in which you prepare for an important task? What person, thing, or situation
influenced you to prepare in the way that you do?”


Two things really affect the way I get prepared for an important task; the amount of time I have
and the importance of the task. I will walk you through the steps to the preparation of an
important task but please keep in mind that everybody has a unique personality which also
affects the way they approach tasks. Therefore, it is very important to know about yourself; in
other words, become more self-aware. For example, if you are a very detail oriented person
and spend extra time on details, your steps might be slightly different. Therefore, it might be a
good idea to consciously observe yourself and note down the things you spend more time on,
the things you are good at and you do quickly. Here are the steps that work well for me;

1- Figuring out what we expect from this important task as an outcome is the most
important step since it determines the rest of the preparation process. In other words,
you should set your goal first while working on an important task. For example, at the
end of this presentation, “I would like to persuade my audience to…” or “I would like to
get an A from this final exam”. On the other hand, if your goal is to only give information
about a topic in your presentation or if you need only a B on your final exam, then the
way you get prepared for the tasks would be different. Therefore, please decide on
what you want and set your SMART goals first before moving forward.
2- After you decide on your goal, you should think about how much time you need to
achieve this goal. The amount of time you have determines how effective and practical
you should be. For example, you can get ready for the same task in seven days or in
seven hours. If you have seven hours, you have to be more focused and work on it more
intense. On the other hand, if you have seven days, you can spread the preparation time
throughout the week but the outcomes and the consequence might be different
depending on how you prepare. Therefore, please keep in mind how much time you
have and whether you can achieve your goal in that time frame.
3- Now that you have a goal and time frame, you can decide on the tasks that need to be
done by the deadline. Breaking down the tasks into more manageable pieces is very
important at this point since these smaller pieces make the tasks seem more achievable
and prevent you from procrastinating. For example, if you have a presentation and if
you do not know where to start, it might be intimidating and prevents you from sitting
down and doing the task. However, if you break it down into smaller pieces such as;
a- Decide on the important topics you will touch on (how much information
you will share with the audience),
b- Prepare the power point with short notes on each slide
c- put your visuals on each slide and
d- Finally, rehearse, rehearse rehearse…

You can also set a time frame or deadline for each task. You can apply this technique for
everything. Believe me, after you complete each task, you will feel better and more
determined to finish the whole task 

4- Review! Always review what you have done before the final outcome and go back to
your goal to see if the final version of your task aligns with your goal(s). If not, ask
yourself which parts need to be changed. After making the necessary changes, you are
are done.
Just relax and enjoy the feeling of achieving an important task. Rewarding
yourself with an ice cream might be a good idea 
In this process, please always remember Benjamin Franklin’s words; “By failing
to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Good Luck!

Jamie Capetillo

America Reads Graduate Intern

Jamie is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Higher Education and Students Affairs at USF. She got her B.A. in Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies and Ethnic & Racial Studies from the University of Wisconsin La Crosse. As the America Reads Graduate Assistant, Jamie coordinates K-3 literacy tutoring at various school sites in San Francisco and trains undergraduate tutors working with the program. Advocating for equitable and accessible education for marginalized students is what brought her to the America Reads position. In her free time Jamie likes to explore the city, find new coffee/tea/smoothie/yogurt shops, read novels and poetry, listen to music and spoken word, and enjoy other forms of art. Come find her in the lower level of


“What is the chief way in which you prepare for an important task? What person, thing, or situation influenced you to prepare in the way that you do?”


When I left for grad school, my mom told me that it was very important that I stay organized and on top of things so that my life wouldn’t become a huge mess. My mom is one of the most organized people I know, without even having to try. She stays on top of things and never fails to get her stuff done. So this semester I tried to channel her, and I think I’ve been pretty successful.

Soooo….. I’m going to share some of what’s been working for me with you because I find that for me, the best way to prepare means organizing myself before I even start that important task!

Some of Jamie‘s “Major Keys” to being organized in school, Planner Edition:

1. Get yourself a planner!!!! My planner is my life. Planners are different for everyone, some people like to physically have their planner so they can hold it and see, others need to have their planner on their phone and or computer. This can simply be utilizing your google calendar or finding an app that works for you. My friend swears by Wunderlist, I personally haven’t tried it but it works for him. For me, my dream is to invest in a Passion Planner. It’s an interactive planner that allows you to map out your month and week, reflect on things, and most importantly create TO DO LISTS! I love those things.

2. ACTUALLY USE YOUR PLANNER! I’ll be honest with you… this was the hardest part. I’ve always been given a planner from my schools, but I never used them. Then I would go and forget about appointments, meetings with friends, or that I had a project due. Looking back on my first few years of undergrad, I could have saved myself so much time and stress if I had been organized and utilized my planner. Right now, I find myself gravitating towards my google calendar when it comes to a planner. I really like that it’ll buzz a reminder on my phone or on my computer so I am forced to remember things.

3. Schedule in your assignments from your syllabus!!! Sounds super easy right? Take it a step forward and in your planner, use a red pen to mark the day an assignment is due. Write it out in blue pen in the two days ahead; black for three to five days ahead; and green for six to nine days ahead (doesn’t have to be those colors, I read this tip in a different blog once, and I’ve done it this way, you don’t have to.) By doing this you’ll always see when your assignments are coming up! Also, you won’t be caught off guard let’s say when your friend tells you your practicum materials are due tomorrow. Just a fictitious example!

