Student perspective: Revising with AI tutors as a veterinary student

Photo of Emma, the author of this blog postby Emma Lau, Veterinary Science student and Bristol Futures Advocate

In schools, we are very used to having a tutor to guide us with our learning. However, university teaching is more self-directed and independent It can be quite a big shock to some of us, particularly first-years students, at least that’s what I felt three years ago when I first started vet school.

Veterinary Science is a content heavy subject, having a tutor undoubtedly will help you revise more efficiently and effectively. I never thought I would be able to do that until ChatGPT was launched in November 2022.

Why should we use AI tutor for revision?

Here’s are the two main reasons:

1. Breaking the chains of procrastination.

Procrastination has always been a nemesis of students, and I am no exception. Unlike the monotony of reading through notes, the interactive nature of AI tutoring helps me to stay motivated and on track on my revision plan.

2. Refined learning efficiency.

Content taught any courses in universities, especially health sciences, can be overwhelming. AI can help us to organise and condense our notes. The Q&A method adopted by AI tutor makes my learning process more efficient and enjoyable.

What next?

After knowing the benefits of utilising AI for revision, the next step will be to generate your own AI tutor. It can be difficult and time consuming to create your own bot from scratch. Fortunately, there are plenty of examples of AI tutor bots on the internet for us to use as a template. One of a good example is on the Study Skills online resource Using AI at University! I have been using that template since the release of the resources. It has been very useful as it will start by asking your level of knowledge and then question you on the topic one concept at a time. I also provide ChatGPT or Claude with my notes so they can tailor the questions based on my lecture notes.

Examples on how to utilise AI tutor

Below are some detailed examples of how I used ChatGPT and Claude for revision, hopefully that may inspire some of you on how to use your AI tutor!

1. General review of a topic

Prompt reads: You are an upbeat, encouraging tutor who helps students understand concepts by explaining ideas and asking students questions. Start by introducing yourself to the student as their AI-Tutor who is happy to help them with any questions. Only ask one question at a time. First, ask them what they would like to learn about. Wait for the response. Then ask them about their learning level: Are you a high school student, a college student or a professional? Wait for their response. Then ask them what they know already about the topic they have chosen. Wait for a response. Given this information, help students understand the topic by providing explanations, examples, analogies. These should be tailored to students learning level and prior knowledge or what they already know about the topic. Give students explanations, examples, and analogies about the concept to help them understand. You should guide students in an open-ended way. Do not provide immediate answers or solutions to problems but help students generate their own answers by asking leading questions. Ask students to explain their thinking. If the student is struggling or gets the answer wrong, try asking them to do part of the task or remind the student of their goal and give them a hint. If students improve, then praise them and show excitement. If the student struggles, then be encouraging and give them some ideas to think about. When pushing students for information, try to end your responses with a question so that students have to keep generating ideas. Once a student shows an appropriate level of understanding given their learning level, ask them to explain the concept in their own words; this is the best way to show you know something, or ask them for examples. When a student demonstrates that they know the concept you can move the conversation to a close and tell them you’re here to help if they have further questions.
Prompt borrowed from Using AI as a Tutor

 

EL - Phenobutyrone. AI - Yes, close. The notes state to use IV phenylbutazone for mild-moderate colic pain in an ambulatory setting. Phenylbutazone (bute) is an NSAID pain medication often used for lameness and colic cases. What medication can help relax the rectum to aid in performing a rectal exam on a colicky horse according to the notes? EL - Buscopan AI - Excellent! The notes specify using hyoscine (Buscopan) to help relax the rectum and aid in rectal examination of a colicky horse. To summarise main points so far ...
Chat excerpt: testing veterinary knowledge on equine colic

 

2. Creating practice MCQs (multiple choice questions)

The image gives three examples of multiple choice questions generate by ChatGPT on the topic of the Barium follow through study
Multiple choice question generated by ChatGPT

 

If you’re looking to revolutionize your study routine, why not give AI tutors a try? Whether it’s ChatGPT, Claude, or other available resources, such as Q-chat on Quizlet, incorporating AI into your learning can make the process more interactive and enjoyable.

