Study skills sessions package
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A series of slides to help new students get started in HE and writing essays etc

A series of slides to help new students get started in HE and writing essays etc

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Study skills sessions package Presentation Transcript

  • 1. Study skills The following slides should be used in conjunction with the relevant hand-outs to help students develop their skills in academia. The package does not constitute a compete programme rather a work in progress which will be periodically amended and added to as and when necessary. The information contained within has been compiled from various sources. K Brown 2011 1
  • 2. Study skills Section 1: Academic writing. K Brown 2011 2
  • 3. Objectives To introduce the idea of academic writing.  To demonstrate the importance of clearly defined structure.  To explain and demonstrate the importance of paragraph and sentence content and structure.  K Brown 2011 3
  • 4. Introduction.  Academic writing is one of cornerstones of university study.  In all disciplines (modules), students (and their teachers) need writing to express their ideas clearly.  “Good prose is like a windowpane” (George Orwell) K Brown 2011 the 4
  • 5.  You want your reader to „look through‟ the writing to the ideas beyond.  If things like structure, verb tenses, or spelling and punctuation are not correct your reader may be distracted by these surface problems – just as when we look through a mudsplattered window. K Brown 2011 5
  • 6. Unfortunately mastering academic writing is not as simple as cleaning a window. K Brown 2011 6
  • 7. Three key areas Writers seeking to improve their academic writing skills should focus their efforts on three key areas: 1.Strong writing 2.Excellent grammar 3.A consistent stylistic approach K Brown 2011 7
  • 8. Strong writing Thinking precedes writing. Good writers spend time distilling information from their sources and reviewing major points before creating their work. Writing detailed outlines helps many authors organize their thoughts. Strong academic writing begins with solid planning. K Brown 2011 8
  • 9. Excellent grammar Learn the major and minor points of grammar. Spend time practicing writing and seek detailed feedback from teachers, professors or writers you respect. K Brown 2011 9
  • 10. Consistent stylistic approach Choose one style and stick to it. Your institution will normally have guidelines informing you of its preferences with regards to font, size, spacing etc. K Brown 2011 10
  • 11. Paragraphs  Paragraphs should group your ideas together at a glance.  The force of a piece of writing will be very much diluted if the reader is unable to see where a paragraph begins and ends.  A paragraph should deliver and move on. K Brown 2011 11
  • 12. How will you demonstrate where paragraphs begin & end? To indent or not to indent?  Space or no space?  Often university specific guidelines will inform us of the preferred format i.e.  2 point line spacing Arial 12 justified K Brown 2011 12
  • 13. Paragraph division exercise Which of the following clearly show paragraph divisions? K Brown 2011 13
  • 14. 1. Struebat iam fortuna in diversa parte terrarum initia causasque imperio, quod varia sorte laetum rei publicae aut atrox, ipsis principibus prosperum vel exitio fuit. Titus Vespasianus, e Iudaea incolumi adhuc Galba missus a patre, causam profectionis officium erga principem et maturam petendis honoribus iuventam ferebat, sed vulgus fingendi avidum disperserat accitum in adoptionem. Materia sermonibus senium et orbitas principis et intemperantia civitatis, donec unus eligatur, multos destinandi. augebat famam ipsius Titi ingenium quantaecumque fortunae capax, decor oris cum quadam maiestate, prosperae Vespasiani res, praesaga responsa, et inclinatis ad credendum animis loco ominum etiam fortuita. ubi Corinthi, Achaiae urbe, certos nuntios accepit de interitu Galbae et aderant qui arma Vitellii bellumque adfirmarent, anxius animo paucis amicorum adhibitis cuncta utrimque perlustrat: si pergeret in urbem, nullam officii gratiam in alterius honorem suscepti, ac se Vitellio sive Othoni obsidem fore: sin rediret, offensam haud dubiam victoris, set incerta adhuc victoria et concedente in partis patre filium excusatum. sin Vespasianus rem publicam susciperet, obliviscendum offensarum de bello agitantibus. (Source: Ash, 2007) Does this clearly show paragraph divisions? K Brown 2011 14
  • 15. (Yes) Correct. Two paragraphs can be seen. However the first is a little short for accademic writing (two sentences). (No) Incorrect. Whilst it is not perfect, this example does clearly show two paragraphs. K Brown 2011 15
  • 16. 2. Struebat iam fortuna in diversa parte terrarum initia causasque imperio, quod varia sorte laetum rei publicae aut atrox, ipsis principibus prosperum vel exitio fuit. Titus Vespasianus, e Iudaea incolumi adhuc Galba missus a patre, causam profectionis officium erga principem et maturam petendis honoribus iuventam ferebat, sed vulgus fingendi avidum disperserat accitum in adoptionem. Materia sermonibus senium et orbitas principis et intemperantia civitatis, donec unus eligatur, multos destinandi. Augebat famam ipsius Titi ingenium quantaecumque fortunae capax, decor oris cum quadam maiestate, prosperae Vespasiani res, praesaga responsa, et inclinatis ad credendum animis loco ominum etiam fortuita. ubi Corinthi, Achaiae urbe, certos nuntios accepit de interitu Galbae et aderant qui arma Vitellii bellumque adfirmarent, anxius animo paucis amicorum adhibitis cuncta utrimque perlustrat: si pergeret in urbem, nullam officii gratiam in alterius honorem suscepti, ac se Vitellio sive Othoni obsidem fore: sin rediret, offensam haud dubiam victoris, set incerta adhuc victoria et concedente in partis patre filium excusatum. sin Vespasianus rem publicam susciperet, obliviscendum offensarum de bello agitantibus. (Source: Ash, 2007) Does this clearly show paragraph divisions? K Brown 2011 16
  • 17. (Yes) Incorrect. Whilst we can identify the end of paragraph 1, it is not instantly discernable. (No) Correct. At first it seems like a long stream of writing. K Brown 2011 17
  • 18. 3. Struebat iam fortuna in diversa parte terrarum initia causasque imperio, quod varia sorte laetum rei publicae aut atrox, ipsis principibus prosperum vel exitio fuit. Titus Vespasianus, e Iudaea incolumi adhuc Galba missus a patre, causam profectionis officium erga principem et maturam petendis honoribus iuventam ferebat, sed vulgus fingendi avidum disperserat accitum in adoptionem. Materia sermonibus senium et orbitas principis et intemperantia civitatis, donec unus eligatur, multos destinandi. Augebat famam ipsius Titi ingenium quantaecumque fortunae capax, decor oris cum quadam maiestate, prosperae Vespasiani res, praesaga responsa, et inclinatis ad credendum animis loco ominum etiam fortuita. ubi Corinthi, Achaiae urbe, certos nuntios accepit de interitu Galbae et aderant qui arma Vitellii bellumque adfirmarent, anxius animo paucis amicorum adhibitis cuncta utrimque perlustrat: si pergeret in urbem, nullam officii gratiam in alterius honorem suscepti, ac se Vitellio sive Othoni obsidem fore: sin rediret, offensam haud dubiam victoris, set incerta adhuc victoria et concedente in partis patre filium excusatum. sin Vespasianus rem publicam susciperet, obliviscendum offensarum de bello agitantibus. (Source: Ash, 2007) Does this clearly show paragraph divisions? K Brown 2011 18