4.  While you’re at it, schedule in everything. If you’re one of the few people I’ve shared my calendar with, you’ll see that literally everything I do is on my calendar. I have when I’m going to workout, when I’m going to run errands, when I’m going to have fun, and when I’m doing homework. I also set myself reminders throughout the day and when it comes close to turning things in. Ex. I’m a procrastinator, so on the day that our reading summaries are due for one of my classes, I’ll have multiple reminders pop up on my phone and computer, to keep me on track, and make me feel bad if I’m actually on facebook or something.

5. One final tip I have for y’all is color coding can save your life. For me, In my planner, I have everything color coded. My work is = purple, Homework time = red, optional events = default color, my side hustle = yellow…. you get the picture. For me, this helps me see a balance, and also know what is coming up. For classes, I also color code. My theory class is yellow, so I highlight in yellow, my notebook is yellow etc… My student development class is green. This helps me know how to organize things in my binder, and when I’m looking for something for a class, be able to find it easier. This way for instance, if I’m in a rush and all my readings fall out in the middle of an airport, I know exactly where each of them goes.

Please know that what works for me isn’t necessarily going to work for you. And that for me it took a lot of trial and error to find what really helps me stay organized and on top of things. Find out what works for you by trying different techniques! Also be honest with yourself when it comes to your effort and things that are getting in your way. By doing this you can adjust small things that you could be doing better. Now go prepare, you got this!

“Filled with Yet”: A growth mindset on preparation

Written by Rachel Brunson, Learning Center Assistant Director

Rachel graduated from USF’s School of Education with a Master of Arts in Organization & Leadership (emphasis in Higher Education & Student Affairs) in 2013, after receiving her Bachelors degree in English from Notre Dame de Namur University in 2011. She is originally from Angels Camp, CA, a small town in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Rachel is passionate about enriching student success and impacting student persistence through collaborative learning and peer leadership; she is grateful to work in the Learning & Writing Center, which cultivates individualized learning environments for USF students. Outside of work, Rachel enjoys reading, writing, knitting, hiking, playing the piano, watching basketball, and traveling with family and friends.


“What is the chief way in which you prepare for an important task? What person, thing, or situation influenced you to prepare in the way that you do?”


“As I reflect on how I approach and prepare for important tasks, two things come to mind: (1) utilizing resources and (2) mindset.


We often think that personal success is determined by what we have accomplished on our own, but success can also be defined by how we utilize the resources and support around us to increase our likelihood to reach goals and complete tasks. Getting started early and building a foundation to launch from are essential components in my preparation process. When I’m approaching a task I often start by asking myself questions: What do I already know about this, and what do I need to learn in order to complete it? Who might I be able to reach out to for key insights or ideas? Have I done anything like this before that I can draw upon? Breaking a greater goal into subgoals and then creating a task-list for each subgoal helps me to feel less overwhelmed as I get to work.


In a recent workshop I attended the speaker mentioned how we should re-frame our outlook on what it means to be successful. She asked the group to think about if we only celebrate our “outcomes” rather than also celebrating our “efforts.” This approach of “praising the process” speaks to me, and also ties into the research of Carol S. Dweck, a professor of Psychology who is known for her work on the mindset psychological trait. Her writing and lectures on the “growth mindset” (versus the “fixed mindset”) inspire me because they offer me hope for a successful future. When I am not afraid to make mistakes while I am learning, I am more likely to successfully complete an important task. With a growth mindset, my preparation process might be a little more messy…over time, however, I have learned to fight my tendency to strive for perfection. As I realize I am not perfect (which I realize over and over), I also realize that the opportunities to try again or to do what I haven’t yet been able to are typically always waiting. This doesn’t mean I support taking serious things lightly. Rather, we should give ourselves the space we need to accept our shortcomings and strive to improve. I have found that this approach relieves stress I used to experience in both my academic and professional environments.


If you have ten minutes to spare, check out one of my favorite TedTalks, “The Power of Believing That You Can Improve.”


Do you find yourself commonly needing to approach new or unfamiliar content or assignments? It is natural to put pressure on ourselves to accomplish things on your own, and this can be daunting. I encourage you to check out Carol Dweck’s research, and if you are a student at the University of San Francisco, do not hesitate to visit The Learning Center for resources or assistance. We sit down 1:1 with students for Academic Skills Coaching appointments to help you get started and stay on track!”


Task Preparation – Haley Rietman

What is the main way in which you prepare for an important task? Was there a specific person, event or situation that taught you to prepare in this way?

This blog post was written by Haley Rietman.

Haley is the Program Assistant in the Learning Center. She started in June of this year and has immensely enjoyed working in higher education. By working in the Learning Center, Haley feels that she is able to contribute to the success of students and help them achieve their goals.

“When I have an important task, event, or project I am working on, I believe that preparation is key. I have learned through experience that time management and planning are important to my personal methods of preparation. I like to use what is called Eisenhower’s Decision Matrix to determine what tasks I should put more of my focus into before moving onto the next.

When I was a student in high school, my father always stressed what he called the important/urgent method. This is what I now know as Eisenhower’s matrix. It is a way of using your time efficiently and effectively. After making a to-do list, I decide whether a task is important, urgent, both, or neither. An important assignment would entail something that contributes to one’s long term goals and values. An urgent task is something that should be dealt with in a quick manner. Tasks that are both important and urgent take priority, whereas tasks that are neither can be saved for another day, and tasks that are important will take precedence over tasks that are solely urgent. Therefore, the order of prioritization would be:

  1. Important and Urgent
  2. Important
  3. Urgent
  4. Neither Important nor Urgent

Prioritizing tasks by using this mechanism has benefited my preparation methods far more than anything else I have ever used to prepare.  Below is a diagram that further explains how the matrix should be used and I encourage anyone and everyone to try out this method if you are looking for a new tool to help you manage any and all aspects of your life.”