Category Archives: Organisational Skills

Summative Results: Dealing with Expectations & Disappointment

Semester A, Summative results are due for release shortly. For some the stress & anxiety is coming to an end, whilst for others it is just beginning. 


The stress and anxiety you feel leading up to results day has a lot to do with your own expectations, but also those of your family and / or account payer. There are a variety of options available to you in terms of dealing with your and other’s expectations, as well as with the disappoint of possibly not having done as well as you had hoped:

Dealing with assessment result pressure and expectations

Assessment result anxiety is a very real thing and can be experienced during the wait for results or even once you’ve received them. Feelings you may experience include:

  • happiness
  • jubilation
  • disappointment
  • depression
  • guilt
  • confusion
  • anger
  • illness
  • numbness

Expectations, both real and imagined, internal and external, need to be managed in order to minimize their harmful, demotivating effects and maximize their energizing, positive effects. Ways of dealing with pressure and expectations, in relation to assessment results, include:

  • Talking to someone who is not directly impacted by or involved in the situation, such as a friend or the BMH counsellor.
  • Talking to the person who is setting the expectations, and explaining that the added pressure is not helping.
  • Re-assessing your own expectations – are they realistic, are they attainable, are they helping or hindering you?
  • Writing down your feelings, drawing, singing, dancing – these are all cathartic ways of expressing and excising what you are feeling.
  • Avoid using alcohol and / or drugs as a coping mechanism, the problems and stress will still be there once you sober up.

It is also useful to take a step back and put things into perspective:

  • Poor assessment results are not the be-all and end-all of life as you may know it – unless you allow them to, they cannot stop you from achieving your long term goals.
  • Poor assessment results are not a reflection of your worth – they are a snapshot of a moment in time in your life.
  • Ask yourself “Will this matter in five years from now?” – if the answer is “yes” now is the ideal time to make a change and put a plan into action; if the answer is “no” then let it go.


Your options going forward

Depending on your assessment results, you have a number of options going forward:

a) Apply for a Supplementary

Second chances are a wonderful thing BUT before you get too excited and rush off to collect a Supplementary Assessment Breif, read the fine print and make sure you meet the requirements for a supp:

  • Did you get 30% or more for your first summative assessment attempt?


  • Were you legitimately ill or absent for the summative assessment and do you have a valid medical certificate to back this up?
  • The 2017 supplementary fee for summative assessments is R350.00

For more information on supplementary assessments please consult your 2017 BMH Student Rulebook or click here.

b) Submit an Appeal

You have the right to appeal an assessment outcome.  All summative assessments are returned to students for the purpose of advancing learning and verification of grades awarded (excluding exit-point, exit-level subject summative assessments). It is thus your responsibility to check your assessment and grade awarded and inform your Branch Manager if there are any discrepancies.

You have five (5) working days, from the day that results are published to submit an appeal for a specific assessment event. Appeals submitted after the 5 day window will not be taken under consideration.

For more information on the procedure to follow should you with to appeal an assessment result please consult your 2017 BMH Student Rulebook or click here.

c) Set Up a Student-Lecturer Meeting

If after you have received feedback on the summative assessment and you are still unclear of where you went wrong or lost marks, consider setting up a student-lecturer meeting. All BMH lecturers have consultation hours during which they are available to meet with students.

For tips on how to prepare for and get the most from a student-lecturer meeting click here.

d) Schedule a Session with BMHs Counsellor

Sometimes you just need someone to talk to and be there for you, which is why BMH offers free counselling to all its registered students. You may be dealing with problems (personal and / or academic) which are bothering you and preventing you from achieving your goals, or you may just need an objective person to share your concerns with. For more information on how to go about scheduling a session with BMH’s Counsellor please click here.


Reach (2015). Dealing with Exam Results. Retrieved from: [Accessed: 24 June 2016].

Student-Lecturer Meetings

Scheduling an appointment and meeting with a lecturer can be a daunting task. The two main things you need to remember are that:

a) All lecturers were once students themselves and,

b) Most lecturers are lecturing because they love their subject and enjoy teaching and interacting with students. 


What is a lecturer?:

Lecturers teach academic, vocational and craft-based subjects to undergraduate and postgraduate students at universities and institutions of higher education.

Their teaching methods vary and may include: lectures, practicals, workshops, seminars, field work and tutorials.

For most lecturers, teaching is only one aspect of a broad range of duties they have, which is why they set specific consultation hours, which is time purely dedicated to meeting with and assisting students.

Lecturers are trained experts in their particular field of interest. Their role is not to impart knowledge but rather to provide their students with a basic framework of knowledge and information; in order for the student to then go and explore and discover more detailed  and complex information for themselves via independent study.

Getting to know you:

Unlike your teachers when you were at school, chances are many of your lecturers will not know you by name. Although it may be intimidating or perceived as “uncool” to meet with your lecturers, it is in fact a beneficial and necessary step to take.