For more information about using AI tools for study, see our online guide to Using AI at University

 

Student perspective: My journey with MarginNote mind maps

by Allison Sia, Law student and Bristol Futures Advocate

Imagine the convenience of an app seamlessly transforming your highlights into dynamic mind maps…

This thought has lingered at the back of my mind since my second year at the university after reading 80+ articles and dedicated countless hours to crafting mind maps by hand whilst dreading the process. Since then, it has always been a quest for me to find an app that tailored to this specific need. If you are currently in a similar situation, join me in exploring MarginNote as I candidly discuss its benefits and drawbacks whilst shedding light on the overall user experience.

Mind map with one main heading and four sub-headings. Two of the sub-headings have additional branches coming off them.
STARTING: As you set out the headings and subheadings for quick reference

Advantages of the Margin Note app

  1. Efficiency and time-Saving features. One of the standout advantages of this app lies in its remarkable ability to automatically generate mind maps. This not only streamlines the entire process but also translates to significant time savings. You could say goodbye to tedious manual creation as the app effortlessly transforms your highlighted texts into a well-organised mind map, allowing you to invest your time more effectively in understanding and synthesizing information. 
  2. Transformation of messy handwritten mind maps. Reflecting on my early attempts at crafting mind maps by hand, I vividly recall the frustration of dealing with the inevitable messiness that ensued. Rewriting those mind maps became a recurring task, consuming valuable study time that could be dedicated for more further reading materials. Now, with the app’s automated mind map generation, I bid farewell to the chaos of messy handwritten drafts.  
  3. Headings: enhanced organization & personalisation. This feature allows you to add a layer of organization to your content, making it easier to identify key concepts and crucial information. Personally, I found this particularly helpful as it enabled me to highlight key details and even express concepts in my own words. The app’s flexibility in accommodating these personalised touches enhanced my ability to tailor the mind maps to my unique learning style.  

Advantages of mind mapping 

  1. Instant insight into article content. Mind mapping provides a swift and comprehensive overview of article content. By visually structuring key ideas and their relationships, users can gain immediate insight into the core themes and main points discussed, facilitating a quick grasp of the article’s overarching message. 
  2. Efficient information retrieval. One of the prime benefits of mind mapping is its ability to streamline information retrieval. Where you would be able to swiftly locate specific details, facts, or concepts within the mind map, eliminating the need for time-consuming searches through lengthy texts. This efficiency is particularly valuable when seeking targeted information for research or study purposes. 
  3. Enhanced memory retention through quick scans. The visual nature of mind maps enables users to engage in rapid scans, aiding in the retention of information. By associating concepts with visual cues and spatial arrangements, the mind map becomes a memory aid. This quick scan approach proves especially effective in reinforcing key details and improving overall memory recall.
  4. Conceptual breakdown into digestible units. Mind mapping excels in breaking down complex concepts into easily digestible, bite-sized chunks. Each branch or node represents a specific aspect, allowing for a focused examination of individual components. This process of deconstructing information enhances comprehension and promotes a more thorough understanding of intricate subject matter. 

 Limitations of the Margin Note app 

  1.  Absence of highlighting on mind maps. One notable constraint of MarginNotes is its limitation in facilitating direct highlighting on the mind map itself. While the app excels in automatically generating mind maps from your highlights, it falls short when it comes to allowing users to visually emphasize or color-code specific branches or nodes on the mind map. This absence of a highlighting feature on the mind map may be perceived as a drawback for users who prefer a more visually interactive and customizable approach to studying.
  2. Inability to bold words on the mind map. Another notable limitation lies in the app’s inability to apply formatting options, such as bolding, directly on the mind map. The significance of bolding cannot be overstated, especially in the context of identifying and emphasizing keywords within the text. Bolded words serve as visual cues, aiding in the quick recognition of essential terms or concepts. The absence of this formatting feature within the mind map may be a hindrance to those who rely on visual distinctions for efficient information retrieval. 