  • 19. (Yes) Correct. Although a different format from the first, this also shows clear division between paragraphs (No) Incorrect. It is perhaps the most clearly divided of them all. K Brown 2011 19
  • 20. Paragraph content Paragraphs group your ideas into clear points. Since the idea of most academic writing is to convince the reader of a particular interpretation or hypothesis, it is vitally important that your writing guide the reader through a series of logically ordered points (the argument). By organizing your ideas into paragraphs, you help the reader understand where your argument is going K Brown 2011 20
  • 21. Paragraph content exercise Which of the following are examples of well-structured paragraphs? K Brown 2011 21
  • 22. 1. So we can see by the end of act one that Martha not only wants a child, but a job. The audience is left wondering: how will she get a child? There are several possibilities, Robert being one. But he is obviously not a reliable kind of guy, and probably wouldn‟t be a good father, which is somewhat worrying! Right after the gambling scene, which molly doesn‟t actually know about, she is talking to Miss Marina about working as a cleaner. However, Molly does not get a clue that Robert is undependable when Sally comments: „My three-year-old would do a better job of looking after that horse!‟ (source: Laennec, 2009) Is this a well structured paragraph? K Brown 2011 22
  • 23. (Yes) Incorrect. This paragraph is not well focused. At best a first draft, in need of editing. The point unclear & what horse? The tone is also to informal i.e. „kind of guy‟ (No) Correct. As it stands the reader is left somewhat confused, the window is covered in mud. K Brown 2011 23
  • 24. 2. We s e e b y th e e n d o f Ac t 1 th a t M a r th a w a n ts tw o th in g s : a c h i l d , a n d a j o b . O f th e s e tw o d e s i r e s, Ma r tha ' s ye a r n in g fo r a c h ild is th e d e e p e s t. Sh e te lls u s “ I w a n t a b a b y to h o l d mo r e th a n a n y th i n g e ls e in th e w o r l d ” ( Ac t 1 , s c e n e 3 , l i n e 5 ) . T h e g r e a t q u e s tion fa c i n g h e r [a n d b y e xte n s i o n th e a u d i e n c e ] is : w h o w ill M a r th a tr y to h a ve a b a b y w i th ? T h e b e g i n n i n g o f Ac t II fo c u s e s o n th e c h a r a cter o f R o b e rt, w h o m M o l l y i s ve r y a ttr a cted to . We s e e , th r o ug h h is r e c k l e ss g a m b l i n g i n Ac t II, th a t R o b e r t is p r o b a bly n o t g o i n g to b e a r e l i a b l e fa th e r. T h e p r o b le m is th a t a l th o u g h w e th e a u d i e n c e h a ve s e e n h i m g a mb l i n g h is w a g e s a w a y, Ma r th a h a s n o t: s h e is o ffs ta ge d u r i n g th i s s c e n e . F o r th e r e s t o f th e p la y, w e mu s t w a tc h a s h e r l o n g i n g fo r a c h i l d o b s c ures h e r j u d g m e n t o f R o b e r ts tr u e c h a r a cter. (source: Laennec, 2009) Is this a well structured paragraph? K Brown 2011 24
  • 25. (Yes) Correct. Clearly focused, the scene is set in the first sentence, whilst the last sentence leads us on into further discussion. (No) Incorrect. This paragraph has a clear focus and lacks the informal tone of the first. K Brown 2011 25
  • 26. Sentences K Brown 2011 26
  • 27. Sentence structure Hint: reading aloud often helps us craft well-made sentences. Most people can improve their writing by simply reading it aloud. K Brown 2011 27
  • 28. Incomplete sentences An incomplete sentence often suffers from one of the following: Lacks a subject (what or who).  And/or a verb (the action).  In formal academic writing incomplete sentences can appear sloppy. K Brown 2011 28
  • 29. Incomplete sentence exercise. Which of the following is a complete sentence? K Brown 2011 29
  • 30.  1. Which numerous followers of the group have adopted since. Yes OR No?  2. After a great deal of thought, the manager decided to ask his team. Yes OR No?  3. And furthermore the studies are flawed due to lack of robust data. Yes OR No? K Brown 2011 30
  • 31. Answers 1. The first sentence is incomplete, we need to know what the „which‟ refers back to. It could be fixed by simply including the missing information e.g. „Belson‟s safety manual contains many good tips for working with lions, and numerous followers of the group have since adopted it.‟ K Brown 2011 31
  • 32. Answers (cont) 2. This is a complete sentence. 3. This is also a complete sentence. However a sentence should never begin with „and‟ or „but‟. „furthermore…‟ would have worked here instead. K Brown 2011 32
  • 33. Long sentences Much academic writing has very long sentences.  Students are often tempted to imitate this style, thinking the more complicated their writing, the better.  When editing your work (not first draft) try to avoid rambling sentences.  K Brown 2011 33
  • 34. Sentence length exercise. Which of the following sentences could use some pruning? K Brown 2011 34
  • 35. 1. The theory of particle density, which Nelson was the first to propose and which was thoroughly proved by Anderson in the 1930‟s, has since been found to be seriously flawed. „Does this sentence need pruning?‟ K Brown 2011 35
  • 36. This sentence is not overly long for academic purposes, and could stand exactly as it is. However, the sentence could also be divided, by either putting brackets [parentheses] around „(which Nelson…in the 1930‟s)‟ or by making two sentences. K Brown 2011 36
  • 37. Try this one… Nelson was the first to propose the theory of particle density following on from work done by other scientists previously, and Anderson took this up and did more research on Nelsons theory, which was subsequently accepted by the scientific community but has now been disproved on the grounds that it is seriously flawed. „does this sentence need pruning?‟ K Brown 2011 37
  • 38. Yes, this sentence definitely needs some pruning. The writer first needs to look at which elements of the sentence are necessary for understanding. For example, do we need to know that the theory was already accepted „by the scientific community‟ or is that already implicit? Secondly, the sentence needs to be reshaped into something resembling example 1, or even two shorter sentences. K Brown 2011 38
  • 39. Stray bits (structure continued) K Brown 2011 39
  • 40. Stray bits and structure When editing a piece of work you should look out for „dangling articles‟ and dangling modifiers‟ These are stray bits of sentences that need to go in a different place in order to make sense. K Brown 2011 40