Simple ways of getting to know your lecturers include:

  • Attending classes – Don’t underestimate the importance of class attendance. Yes, there may be 100+ of you in a particular class, but if you are present at each lecture your face will become familiar to your lecturer and this will stand you in good stead come the day you need to meet with your lecturer face-to-face.
  • Submitting assignments on time – You don’t want a lecturer to get to know you because you are the student who is always asking for an extension or handing in assignments late.
  • Participating in class – This is the simplest way of getting your lecturer to know your name and face. The point here however, is to contribute to the lesson by asking relevant questions etc., not by being the class clown and making inane comments and jokes.
  • Make an appointment to meet with your lecturer – Most Boston lecturers have consultation hours during which they are available to meet with students. If you need help with an assignment, are struggling with a concept, or just need guidance in the subject set up an appointment to meet with your lecturer.

How to get the most from a student-lecturer meeting:

There are a few simple ways of preparing for a meeting with a lecturer:

  • As already mentioned, it is best to go see your lecturer during their specified consultation hours. By doing this you will be sure of finding them in their office and they, in turn, will be able and ready to meet with you.
  • Use your appointment time well. Be clear about what it is you hope to achieve from the meeting. This of course means that you need to spend some time before the meeting preparing and deciding on what the aim of the meeting is.
  • Come prepared. There is no point in attending a meeting in which you hope to get advice or assistance on a particular topic, but you have not bothered to revise your notes and readings in preparation for the meeting. Without context the advice and guidance you receive from your lecturer will be useless.
  • Make a list of questions or issues you want to discuss. This will help keep the meeting focused and will ensure that you don’t walk out having forgotten to discuss something. It also helps to prioritise your list so that you spend adequate time on the important issues.
  • Take notes during your meeting, don’t assume you’ll be able to remember everything that was discussed and the advice that was given.
  • Don’t leave it until the last minute. Don’t pitch up at your lecturer’s office the day before a submission deadline and expect them to help you.

What not to discuss during a student-lecturer meeting:

  • Why you think you deserve a better mark on an assignment. Boston has specific rules and procedures for appealing an assessment outcome (refer to your Student Rules and Regulations booklet). Directly appealing to a lecturer is only going to result in you being referred back to the Student Information Desk  in order to follow correct procedure.
  • Requesting an extension on an assignment due date. Once again, Boston has specific rules and procedures for applying for an extension (refer to your Student Rules and Regulations booklet). Requesting an extension verbally and directly from a lecturer will only result in you being referred back to the Student Information Desk in order to follow correct procedure.
  • Why your personal or social life has prevented you from attending classes / submitting an assignment / sitting an exam . A death in the family or emergency surgery are verifiable, legitimate life situations. However, missing classes, submitting an assignment late or being unable to sit for an exam because of something less than a major, viable emergency is just not acceptable at college level. As a college student you are expected to conduct yourself and manage your time in a mature and professional manner.


Lucier, K.L. (2014). 5 Things Not to Talk to Your Professor About. Retrieved from: [Accessed on: 15 February 2016].

Higher Education Lecturer. (2015). Retrieved from:  [Accessed on: 15 February 2016].

What to Expect from Uni Life. (2015). Retrieved from:  [Accessed on: 15 February 2016].

Time Management – Important vs. Urgent Tasks

Good time management results in the effective and efficient use of one’s time, and reminds us that: many tasks are important, but not all are urgent.  


Time pressure is a prevalent source of stress both at college and in the world of work – it is the result of having too much to do, and not enough time to do it all in. The Eisenhower Principle is a prioritization method which allows for the categorization of tasks in a straightforward, no gray areas manner. The principle helps you consider your priorities and then decide which tasks are essential (or important) and which are distractions.

However, before we can continue, we first need to understand the difference between what it means for something to be “important” and for it to be “urgent” – the authors at Mind Tools have defined it well:

Important activities have an outcome that leads us to achieving our goals, whether they are professional or personal. 

Urgent activities demand immediate attention, and are usually associated with achieving someone else’s goals. They are often the ones we concentrate on and they demand attention because the consequences of not dealing with them are immediate.”

According to the Eisenhower Principle tasks fall into one of four categories:

  • Important and Urgent
  • Not Urgent but Important
  • Not Important but Urgent
  • Not Important and Not Urgent

Each category is then assigned a recommended plan of action:

  • Important and Urgent – Do it now.
  • Not Urgent but Important – Decide on when to schedule it in.
  • Not Important but Urgent – Delegate it to someone else.
  • Not Important and Not Urgent – Delete it.


How to Apply the Eisenhower Principle

The application of the Eisenhower Principle is quite simple provided you are able to make a decision regarding the categorization of tasks, and then stick to it.

STEP 1: Select a task and decide whether or not it is urgent. This will help you in deciding whether immediate action is necessary or not.

STEP 2: Using the same task as for Step 1, decide whether it is important or not. This will help you decide whether it is something you need to do yourself, or whether it can be delegated to someone else.

Priority 1 Tasks

priority-1These are tasks that are both urgent and important. These tasks need to be seen to immediately and by you personally. They will be assigned the highest priority on your to-do list.

However, if you are spending the majority of your time on these types of tasks, you are being reactive, rather than planning your work and actions ahead of time.

Priority 2 Tasks


These are tasks that are important but not urgent; they need to be attended to personally but not immediately, so you need to schedule in time to address them. It is helpful to assign these types of tasks a beginning and end date – this will also help you with assigning them a priority rating on your to-do list.