 Limitations of mind mapping

  1. Applicability to diverse article types. Mind mapping, while a powerful tool, may not be universally suitable for all types of articles. Particularly, content-heavy articles laden with intricate statistics might pose a challenge for effective mind mapping. The visual nature of mind maps may struggle to encapsulate the quantitative nuances found in such articles, potentially limiting their applicability to certain genres of content.
  2. Passive engagement during mind map creation. An identified limitation arises during the creation of mind maps, especially when utilizing an app. The process may inadvertently lead to a more passive engagement with the text. While the intention is to distil information into a visual format, the risk is that users may opt for a quick skimming approach rather than immersing themselves deeply in the content. This shift in engagement levels could potentially result in a less thorough understanding of the material. 
Section of a mind map with multiple branches, which then branch further. The branches are colour coded.
You might end up with something like that…

In summary, this app not only saves time through its automated mind map generation but also elevates the quality of your study materials by providing a clean and organized alternative to messy handwritten notes. With the added benefit of customizable headings, it empowers you to shape your learning experience according to your unique preferences, fostering a more effective and personalized approach to studying.

In conclusion, for those interested in creating mind maps, I recommend giving the app’s free trial a go! 

For more information about using AI tools for study, see our online guide to Using AI at University

 

Student discount. According to the official page of MarginNote, you would be eligible for a 40% discount off MarginNote3 if you are currently going to a legit university as a student or teacher after the end of your free trial (14 days). More information to apply is linked here

Student perspective: 3 reasons to do a summer internship at Bristol University

Photo of Eliana, the author of this blog postby Eliana Garcia, Mechanical and Electrical Engineering student and Bristol Futures Advocate

I am Eliana Garcia, Mechanical and Electrical Engineering student (BEng). I did a summer internship at Bristol Robotics Laboratory in 2023. It was a transformative experience, include immerse learning, skills development, and self-reflection. and here are three compelling reasons why you should consider an internship at Bristol university.

  1. Putting Learning into Practice

As an intern, I had the chance to apply the theoretical knowledge I had acquired during my studies. Embodied intelligence, a subject I had admired from afar, became tangible as I worked on a project involving a quadruped robot. The open-source, torque-controlled legged robot platform challenged me to translate textbook concepts into real-world solutions. It was exhilarating to see equations come alive in the form of mechanical movements. An internship allows you to test yourself, bridge the gap between theory and practice, and keep your learning active.

  1. Rapidly Acquiring New Information

Internships are like accelerated learning labs. At Bristol Robotics Laboratory, I honed essential study skills that extended beyond the classroom. Academic reading, note-taking, and library research became my daily companions. I learned to navigate research papers effectively, evaluating their relevance and extracting valuable insights. Seeking guidance from subject librarians, I discovered hidden gems in the form of specialized books related to soft robotics and dynamic control. The Cornell Method for notetaking became my secret weapon—capturing key points, making connections, and summarizing material for future reference. These skills are invaluable, whether you’re pursuing academia or venturing into industry.

Photo of robotics equipment

  1. Visualizing My Future Path

Internships offer a glimpse into your professional destiny. As I immersed myself in the world of robotics, I reflected on my strengths, weaknesses, likes, and dislikes. Beyond the lab, I pondered my post-university options. Would I thrive in industry, pushing the boundaries of innovation? Or should I continue my academic journey, pursuing a master’s degree? Perhaps there was an entirely different path waiting—one aligned with my passions. The internship acted as a compass, guiding me toward self-awareness and informed decision-making.

Finally, my time at Bristol Robotics Laboratory expanded my technical knowledge, but it also enriched my academic toolkit. It equipped me with essential skills, broadened my perspective, and allowed me to visualize the myriad paths that lay ahead. So, if you’re considering an internship, don’t merely think of it as a checkbox. Instead, view it as an adventure—a chance to explore, learn, and shape your future. Bristol University awaits, ready to ignite your curiosity and propel you toward greatness.