  • 41. The „dangling modifier‟ An error in a sentence where a word or phrase can be associated with a word other than the one intended, or none at all e.g.: Turning the corner, a handsome school building appeared. The modifying clause turning the corner is clearly supposed to describe the behavior of the narrator, but grammatically it appears to apply to nothing in particular.  K Brown 2011 41
  • 42. What‟s wrong here? At the age of eight, my family finally bought a dog. First identify: What is the modifier in the sentence? Answer: The modifier At the age of eight "dangles" in mid-air, attaching to no named person or thing. K Brown 2011 42
  • 43. And… Watch out for the „comma splice‟. This is when a writer uses a comma to link two pieces of language that should instead be separated by a full stop or an explaining word. K Brown 2011 43
  • 44. Sentence structure exercise Which of the following examples needs changing? K Brown 2011 44
  • 45. This essay argues that theories of learning are outmoded, they do not take into account new technologies. Answer: this sentence does need changing, the comma has been incorrectly used. The writer has placed the comma where there should be an explaining word e.g.: „This essay argues that theories of learning are outmoded because they do not take into account new technologies.‟ K Brown 2011 45
  • 46. He examined the methodology of the study which had been greatly debated. The sentence needs to be changed because it does not make clear what exactly had been debated, was it the methodology or the study? a. If it was the methodology which was the subject of debate, we could write: „He examined the methodology of the study, which had been greatly debated.‟ The reader should understand that the „which‟ therefore refers to the methodology. However to be absolutely clear we might also write: „He examined the methodology of the study. This methodology had been greatly debated.‟ (and we may need to go on to explain why). b. If it was the study itself which had been debated, we could write: „He examined the methodology of the study. The study itself had been greatly debated‟. Or indeed we could shift the emphasis and explain a bit more, e.g.: K Brown 2011 46
  • 47. Analysis this sentence… When a mere first-year student, Edwards adviser had nudged him in the direction of theoretical physics. Does this sentence need changing? Yes, this sentence does need changing, because the subject of the first part of the sentence is not perfectly clear – we don‟t know who „when a mere first-year student‟ is referring to. [It is a dangling modifier.] We can fix this by the subject in the right way: „When Edward was a mere first-year student, his adviser had nudged him in the direction of theoretical physics.‟ K Brown 2011 47
  • 48. Notes on Punctuation. K Brown 2011 48
  • 49. References & further reading Ash, R. (2007). (ed.). Tacticus: Histories. Book II. New York: Cambridge University Press.  Crème, P. and Lea, M. R. (2003). Writing at University: a guide for students. (2nd edn.). Maidenhead: Open University Press.  Laennec, C. (2009). Improving your writing. Student learning service. University of Aberdeen  K Brown 2011 49
  • 50. Outcomes Having completed section 1; students have been:  Introduced the idea of academic writing.  Demonstrated the importance of clearly defined structure.  Explained and demonstrated the importance of paragraph and sentence content and structure. K Brown 2011 50
  • 51. Study skills Section 2: Essays & Reports. K Brown 2011 51
  • 52. Objectives To demonstrate the difference between different forms of assessment.  To explain the meaning of terms used in assessment questions.  To introduce ways of approaching assessment, and reading questions.  K Brown 2011 52
  • 53. Forms of assessment You will encounter a variety of different kinds of assessment at university e.g:  Essays  Reports  Case studies  Oral presentations &  Exams K Brown 2011 53
  • 54. These days the differences between forms of assessment have merged, essays often include elements of reports etc. Always ask your tutor exactly what they are expecting. K Brown 2011 54
  • 55. The essay A piece of writing which is written to a set of writing conventions. There may be some differences in these conventions depending on subject area, but the following advice will generally apply. K Brown 2011 55
  • 56. Planning an essay (a suggestion) Analyse the question and the keywords. Note the main topics that you are going to cover. Divide any notes and ideas you already have into separate topics – using a separate sheet for each topic relevant to your question. These separate notes will form the separate main paragraphs of your essay once you have added to them with further research. Rearrange your notes. Look at what you have and group related information, perhaps by colour coding with a felt pen, and arrange them in a logical order. Write an outline plan using the topics you have arranged. Write your first plan before you have done any research and that will help you to be more selective and constructive in taking notes. It will focus your reading and you can adapt your plan as you go along. Organise your information. With your colour coded pile of notes divide them into paragraphs of different colours, underlining the main points. Having grouped the information in this way you can start writing your first draft. Each paragraph should have one main idea, with supporting evidence and elaboration from the same colour group of notes. In other words each paragraph should relate to one set of notes. K Brown 2011 56
  • 57. The structure and organisation of an essay Essays normally have four main parts: 1. Introduction 2. Main body 3. Conclusion, & 4. References (and bibliography). K Brown 2011 57
  • 58. The Abstract. You may come across the requirement for an „abstract‟ in some academic work, this does not replace the introduction, but to some extent is very similar. The purpose of the abstract is to summarize the entire paper; the reader will, by reading the abstract be informed of the entire contents of the paper. K Brown 2011 58
  • 59. High Performance Working Practices: The New Framework for Nurturing Sustainability? Abstract A new organisational paradigm demands ethical commitment as well as committed agents towards society, visible practices which are exemplary in the citizenship domain. Within this domain, a culture of social and human solidarity is highlighted, so as to demonstrate to the economic agents that immaterial capital in society functions as the main artery of economy, even if those that are more inclined towards materialistic mind-sets, do not understand this natural order within society. It is in this context that we intend to reflect upon the future ways that organisations foster creativity, based on intangible resources to leverage their sustainability and financial independence. Thus, the objective of this paper is to reflect upon the high performance work organisations framework, which is influenced by Learning Organisations as well as the development human and intellectual capitals in order to structure organisational competitive advantage. Our aim is to bring some light to this framework and demonstrate the importance of its implementation in a society dominated by technological advancements. Keywords: High Performance Work Organisations, Performance, Human Capital K Brown 2011 59
