Supporting learning: Study Skills

As part of my work in the education team at The Bodleian Libraries we have recently overhauled our resources to support the development of study skills.

In part this has been in response to feedback about our OxLibris programme which supports students researching for their Extended Project Qualification (EPQ). We support local schools in developing their students’ research skills and they visit us to access books, journal articles, and other texts not generally accessible outside of an academic library.

We also needed to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Because we were no longer open visitors (or anyone else), we needed to move the programme online so it was accessible to schools. This also allowed us to extend the reach of the resources beyond Oxfordshire.

In the first stage of this move, we have produced a set of five study skills guides. Although designed to meet the requirements of the EPQ these also provide useful guidance on researching for any project or essay.

The guides can be accessed on the OxLibris Study Skills page, in the ‘Online Resources’ section.

Effective online searches covers how to use advanced search engine tools effectively to refine your online research.

Evaluating online resources provides advice of assessing the quality of online sources of information, how to verify such information and how to spot fake news.

Effective note taking gives guidance on making concise research notes that focus on making connections between ideas using the Cornell notes system developed by Walter Pauk.

Avoiding plagiarism explains what plagiarism is and why it is taken so seriously. Drawing on guidance from the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ), this guide also explains how to avoid plagiarism in assessed work.

The guide to referencing explains how to cite sources of information used in work. There are two versions, one explaining referencing using the Harvard name-date style and the other using the recurrent number style.

Feel free to have a look at these guides and download them for use with your students. They are not for commercial use and copyright remains with The Bodleian Libraries.

I am currently working on a set of presentations on these topics designed for use either by teachers in class or for students working independently.


I am indebted to David Gimson and Lorna Robinson at Cheney School, Sophie Roach at Gosford Hill School, and Jackie Watson at Oxford Spires Academy for providing feedback on earlier drafts of these guides.


Supporting Learning: HOPE for the future

My work at the Oxford Museum of Natural History is in the Learning Team of the NLHF-funded HOPE for the future project. Our aim was to commence visiting schools in Summer 2020 but this was put on hold by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead, we altered our focus to providing resources online that teachers could either use in school or set as remote work for their students. We also thought that families at home might like to try the activities.

The suite of six resources is aimed at Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3, although some were also trialled successfully with younger children. They form a sequence but can also be used as stand-alone items. We also produces some planning and recording templates for some activities.

You can see an overview of all the downloadable resources on the Hope Learning Resources webpage. Please feel free to download them for use with your classes.

How to spot an insect covers Insect anatomy and what makes insects distinct from other arthropods. There’s a multiple-choice quiz to help check understanding.

Insect ID introduces classification by looking at the ‘Big 5’ insect orders: beetles, true flies, true bugs, bees wasps & ants, and butterflies & moths. There’s also a quiz to check understanding.

Know your bees focuses on this group of insects with practical activities on observing, identifying and investigating British bees.

Three investigations then follow, the first on insects visiting different flowers. This structured activity takes children through the stages of an investigation using simple equipment.

Investigating Insect Pollination includes activities on observing pollinators visiting flowers, forming a research question based on these observations, then planning an investigation to answer this question.

Bee experiment: time of day covers a focussed investigation into the foraging behaviour of bees visiting a specific flower type.

If you use any of these resources, we’d love to hear what you think. Either comment here or use this feedback form.

We are currently planning the next part of the project which is a virtual summer school to run during the school summer holidays.


Thanks to PGCE students at Oxford University Department of Education and members of the OUMNH Youth Forum for commenting on drafts of these activities. Thank you too to teachers and pupils of Larkrise Primary School, St Gregory the Great Primary School, and Windmill Primary School for trialling the resources.

Study Skills

You can read about resources to teach and support the development of good study skills in this post on Study Skills Guides.