There are many opportunities for undergraduate and postgraduate students internships and placements. For more information about internships open the following link: https://www.bristol.ac.uk/students/life-in-bristol/careers/internships-and-placements/

Using AI at University: a new online resource from the Study Skills team

How do you feel about the huge developments in Artificial Intelligence we’ve seen over the past year? Depending on your point of view you may feel excited, overwhelmed, anxious, or all 3 of these things (and perhaps many more) all at once.  

Many of us in the study skills team felt precisely these things. We’re particularly aware of the opportunities and challenges that generative AI tools like ChatGPT, Google Bard and Claude present to students. When used appropriately they have the potential to massively enhance your learning and take your skills in any number of areas to the next level.  

But these AI tools can also be used unethically: to write essays or generate code for assessments which students should be creating themselves. We also know that lots of students want to use these tools but don’t know how, or are worried they may inadvertently break the University’s rules. That’s why we’ve put together a guide to help you. 

The online resource

Our online resource Using AI at University explores how generative AI works, so you can understand what it’s capable of and what it can’t do. We also set out some of the university rules about using AI for assessments, and explain why these rules will vary from unit to unit. The key principle behind these rules is to consider your own learning – are you using AI in a manner which develops and enhances your skills? Or are you using it in a way which is actually stopping you from gaining some really important skills for your subject? 

Besides understanding the rules about AI we want to help you start putting these tools to practical use as study aids. Our guide contains a catalogue of some of the most popular AI tools, and pages on writing effective prompts and turning these AI programs into your own virtual tutor. AI tools are far from perfect though, so it’s important you approach them critically and cautiously as we outline on our page about AI errors, hallucinations and fact-checking. 

AI playgrounds 

We hope that the online resource will help you to understand generative AI and how to use it within the university guidelines. However, we also believe that the best way to develop your AI skills is through practice. That’s why we’re running AI playgrounds in November. These are practical sessions where you can experiment with tools like ChatGPT, Claude, Google Bard and more.  

In the playgrounds we’ll show you how to how to access these tools and discuss some strategies for using them effectively before giving you some space to play around with them. Our Study Skills tutors and student advocates will be close at hand to assist.  

You can view times and dates of our upcoming AI playgrounds and book into them here. 

Letter to my undergraduate self: Becky Selwyn – ‘Be yourself and do things your way’

Inspired by the Big Issue’s regular feature Letter to My Younger Self, we’re asking staff to think back to their own experiences as a student and tell us what advice they would give to their undergraduate selves.

In this post, we’re delighted to hear from Becky Selwyn, Senior Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering.

Photo of Becky, the author of the blog post

What and where did you study? 

I studied my MEng in Mechanical Engineering here in Bristol, and as part of the course I spent a year studying in Saint Etienne (in France) for my 3rd year. I stayed here to do my PhD as well, and then realised that lecturing was the thing I wanted to do with my life so I’ve been here ever since!

Did you experience culture shock when you started university? 

Yes and no – the studying wasn’t too bad as I had been used to self-motivating and managing my own time from secondary school, and had been working full time during my gap year, but it was overwhelming being surrounded by so many new people all the time. I’m quite introverted, and had only attended relatively small schools, so the step change up to large halls of residence and 100-person lectures was a lot to deal with (I have no idea how UGs cope now that there are sometimes 450 students in a lecture theatre!). Eventually I made some friends to sit with in lectures and to spend time with outside lectures, and that helped me to manage the social overload I felt the rest of the time.

What was your biggest failure and what did you learn from it? 

I failed a unit in my final year, and was absolutely devastated. It didn’t stop me graduating, but my initial response was to contact the Unit Director and ask whether I could attempt the resit (obviously without it being recorded on my transcript) – I was desperate to show that I could pass the unit properly, even if it wouldn’t count towards anything. The Unit Director told me to get in touch after the resit period and they would send me a copy of the exam to try. Of course by the time the resit period arrived, my initial feelings about the failure had faded and I didn’t ask for the paper – I was busy enjoying the start of my PhD. It made me realise that initial responses to failure can be very intense, but context, patience, and time make it easier to accept and move on from.