  • 60. 1. Introduction  Your approach to the question, your understanding of the question and the content you intend to cover. (generally about one tenth of the essay in length). „Tell them what you are going to tell them‟ K Brown 2011 60
  • 61. Introduction (cont) Provide context of ideas.  Explain terms.  Introduce previous studies, events etc.  Pave the way for the rest of the document.  K Brown 2011 61
  • 62. 2. Main body  In paragraph form (sometimes with subheadings). Each paragraph should contain a theme or topic, backed up by supporting arguments and analysis.  You should include other writers ideas and arguments, but you must acknowledge the source. You need to analyse the material and give your views without using terms like „I believe, I think or I agree‟ instead use e.g: „after careful analysis it appears…‟ K Brown 2011 62
  • 63. Main body (cont) This is your opportunity to demonstrate your skills in selecting, organising, interoperating and analyzing material relevant to the question.  It is important to maintain a logical and coherent structure to your ideas.  When presenting conflicting or controversial ideas, you are required to deal adequately with all relevant ideas, not just those that seem worthy of support.  Remember you are being judged on your ability to weigh up viewpoints on the basis of available evidence, to evaluate source material and to spot flaws in arguments.  K Brown 2011 63
  • 64. Main body (cont): argument. The structure of the argument should:  Be consistent.  Link ideas together.  Proceed, step-by-step, to a logical conclusion. „Tell them‟ K Brown 2011 64
  • 65. A brief diversion: Argument An argument consists of two main components: 1. A claim 2. Reasons for that claim. When writing an argument, identify the main claim and state the reasons for that claim. Map them out prior to starting: CLAIM= Reason 1 = Reason 2 = Etc. K Brown 2011 65
  • 66. Main body (cont): Paragraphs Paragraph 1. Covers the first thing your introduction said you would address, and the first sentence introduces the main idea of the paragraph. Other sentences develop the topic of the paragraph with evidence, quotations, details and references. The end of the paragraph leads to the next paragraph.  Paragraph 2. The first sentence links the paragraph to the previous paragraphs, then introduces the main idea of this paragraph other sentences develop the topic as before.  K Brown 2011 66
  • 67. 3. Conclusion  A summary of the essay, showing the conclusion of your analysis of the evidence presented. (generally about one tenth of the essay length). “Tell them what you have told them” K Brown 2011 67
  • 68. Conclusion (cont) All essays should lead to a well founded conclusion, drawing together the ideas examined in the preceding text. If the title invites the writer to express a personal opinion, this can/should be presented most fully in the conclusion.  Often the best analysis raises more questions than it answers.  K Brown 2011 68
  • 69. K Brown 2011 69
  • 70. 1. TELL THEM WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO TELL THEM. 2. 3. TELL THEM. TELL THEM WHAT YOU HAVE TOLD THEM. K Brown 2011 70
  • 71. Reports Business reports are formal documents. A report should be concise, well organised using headings, sub headings, sections, and easy to follow. Sections should be numbered:  Main section 1,2,3 etc. &  Sub-sections 1.1, 1.2 etc. Note: Essays often use headings and sub-headings, this is sometimes simply due to a preference of the tutor, always ask. K Brown 2011 71
  • 72. Report format (generic) Title page – subject of the report, author, date.  Terms of reference – who ordered the report, when and why, any conditions*.  Contents page – all section numbers and titles, using exactly the same wording as in the report.  Abstract – Brief summary of the report – task summary of conclusions and recommendations*.  Introduction – background information.  Main body – findings, description, facts, opinions, etc. this must be well structured (see previous section).  Conclusion – summary of results.  Recommendations – often in the form of a list, with some explanation.  Appendices – additional details, tables, graphs, detailed analysis. These must be numbered and cross referenced in the text*.  Glossary – explanation of any specialist terms*.  Bibliography – reference to any sources, which were used for either background reading, or directly quoted in the text*.  References – should include author, date etc. in alphabetical order.  *Not always a requirement of an academic report. K Brown 2011 72
  • 73. Reflective writing How does writing reflectively differ from other forms of writing? It is unusual to write a reflective piece in the third person (always ask your tutor) K Brown 2011 73
  • 74.  Whether you are asked to write a reflective account or a reflective journal, the key is to ask yourself a series of questions as appropriate to your circumstances: What was the task? What set of circumstances am I reviewing?  How did I approach the task? How did I prepare? How did I set about planning what I was going to do? What resources did I put in place?  How did I feel about my approach? E.g. confident, uncertain, excited, terrified...  How did I start the task? Did I need to communicate with other people? Make arrangements to go somewhere? Go into a new environment?  How did I feel about making a start? E.g. Raring to go, nervous but confident in my preparation, worried because I hadn't planned sufficiently, disinterested, this isn't my thing...  What happened during the event? Outline the key steps  How did I feel about the behaviors' of other people involved? Were they more/less helpful than I needed them to be? Receptive or disinterested?  How did I feel about the environment? Was the environment suitable for the event or did it hinder progress/mean I had to make special arrangements?  How did I feel about the resources? Did I have what I needed either due to my planning or what was provided?  Did everything go to plan? Outline what worked and what didn‟t  How did I feel during the task? E.g. I grew in confidence, it was ok, nothing terrible happened but nothing brilliant happened either, it went from bad to worse!  How did the task end? I achieved/did not achieve my aims  How did I feel when it was over? E.g. exhilarated, exhausted, relieved, disappointed...  Was it how I expected? Perhaps you discovered a gap between theory and practice?  What have I taken with me from this experience? E.g. I'm looking forward to the next time and I've got lots of ideas about doing it differently, it was ok, I managed it but it's not something that fires me, I never want to do that again, ever! K Brown 2011 74
