CALS Learning Lab: Powered by the SALT Center

You can learn to be your best learner. Sound strange? It’s true! Like professional athletes, trained musicians, or skilled artisans, mastering a skill at your highest level doesn’t happen overnight. This type of success is built on years of training, experience, falling – and getting back up again.

Learning is that way too. Learners, like you, can refine and elevate their ability to understand, comprehend, and communicate. Where does your journey to learning success begin? For students in the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, you’ll start with the CALS Learning Lab: Powered by the SALT Center. Shawnda Garcia, CALS Learning Coach, works with CALS students to develop success goals, build skill with proven academic strategies and help learners learn better. Shawnda is a coach and professional educator with nearly 30 years’ experience.

Schedule an appointment with Coach Shawnda or add these effective learning tips and strategies into your study routine!

“Coach” Shawnda will work with you to address topics including:

  • Organizing Course Material
  • Time Management
  • Reading Strategies
  • Study Strategies
  • Writing Strategies
  • Using Tutoring Effectively
  • Academic Performance Concerns
  • Test Taking Skills
  • Note Taking Skills
  • Lecture Strategies
  • Goal Setting
  • Screening for Learning and Attention Challenges

How to Schedule an Appointment


Are you meeting with Shawnda for the first time? If so, fill out this referral form first.

Have you met with Shawnda previously? If so, schedule an appointment through eSMS.

New to eSMS? Reference our How-to Guide when scheduling your appointment.



Learning Tips

Note Taking

  • Pay attention
    • Prepare to listen, pick seat with fewest distractions
    • Format your notebook/laptop for note taking
  • Listen for the lecture’s objective
    • Think about how information will be organized/presented
  • Retrieve information from prior learning
    • Remember past terminology, main points
    • Connect topic with past associations
  • Try to detect the organization for the lecture
    • Is it cause/effect, comparison/contrast, explanation?
    • Alternate your words with lecture’s words
  • Listen for verbal cues
    • Listen for “note the following”, “this is important”
    • Use mnemonics
  • Think of sample questions/problems during the lecture
    • Correct any inaccuracies that you can detect immediately

Looking for a new note taking strategy?
Give TWO COLUMN notes a try for the next few weeks. Here is an example of how to use this fantastic strategy.

Want to support with note taking? Connect with Coach Shawnda today!

Time Management

Anytime is a good time to reflect on your courses and academic experience:

  • How have you done with time management?
  • Do you find yourself missing classes or assignments?
  • Or do you find yourself spending all your time trying to keep your head above water with no time to enjoy campus life?

One strategy to plan for the rest of the semester? Use a time management grid, like this one. It takes less than 10 minutes to fill out but will offer a ton of support in this semester.

  • Fill in all classes
  • Fill in all weekly commitments (clubs, study sessions, sports activities
  • Fill in breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Now, you can look for gaps in your day to schedule homework, reading, and fun. Before committing to anything, look at your grid to determine if you truly have the time.

Want to support with time management? Connect with Coach Shawnda today!