What are you most proud of about your time at university? 

In my first year, we had a group design project to make a cup dispensing machine, and my group won the competition. I’d suggested the design for the door, and we were the only group who had that type of mechanism and design, so I like to think that my idea helped us to win, even though our outer casing was held together with tape!

What was the best bit of feedback you received? 

I don’t remember receiving any feedback on my work other than a numerical grade and maybe a couple of vague words, but I do remember how I felt after various informal conversations with different members of staff. Some were really positive and left me feeling like I could take on any challenge. Others left me feeling that I didn’t belong here and should give up. I guess the impact of those conversations has influenced how I try to interact with people now – I saw that kindness, reassurance, and support went a long way towards helping me believe I could succeed on my own, so that’s what I try to provide for others. It also made me realise that feedback isn’t just a written comment on a piece of summative work – it’s everything that happens that makes you think about your work, and I try to help students see that too.

What advice would you give to your undergraduate self?

My undergraduate self wouldn’t believe it, but I’d tell myself that I am enough, and should have more confidence to be myself. Everyone is different, and that is where our strengths come from, so stop seeing all the things you aren’t and start embracing all the things you are. Be yourself and do things your way, because it will eventually show others that they can be themselves and succeed on their own terms too.

 

If you’re a staff member or postgraduate student and would like to write own letter to your undergraduate self, please get in touch: study-skills@bristol.ac.uk

 

 

Student perspective: overcoming anxieties about giving presentations

by Helen March, English and History student and Bristol Futures Advocate

Helen, the author of the blog postDeadline season is looming and along with it comes a myriad of assessments, exams and sometimes even presentations. Delivering presentations at university can often be pretty overwhelming. Most degree programmes will ask you to give at least one during your time at university, and this might be the first time you’ve ever had to speak in public before. This can be quite scary, especially when you are presenting to a large audience or panel. Personally, I found the prospect of communicating my academic ideas incredibly daunting, as it was something I’d never done before.

But it doesn’t have to be daunting! Presentations are a great way to express a level of creativity in an assessment and can often result in really good marks. Below are some helpful tips about public speaking which can help tackle those nerves for your next presentation assessment.

Make a Script or Prompt Cards

It can often help to have some prompts to read from when giving a presentation; nobody is expecting you to remember everything word for word! Whether it’s some flash cards or a word document with your entire script, having something in front of you with the relevant information on will make sure you know what you need to say next. It can prevent you from having a mind blank if you’re worried you’ll panic when you get up in front of everyone.

Eye contact

Having said that, don’t stare at your script too much! It’s important to engage your audience. Although everyone is always encouraged to look people in the eyes when giving presentations this can often be quite difficult to do. It’s also pretty intimidating! Instead, try looking just above people’s heads. It will look like you’re speaking directly at them, but avoid the awkwardness of staring at anyone too much.

Project!

Make sure you are speaking at a good volume. It’s okay to be a bit too loud but make sure you’re not too quiet. As long as everyone can hear you then you should be okay. If you have the opportunity to, it can often help to visit the room you will be presenting in first so you know the size of it, check whether there is a microphone, and can test out how loudly you need to speak.

Practice!

Whether it’s in front of a flat mate, family member or just recording yourself on your phone, practising your presentation before you actually give it can really help. Not only will it make sure you’re familiar with your entire script, but it will improve the communication of your argument and allow you to work out how to pace yourself more easily. It can also help to pick up on anything which you might have missed from your presentation or script when you were putting it together. Practising your script will hopefully mean you’re less reliant on it when it comes to the actual presentation, and your argument will flow more easily.

If you’re still struggling, you can also attend one of our presentation skills workshops, which will give you the opportunity to discuss these skills and try out your public speaking skills.

Have you got any tips for public speaking? Share them below!

Letter to my undergraduate self: Kerrianne Orriss – ‘Everything is fixable as long as you’re willing to learn’

Inspired by the Big Issue’s regular feature Letter to My Younger Self, we’re asking staff to think back to their own experiences as a student and tell us what advice they would give to their undergraduate selves.