  • 75. A dynamic model of reflection Experience Self - awareness Skills analysis Action steps What situation? What activity? When? Why? Who was there? What did I think feel do Is this usual surprising How does this fit with how I see myself? What did I do behaviour skills expectations What helped? What did not help? Would I have liked to behave differently? What skills should I develop? How can I develop them? What resources are available to me? What steps will I take to learn from or build upon what happened 75
  • 76. Reflective writing (cont) The style is usually informal, but should still be organised in such a way as your reader can follow your thoughts, reasoning and conclusions. K Brown 2011 76
  • 77. Before you start writing… K Brown 2011 77
  • 78. Plan (a suggestion) Analyse the question and the keywords. Note the main topics that you are going to cover. Divide any notes and ideas you already have into separate topics – using a separate sheet for each topic relevant to your question. These separate notes will form the separate main paragraphs of your essay once you have added to them with further research. Rearrange your notes. Look at what you have and group related information, perhaps by colour coding with a felt pen, and arrange them in a logical order. Write an outline plan using the topics you have arranged. Write your first plan before you have done any research and that will help you to be more selective and constructive in taking notes. It will focus your reading and you can adapt your plan as you go along. Organise your information. With your colour coded pile of notes divide them into paragraphs of different colours, underlining the main points. Having grouped the information in this way you can start writing your first draft. Each paragraph should have one main idea, with supporting evidence and elaboration from the same colour group of notes. In other words each paragraph should relate to one set of notes. K Brown 2011 78
  • 79. 1. Approaching the question Read the question very carefully, underlining „key words‟ Consider: What are the implications of the title? What ideas lie behind the question? What are you being invited to explore? K Brown 2011 79
  • 80. Two components of a question to look out for. 1. The subject matter. The terms, phrases, theories and/or debates you are being asked to write about. (questions often address a key issue or debate within a given area of study). 1. Instructions that tell you what to do with the subject matter K Brown 2011 80
  • 81. Commonly used terms Analyse – consider all views, and describe their inter-relationship.  Compare – examine points in question showing similarities or differences  Define – give a definition  Discuss – describe different aspects of the subject, and give a reasoned conclusion.  Evaluate – examine different sides of the question and try to reach a  K Brown 2011 81
  • 82. Important Often questions will include more than one of these terms.  Or, indeed none, however by taking the time to consider the question will reveal what you are being asked to do.  Instructions may often be „implicit‟ that is, hidden within the phrasing of the title. You must read such questions carefully to work out what to do.  K Brown 2011 82
  • 83. Example a. Explain and access Locke’s reasons for rejecting the notion of innate ideas. The subject matter is Locke‟s reasons for rejecting the notion of innate ideas. To answer this question you must know what the notion of innate ideas is and be able to identify Locke‟s reasons for rejecting it. The instructions are to explain Locke‟s reasons for rejecting the notion of innate ideas and assess Locke‟s reasons for rejecting the notion of innate ideas. a. A leading actress (Harriet Walter) has recently written “we tend to think of character’ as something psychologically coherent or consistent. Shakespeare doesn't seem to think of “characters’ like this. Do you agree? The subject matter is that we usually expect dramatic characters to be psychologically coherent and consistent and that Shakespeare thinks of them differently. The instructions this time are not so explicit. You would probably choose to explain or interpret what Harriet Walters meant when she wrote what she did and then to justify whether or not you think she was right. You may need to illustrate your case with examples. Brown 2011 K 83
  • 84. Re-write a title/question as a series of smaller questions. it is often difficult to keep the meaning of an essay title fixed in your mind.  Meaning you can easily wander from the point.  Re-write the whole question into a series of smaller questions or phrases.  K Brown 2011 84
  • 85. Examples (returning to the previous questions) What are the innate ideas?  What were Locke‟s reasons for rejecting the notion of innate ideas?  What evidence is there to justify his claim?  What alternative viewpoints are there?  Would we agree with Locke today?  K Brown 2011 85
  • 86. What does “psychologically consistent or coherent‟ mean?  Do we tend to think of characters as psychologically coherent or consistent?  Does Shakespeare tend to think of characters as psychologically coherent or consistent?  If not, how does he seem to think of them and how is this illustrated?  If so, what evidence is there to demonstrate this?  K Brown 2011 86
  • 87. Consider this question… Evaluate how the study of employment relations in Britain reveals that many social and economic outcomes in the wider society often have deep roots in the workings, management and the governance regime to which the employment relationship is subject, in doing so discussing the forms and nature of state intervention in employment relations. What are the key points of this question? What ideas lie behind the title? What are you being asked to do/explore? K Brown 2011 87
  • 88. Try breaking down one of your assignment questions. K Brown 2011 88
  • 89. Important AVOID the temptation to plunge straight into the reading list.  DEVOTE TIME to thinking what the question is really asking of you.  CONSIDER all aspects of the topic, and decide what reading will be necessary in order to answer the question, making use of the reading list and OTHER relevant material (Be careful not to over load).  NB: the task of the writer is to respond to the question asked, you will need to demonstrate your ability to select material relevant to the subject.  K Brown 2011 89
  • 90. Style Academic writing is more careful and considered than everyday writing. K Brown 2011 90
  • 91. Academic language tends to: • Use formal English. • Be precise and accurate – not chatty! • Be cautious rather than very direct or bold (use terms such as „appears to‟, „may‟, seems to‟ etc.) • Be careful and clear in establishing links between ideas, evidence and judgements. • Be concise, edit out unnecessary words: [A book called] study skills. • Take care to distinguish facts from opinions. • Be objective rather than emotional or rhetorical (avoid terms such as „nice‟, „natural‟, „wonderful‟. • Avoid sweeping claims or statements. • Avoid personal pronouns such as „I‟/‟we‟ and „you‟. Instead use „it can be seen that‟, „there are a number of‟ etc. K Brown 2011 91