Ideally, most of your tasks should fall under Priority 2 tasks.

Priority 3 Tasks


These tasks are urgent but not important, so they require immediate attention but not necessarily from you. These tasks are usually someone else’s priority, not your own. If at all possible, delegate these tasks to someone else, or decide whether they are in fact a Priority 4 task.

Priority 4 Tasks


These are tasks that are neither important nor urgent, and so are mostly a waste of your time. These tasks should be dropped as they add no value to your productivity.

How Does Eisenhower Fit Into This?


The story goes, that in a speech in 1954, former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower quoted the president of a U.S. university when he said:

“I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.”

This is apparently how President Eisenhower arranged and managed his workload and priorities…thus, becoming the Eisenhower Principle.


Eisenhower’s Urgent / Important Principle: Using Time Effectively, Not Just Efficiently. (n.d.). Retrieved from: [Accessed on: 21 February 2017].

The Eisenhower Method. (n.d.). Retrieved from: [Accessed on: 21 February 2017].


Group Work – Overcoming Challenges & Handling Conflict

Working in a group & having to deal with different personalities & schedules, can at best be challenging, and at worst result in total fallout

tug of war

Managing Group Conflict

You aren’t all going to agree on everything all the time – that just isn’t how groups function, at some point there will be disagreements and possibly tensions, and the way in which this is expressed and resolved is of importance.

When conflict arises within the group or between group members try to:

  • Remain objective. This means focusing on the issue of disagreement and not on the person you are disagreeing with i.e. do not attack the person, their personality, their personal traits.
  • Remain calm and hear each other out. If the disagreement turns into a shouting match and free-for-all, call a “time out”, give everyone a few minutes to calm down and collect themselves, then re-open the discussion with the rule that each person will get a chance to speak.
  • Use “I” Statements. This requires you to take responsibility for your own feelings and will help you to improve your communication when you are feeling angry or upset. The purpose of using “I” Statements is that the focus is placed on what is causing the upset whilst minimizing blame e.g. instead of saying: “We are sick of you arriving late for meetings”, you’d say: “I feel frustrated when you arrive late for meetings because it leaves the group with less time to work” OR instead of saying: “You never respond to group e-mails”, you’d say: “I feel annoyed when you don’t respond to group e-mails because it makes it difficult to figure out whether or not you agree with the suggestions being made”. The format for an “I” Statement is: “I feel _______when you_______because_______.”

I Statements

Challenges & Possible Solutions

Some common challenges when working in a group include:

Uneven contribution:

One or more group members are not contributing to the group project or are perceived  as not contributing, resulting in increased group tension and possible conflict.

Possible Solutions –

  • Set up clear expectations and guidelines for the group from the very start.
  • Assign roles & responsibilities so as to ensure that everyone contributes equally to the end product.
  • Address the issue directly and respectfully with the person/s who is not pulling their weight.
  • Include a “Record of Contribution” from each member in your project – this is a report that identifies exactly what each person in the group contributed to the project. If two people report contributing the same thing, this will raise alarms bells for your marker, and the students may then be required to provide evidence supporting their claim.
  • Refer back to the posts on: Group Work – The Basics and Group Work – Getting Organised & Started 
Scheduling Problems:

This may result in work on the project starting late or not being able to continue, resulting in feelings of resentment and frustration.

 Possible Solution –

  • Consider using alternative ways of meeting or communicating, set up an e-mail group or What’s App group for example, and use that as a way of discussing important items and keeping the project moving forward.
  • Refer back to the post on: Group Work – Getting Organised & Started.
Different Expectations & Work Ethics:

Some members may be striving for a distinction whilst others are just interested in passing. Some may go the extra mile and get their work done ahead of schedule, others may procrastinate, leaving their contribution to the last minute. This may cause considerable group tension and resentment because it feels as if not everyone is committed to the project. 

Possible Solutions –

  • Keep work and project goals realistic and attainable.
  • Remember that your actions (or lack thereof) will impact on others in the group or the group as a whole.
  • Agree on a schedule upfront and revise it periodically to ensure that everyone is keeping pace.
  • Refer back to the post on: Group Work – Getting Organised & Started.
Getting Stuck:

Groups sometimes hit a wall and get “stuck” – this can result in procrastination and work avoidance.

Possible Solutions –

  • Re-read the assessment brief focusing on the expectations and goals of the assessment.
  • Call a brainstorming session so that you can generate and discuss ideas.
  • Use mind mapping to link common ideas and threads.
  • Set up a group-lecturer appointment to discuss the problem and get unstuck.
  • Refer back to the post on: Student-Lecturer Meetings.


Effective Group Work. (n.d.). Retrieved from: [Accessed on: 07 July 2016]

Therapist Aid. (2014). “I” Statements. Retrieved from: [Accessed on: 19 April 2016]

Weimer, M. (2014). 10 Recommendations for Improving Group Work. Retrieved from: [Accessed on: 04 September 2015]

Working Effectively in Groups. (n.d.). Retrieved from: [Accessed on: 07 July 2016]