In this post we’re introducing Kerrianne Orriss, Study Skills Tutor.

Kerrianne, the author of this blog post

What and where did you study? 

History BA (Hons) at St Andrews, Royal Holloway and then Liverpool (three universities in 4 years – don’t ask!)

Did you experience culture shock when you started university? 

Yes – to the extent that I changed universities twice. I kept worrying that either I wasn’t performing well enough, or I did not fit in with my peers (or both). At St. Andrews there were many privately educated students who had bucketloads of confidence and could (it seemed to my 18-year-old self) converse fluently in ancient Greek and Latin. In my first classical civilisation class, the lecturer repeatedly referred to Persia and I panicked – where was this place and why had I not heard of it? My head was a-blur with so many unfamiliar words and concepts that belonged to a different world. At my school, showing an interest in ancient languages (or anything that was fascinating to me!) meant instant ostracisation. At university I became aware that other students had a head start on me – not only in their places of education but in their exposure to other worlds.

What was your biggest failure and what did you learn from it? 

The many times I kept silent in a tutorial. I was petrified of the sound of my voice filling the austere silence of the room. I often had a theory to put forward but my inner voice told me it was wrong or stupid. I then felt like an idiot when someone else gave ‘my’ answer and was praised. I gradually learned that my opinions were just as valid as my peers and that my difficulty with thinking under pressure was not insurmountable. I found that I could prepare not only by doing the pre-reading for the tutorial but by anticipating the kind of questions and arguments that might arise.

What are you most proud of about your time at university? 

As you can tell by now, I was not the most confident or self-aware student! I am proud that I developed my own techniques for studying as a dyslexic learner during a time when there was much less support for those with learning difficulties. I am proud that despite lacking confidence, I did start to believe in myself and speak up in classes. I am proud that I developed from a terrified nerd to a student who led study support groups in the third year and was confident in standing up for their beliefs. I am still a nerd, though.

What was the best bit of feedback you received? 

Typically, the only feedback I remember is bad feedback; bad on behalf of both myself and the tutor. He merely wrote ‘17’ at the end of my essay and popped it in my pigeonhole so he didn’t have to talk to me. I collected it and cried because I thought I’d failed. I went to my personal tutor to say I was leaving the university as I wasn’t fitting in with the ‘clever students’, to which he replied that a 17 was a first, so what was I thinking? I left anyway. It amuses me, looking back, that I did not think to look at the grading system or ask for more substantial feedback for that essay. There wasn’t a Study Skills service back then – alas, I would have learned so much!

What advice would you give to your undergraduate self?

Oh so many things! Here are the highlights:

Don’t eat so many marmite sandwiches – yes they are cheap, but you won’t want to look at marmite for another 20 years.

Don’t be afraid to talk to someone about your mental health – it’s so normal to struggle with university life and to feel like you don’t fit in. Ignore negative comments about being a feminist, not eating meat and caring about the environment. You will find your tribe.

Everything is fixable as long as you’re willing to learn. I wouldn’t change a thing about my childhood, but I wish I could tell my 18-year-old self that you can catch up on missed education, and there’s not some kind of secret society that imbues members with world knowledge and super-intelligence!

 

If you’re a staff member or postgraduate student and would like to write own letter to your undergraduate self, please get in touch: study-skills@bristol.ac.uk

 

 

Student perspective: How I engineer my time

Asda, the author of the blog postby Asda Napawan, Mechanical and Electrical Engineering student and Bristol Futures Advocate

Managing and balancing work-life time as an engineering student is a difficult task due to the nature of the degree. To manage my time effectively, I use all of the following methods:

1. Rough Schedule

Plan a rough schedule for the week or month, only including meetings, classes and solid plans as unforeseen events may arise as time progress.

2. Detailed schedule

Plan a detailed schedule for the next day, including a list of tasks to be completed (e.g., asynchronous content, homework, and coursework)

3. Target setting

Set a target for the day and take as much time as needed to be completed. As engineering work can be time-consuming, and sometimes takes longer than anticipated, setting time for each individual task can be difficult.