  • 92. Always [unless otherwise instructed] write in the third person I think parliament should reconsider its recent vote on maternity leave. Parliament should reconsider its recent vote on maternity leave. K Brown 2011 92
  • 93. Re-phrase the following statements into „third person‟ In my opinion trade unions in the UK have no future. I asked the interviewee a series of questions in order to gain an insight into their perceptions of engagement. You should read Mullins, which will give you a general insight into motivation theories. K Brown 2011 93
  • 94. Finally: Always proof read your work, prior submission bearing in mind the points covered. Use a checklist to ensure your piece is ready to hand in. K Brown 2011 94
  • 95. Sample checklist Hand-out K Brown 2011 95
  • 96. Outcomes  To demonstrate the difference between different forms of assessment?  To explain the meaning of terms used in assessment questions?  To introduce ways of approaching assessment, and reading questions? K Brown 2011 96
  • 97. Study skills Section 3: finding and using information K Brown 2011 97
  • 98. Objectives Introduce the importance of criticality.  Illustrate approaches to finding relevant material in order to inform an academic argument.  Explain the differences between „reliable‟ and „unreliable‟ sources.  K Brown 2011 98
  • 99. Where do I look? K Brown 2011 99
  • 100. Where to start Reading list  Own thoughts  Internet  MLE  K Brown 2011 100
  • 101. The ability to search for relevant information is clearly of great benefit to your academic studies. It is also a highly transferable skill that you will use in the work situation. K Brown 2011 101
  • 102. Comments (from P/T 1 st year management students) “Information search skills are important – I've been investigating the sort of staff our customers feel give them great service, and what the key drivers of customer service are” (Kate, customer service leader). “I depend on good information gathering skills for carrying out audits on deaths of children and mothers during childbirth” (Zena, Head of administration: NHS maternity department). “my research skills have improved [as a result of the course]. An example of this in action is when I looked for different models of training courses, seeing if they would fit in our organisation” Cited in: Gallagher (2010). (Amanda, Learning resources manager) K Brown 2011 102
  • 103. Where to look  Newspapers. Text books. Websites (proceed with caution) Journals & research papers. Trade and professional publications. The MLE „Google scholar‟?  Look at the sources other writers use.       K Brown 2011 103
  • 104. Reliability of sources. Who wrote it?  When?  Who published it?  As a general rule if you are unsure don‟t use it. K Brown 2011 104
  • 105. A note on websites. Avoid referencing Wikipedia.  Avoid free essay sites, and blogs.  Think, who wrote them?  Pay attention to domain types:  .com = commercial  .org = organisation  .gov = government  .edu = education  .net = network  The domain type can indicate a possible bias towards the information. For example a .org site on „animal rights‟ is potentially slanted towards one Side of the issue. K Brown 2011 105
  • 106. 1. Use Google Scholar to give you a better overview of what is available. 2. Armed with the journal title, article, volume, issue and page number go to the MLE. 3. Search for the specific journal. K Brown 2011 106
  • 107. Scanning the literature  At first it looks as if you will never be able to find the information you will need.  Very soon you find you have to much.  You will need to adopt a strategy that takes account of the important literature and ignores the irrelevant. K Brown 2011 107
  • 108. A phased approach Preparation phase Textbook 1 Chapter related to topic Theory selection phase Main theory 1 Critique phase • • Main theory 2 Textbook 3 Chapter related to topic The question Textbook 2 Chapter related to topic Main theory 3 • • Evaluation phase Critical journal article. Empirical journal article. Metaliterature review Metadata review. Measure the material and data against current thinking etc. Synthesis phase Main theory synthesized from the critique and evaluation of 3-5 main theories, 56 empirical studies, 710 critical journal articles and other sources Adapted from: Horn (2009). Researching and writing dissertations: a complete guide for business and management students K Brown 2011 108
  • 109. Definitions  Empirical –  Meta - Metadata describes how and when The word empirical denotes information gained by means of observation or experimentation. Empirical data is data produced by an experiment or observation. Provable or verifiable by experience or experiment. and by whom a particular set of data was collected, and how the data is formatted i.e. ONS surveys which inform a discussion etc. K Brown 2011 109
  • 110. Learn to skim books.  Books are thorough and long, often having taken years to write. Whereas webpages may have taken a day.  Skim the table of contents for a relevant chapter.  Read the introduction and/or the first few pages of the chapter to see if the information is really what you are looking for. K Brown 2011 110
  • 111. Always remember… Think critically. K Brown 2011 111
  • 112. How can I achieve a good – or a better – assignment grade? Critical reading and writing approach Using effective information search techniques Effective application to the assignment Source: Gallagher (2010). Criticality forms the bedrock of academic literature, and the creation of new knowledge. K Brown 2011 112
  • 113. „Critical?‟ What does critical actually mean? “…it entails a variety of factors that, together, are the basis for an approach…” (Gallagher, 2010: 176) K Brown 2011 113
  • 114.            Never take things at their face value – you always question. Ask: Who? What? Why? Where? When? How? Seek other views for comparison; Look for trends or patterns; Consider not only what happens but what does not happen; Seek to measure or analyze those aspects that are relevant; Carefully interpret your findings; Always give evidence to support key statements; Construct lines of reasoning (arguments) based upon evidence; Consider the validity and accuracy of your research methods; Ask if you are asking the „right‟ questions in the first K Brown 2011 114
  • 115. How to critique an article or theory. 1. Read the whole book, article or chapter etc. Make sure to understand the piece K Brown 2011 115
  • 116. 2. Think carefully about what you have read and ask yourself questions about the material. You should try to establish: The main points that the author is trying to make.  How does the author back these points up? In other words what evidence is provided?  K Brown 2011 116
  • 117. 3. Re-read the material: Make sure you have understood the authors ideas K Brown 2011 117
  • 118. 4. Try to summarise what you have read: You may wish to do this by way of  Bullet pointed lists  A spider diagram  Mind-map etc. K Brown 2011 118
  • 119. 5. Think about different points of view: How do this authors ideas compare to other writers on the subject?  Do you agree or disagree with the author? You should say why, whilst backing up statements with academic opinions. You will need to read around the subject area.  K Brown 2011 119
  • 120. Identify the argument Claim = Reason 1 = Reason 2 = Reason 3 = Once you have the argument mapped out, assess the reasoning. K Brown 2011 120
  • 121. Ask yourself the following questions: 1. Is there an alternative explanation that is possible? A different reason for the claim, probing alternatives is an excellent way to open up weaknesses in an authors logic. Example: „John was late because he obviously doesn‟t care about the class‟ An alternative explanation for johns lateness could be that he got in a car wreck, and therefore couldn't‟t make it to class on time, not that he doesn‟t care. K Brown 2011 121
  • 122. 2. Is the evidence presented sufficient? Evidence refers to the support given for the claim. This support may be in the form of facts, statistics, authoritative quotations etc. Example: "John was late because he has Alzheimer's disease, and according to the American Medical Association, Alzheimer's patients frequently forgot who and where they are" (Jones 65). (The writer has given evidence in the form of research for his or her reasoning.) K Brown 2011 122
  • 123. 3. What assumptions do the reasons rest on? An assumption is what one takes for granted to be true, but which actually may not be true. All arguments rest on some common assumptions. This common ground makes it possible for two people to have a dialogue in the first place, but these assumptions, because they are based on groundless ideas, make for a "sweet spot" of attack in argument. Example: "John was late because his previous class is on the far side of campus." (The assumption is that it takes a long time to get from the far side of campus to class. If John walked the same speed as the one presenting the argument, the assumption would be a shared one. However, it may be the case that John actually walks much faster than assumed, and that he was late for another reason.) K Brown 2011 123
  • 124. 4. Does the writer commit any logical fallacies? Fallacies are commonly committed errors of reasoning. Being aware of these fallacies will help you see them more abundantly in the texts you read. Although there are probably at least a hundred different fallacies, the following six are the most common: K Brown 2011 124
  • 125. Hasty generalisation;  Faulty cause and effect;  Fallacy of authority;  Slippery slope;  Non-sequitar, &  Either/Or.  K Brown 2011 125
  • 126. Hasty generalisation Generalising from a sample that is too small.  Example: John was late to my physics class all last semester. Therefore John is just an unpunctual, late person. (Actually, last semester John may have had difficulty getting to physics, but no trouble getting to his other classes.)  Example: I conclude from the several pleasant, hard-working AUC students I met this morning that all AUC students are pleasant, hard-working students. (Actually, you may have just met the only three nice students on campus.) K Brown 2011 126
  • 127. Faulty cause and effect.  Attributing the wrong cause to the effect.  Example: John was late to class because he went to the dentist yesterday and had a root canal. (Actually, John may be late for another reason.)  Example: The horses are acting strange because there's a deep storm brewing. (Actually, the horses may be acting strange because they're hungry.) K Brown 2011 127
  • 128. Fallacy of authority Accepting for truth what is claimed simply because someone said so.  Example: John was late to class because his the school psychologist said John was having bouts of depression and may not attend class. (Actually, what the psychologist said may be wrong. Maybe John even lied to her.)  Example: John Grisham, an expert in law, says law is a tedious yet exciting practice. So it must be the case that law is a tedious, exciting practice. (Actually, what Grisham says may not be true. He hasn't supplied any reasoning for his assertion, and he's a popular fiction writer rather than a lawyer.) K Brown 2011 128
  • 129. Slippery slope  Exaggerating the consequences.  Example: If John is late to class, he'll miss the material and do poorly on the test. When his father sees his bad grades, John will be whipped and then he'll run away and join the circus. (Actually, John may do fine on the test even though he missed class.)  Example: Students who arrive late to class will receive low grades, which will then prevent them from declaring their majors. If students can't declare the majors they want, they'll lead miserable lives fulfilling careers they hate until they finally commit suicide. (Actually, even if students receive a low grade, it doesn't mean they won't be able to bring up their other grades in other classes and still declare the majors they want.) K Brown 2011 129
  • 130. Non sequitar  The conclusion/claim doesn‟t follow from the reasons.  Example: I saw John talking to a pretty girl this morning. Therefore, he is late to class because he's probably eating lunch with her. (It doesn't follow that talking to a pretty girl would lead to a truant luncheon.)  Example: Some cars drive recklessly along the roads where pedestrians walk, endangering them. Therefore, we should ban pedestrians from walking down some roads. (It doesn't follow that you should punish the pedestrians instead of the cars.) K Brown 2011 130
  • 131. Either/Or  Narrowing the options to just two extremes when in actuality more options exist.  Example: I saw John talking to a pretty girl this morning. Therefore, he is late to class because he's probably eating lunch with her. (It doesn't follow that talking to a pretty girl would lead to a truant luncheon.)  Example: Some cars drive recklessly along the roads where pedestrians walk, endangering them. Therefore, we should ban pedestrians from walking down some roads. (It doesn't follow that you should punish the pedestrians instead of the cars.) K Brown 2011 131
  • 132. Have a go…  Practice with fallacies.  Practice with reasoning. K Brown 2011 132
  • 133. Fallacies Each of the passages, on the hand-out contain fallacious reasoning, identify which fallacy is committed K Brown 2011 133
  • 134. Fallacy answers 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Hasty generalisation Non-sequitar Faulty cause and effect Emotional appeal Fallacy of authority Slippery slope Either/Or K Brown 2011 134
  • 135. Study skills Building an argument (continued)
  • 136. Introduction If logic and reasoning are the tools, a proper concise argument is the product. This series of slides will attempt to inform you of the basis of a proper argument.