4. Time blocking

Schedule specific time slot for each task. Estimate how long it will take for each task and try to do it in one goal.

5. Prioritising

Identify the most important tasks and focus on them first.

6. 5-minutes tasks

Do quick, 5-minutes task straight away to prevent forgetting about them and to clear them from your to-do list.

7. Pomodoro method

Focus for 25 minutes and then take a 5-minutes break. Repeat the process until that work is finished or reached the target set.

8. Tools

Tools such as Google calendar could be used to keep track of tasks, mark them as completed, and monitor the progress. The tool is convenient because it can be accessed on multiple devices and syncs across platforms.

By implementing these time management tools and strategies, I can prioritise tasks, create structure in my day, and make the most of my time to achieve the goals. What time management strategies have you found to be the most effective for your studies or work, and how have they helped you to achieved your goals?

Cover letters written by ChatGPT and other Artificial Intelligence programmes: the results, dangers, and what to do if you’ve submitted one

We’re recruiting! See this blog post for information about becoming a Bristol Futures Student Advocate for 2023/24. Then read on to find out what we’re looking for in a cover letter, a key part of your job application.

 

We know job applications and cover letters can be difficult to write. Sometimes the pressure and stress leads people to look for shortcuts. In recent months we’ve seen an increase in people using Artificial Intelligence programmes such as ChatGPT to help them write their University assignments. Some may also be tempted to use these programmes to write their applications and cover letters for jobs like the Bristol Futures Advocate roles.

Let’s take a look at some of the potential weaknesses of cover letters written by AI, and think about what you can do to write a successful application yourself instead.

Cover letters written by AI programs can often be:

  • Generic: they use similar phrases and sentences, which we then see repeated across multiple cover letters. This results in cover letters which are…
  • Impersonal: they do not tell us much about you as a candidate and as a person. Why do you really want to apply for this role? What is it about the job that interests you?
  • Unevidenced: they make claims for possessing skills, abilities and experience but don’t give us real examples or show how you gained them.
  • Plagiarised: in some instances AI programs copy sentences word for word from the job advert. This leaves an impression of an uncreative and potentially dishonest candidate.

What we look for in successful cover letters:

  • Good cover letters are personal. They introduce us to you as a candidate and as a person, telling us about what attracted you to this job, and how it aligns with your skills, interests and experience.
  • They are also evidenced, giving us specific examples of where you have gained experience, and actual evidence for the skills that you possess.
  • Finally, they are informed: they engage with the themes and elements of Study Skills and Bristol Futures beyond just the summaries given in the job advert. This shows us that you have researched the role: you’ve looked into what we do as a service and what the role entails. Your decision to apply then demonstrates your confidence that you are well suited for the Advocate position.

You can find more guidance on writing good cover letters on this page from the University Careers Service.

What to do if you have submitted an application written by an AI

If you have used an AI program such as ChatGPT to write your cover letter for the Bristol Futures Student Advocate position we strongly urge you to reconsider and potentially resubmit your application. Even if you haven’t used ChatGPT you may find the following steps useful:

  1. First of all review your cover letter and CV and think about the points we’ve listed above. Are you demonstrating to us who you are as a unique individual candidate? Have you provided specific evidence for your skills and experience?
  2. You may then want to revise or rewrite your cover letter to make improvements.
  3. Finally, you are welcome to resubmit your application to us. Please be assured that we will not take this as an admission or indication that you have used AI to write your original application. You will be considered as a candidate on the merit of your latest application alone. We will be accepting applications until 11.59pm on Friday 24 March 2023.

If you have any questions about the Student Advocate role or the application process you can contact us at study-skills@bristol.ac.uk. If you want to further improve your job application skills remember too that the University Careers Service will be very happy to meet with you and provide support.

Now Recruiting: Bristol Futures Student Advocates 2023/24

Two students wearing Bristol Futures students sitting behind a table. They are talking to a student with their back to us.

Be part of a dynamic team promoting and delivering Bristol Futures in the 2023/24 academic year. 

As a Bristol Futures Student Advocate you’ll be an ambassador for Study Skills and the other elements of Bristol Futures, promoting them to members of the University and public alike. You’ll also support fellow students by running Study Skills drop-ins and workshops, staffing pop-up stands, attending events and having input into online learning resources and more. You’ll develop skills in organisation, teaching, support, public speaking and team working, all of which will be valuable for your future career development. 

We’re looking for applications from any student at Bristol to join our Advocate team for the 2023/24 academic year, whether you’re undergraduate or postgraduate, home or international, as long as you’ll be a registered student in 2023/24. We’ll train you in all the skills you need and work with you throughout the year to ensure you develop and gain the best experience possible from working with us. We are also seeking students with skills in coding to assist at our weekly Coding Clubs. 

Bristol Futures is a university-wide initiative which enhances and enriches education at the University of Bristol, ensuring that students have the skills, knowledge and attributes to succeed in their lives at university and beyond. These skills, knowledge and attributes lie within three themes: Innovation and Enterprise, Global Citizenship and Sustainable Futures. For more information visit https://www.bristol.ac.uk/bristol-futures/ 

Core duties of the Advocate Role:  

  • Act as an ambassador within your faculty to promote Study Skills and Bristol Futures. 
  • Deliver one-to-one peer support sessions to students for Study Skills. These may take the form of drop-in sessions at the Study Skills Hub in Senate House, or peer support in regular study groups.  
  • Lead workshops on Study Skills. Workshops may run face-to-face or online. 
  • Advocates with skills in coding may assist with our weekly Coding Clubs.
  • Attend and assist in organizing promotional activities (such as pop up stands and lecture ‘shout-outs’).
  • Assist in utilizing social media to promote Bristol Futures’ activities and events.  
  • Assist in gathering feedback from students and academics in your faculty to help develop and shape Study Skills and Bristol Futures.  
  • Meet regularly with your Study Skills faculty tutor. 
  • Work collaboratively with Bristol Futures staff to help develop Bristol Futures events and resources.  
  • Co-create marketing materials and help publicize Bristol Futures. 
  • Additional activities will be required as the role continues to develop.  

Benefits of the role:  

  • This is a paid role (see wage details below). 
  • You will be provided with comprehensive training that will equip you with the knowledge and skills to carry out this role. Ongoing training will be provided throughout the duration of your contract as the role develops.  
  • Work experience to enhance your CV i.e. marketing, group-work delivery, time management, leading and influencing. 
  • An opportunity to shape the development of an ambitious, innovative university-wide project. 
  • The source of a reference for future employment / LinkedIn recommendations.  
  • This role can provide evidence that will contribute to the Bristol PLUS Award / Bristol PLUS Outstanding Award. (All team members are encouraged to participate in this award).  

Wage:  

Advocates are paid a wage of £10.49 per hour. This role attracts a holiday increment of 12.07% per hour (so total paid per hour is £11.76). Workshop delivery (expected to start in the autumn after training) is paid at £16.27ph, (£18.23ph with holiday pay). Wages are paid monthly in arrears via the Temporary Staffing Service (TSS).   

Hours / Contract: 

  • Working hours will be discussed at interview, but will range from 0 – 6 hours per week (you will not be expected to work during University holidays or assessment periods)  
  • Training will begin in September 2023 and continue throughout the year. Contracts will begin in September 2023.
  • Please note that to be eligible for this role you must be a registered student at the University of Bristol in the 2023/24 academic year.

How to apply: 

Please apply with a CV and covering letter outlining your suitability for the role. You can find our advice on writing a cover letter here.

Submit your application to Dr Tim Worth (Study Skills Coordinator) at tim.worth@bristol.ac.uk by 11.59pm on Friday 24 March. 

Further information: 

If you require clarification of the above information or have further questions about the role, please contact study-skills@bristol.ac.uk 

Closing date: 11:59pm Friday 24 March 2023 

Provisional interview dates: Monday 17 – Friday 28 April 2023