  • 137. What is an argument? Presenting effective arguments is at the heart of good essay writing – in almost every essay you should aim to make an overall point in response to some issue or debate.  That doesn‟t mean you have to argue for something you don‟t believe in.  Strive for accuracy and make claims, however small, that you can justify as a result of your research/paper. 
  • 138. Reading the opposing argument Read the literature and start thinking critically about what you are reading:  Do you agree?  Why?  Do you disagree?  Why?  When you are reading [an argument] look for points which you think you can refute.  Most importantly try to figure out his/her central point (what the piece is trying to convey).  This is extremely important in constructing an argument as this helps you refute the core of the piece rather than limiting your self to refuting certain points of it. 
  • 139. Thinking It starts with the question:  „Are you able to argue against the central point or refute certain points of the argument?‟  Asking do you want to/able to go against the papers argument, or do you completely agree/concede with the paper?  If the answer is no - but you still want/need to write an argument, you can write several supporting points that other papers have missed, or you state your own thesis on the subject at hand [reinforcing this with relevant academic material].  If the answer is yes – then move to the next step in the thinking process.
  • 140. Evidence/support     This is critical in an argument. If you don‟t have it, your argument has no basis [it is merely an opinion]. Good evidence if often objective in nature. Objective means that statements can be verified and tested to see its merits. For example – we know that gravity exists because if we drop an object it will fall. Often a good argument will consist of several pieces of evidence.
  • 141. Organise your thoughts Once you have your opinion, and your evidence its time to organise your thoughts.  It can be useful to put these ideas into a table which categorises your thoughts and research 
  • 142. For Topic How alike? How different? In what regard? Against
  • 143. A good argument not only considers the points to refute, but also points that may be made to refute your own argument (counter arguments)
  • 144. Consider the following Identify your core concern – what is the essence of your argument – its major points?  Investigate other thinkers and researchers in the area. What possible answers might you arrive at?  Sequence your work – whatever suits you (bullet points, spider diagram, pictures etc.)  Summarise your arguments briefly – possible using no more than a single line. You may be able to use this as a thesis statement later. 
  • 145. The central parts of an argument 1. 2. Premise – a proposition which gives reasons, grounds, or evidence for accepting some other proposition, called the conclusion. Conclusion – a proposition, which is purported to be established on the basis of other propositions
  • 146. Question  If a tree falls in a forest, but no body is around to hear it does it make a sound? Proposition 1 – No it makes not sound. Proposition 2 – Yes it will make a sound. Reasons, Grounds and Evidence?
  • 147. Another model Claim The tree makes no sound Reason Reason Reason Facts,facts, facts,facts,f acts,facts,f acts,facts,f acts,facts,f acts,facts,f acts,facts,f acts Facts,facts, facts,facts,f acts,facts,f acts,facts,f acts,facts,f acts,facts,f acts,facts,f acts Facts,facts, facts,facts,f acts,facts,f acts,facts,f acts,facts,f acts,facts,f acts,facts,f acts Counter argument Counter argument Counter argument
  • 148. Structure The following points are a useful guide to writing up your argument in a clear and structured way:
  • 149. First  State your argument clearly and early on in your work. What are you setting out to prove? This will tell your reader where you are heading with your argument and will immediately grab their interest. This is a thesis statement.
  • 150. Then  Set out the structure of your work, demonstrating concisely how your work will be structured.
  • 151. Next  Give the background to your work and set out any relevant definitions – do NOT assume that your reader will be familiar with them (remember the aim is to demonstrate your knowledge and research skills).
  • 152. Finally  Fully detail any theoretical underpinnings and why you have used them (e.g. writing from a feminist/utilitarian/sociological perspective) this will depend on the purpose of the paper and the subject matter.
  • 153. Example This essay discusses issues of discrimination relating to adults with disabilities in Wales, and will draw upon the legislative and cultural, to examine this topic. Although there are many and varied manifestations of disability, this assignment will primarily focus on persons with physical impairments. Reference will be made to the multifarious nature of discrimination and the meaning of power, discrimination and oppression, from the perspective of service users, will also be comprehensively addressed. The essay begins with a comprehensive definition of discrimination and describes how the term need not always, according to Thompson, (2006) be negative.
  • 154. Remember! Back up your argument throughout your essay with relevant data, examples and academic work in order to provide a balanced, well rounded and informed discussion that looks at your topic from varied angles.
  • 155. For your conclusion, return to your original argument and place it firmly into its final context, stating your conclusions boldly.
  • 156. Example In conclusion then, it is clear that in Wales, the Welsh Assembly Government is fully engaged with issues relating to equality and diversity. It actively seeks to encourage organisations to promote anti discriminatory practice in accordance with its Code of Practice (2002) through the provision of appropriate and sensitive services that are needs-led, rather than resource driven. The legislation formulated to counter discrimination helps to ensure that those in our society who are disadvantaged, whether that be through physical or mental disability, are provided with opportunities to achieve their goals and ambitions. We have also seen that whilst power is a complex issue it can be seen as a creative as well as a controlling force and can serve to maintain equity between professionals and those with disabilities. Clearly then, difference is something to be valued positively and the unique nature of individuals and groups with physical disabilities should always be accepted and respected. (Social Care Institute of Excellence, 2006) (Extracts adapted from an essay by anonymous student, 2008)
  • 157. Developing your arguments How to present an argument in an essay
  • 158. 1. Stating your point of view early in the essay and presenting a clear rationale to support it. Your point of view should be a consistent one throughout the essay. 2. Offering reliable evidence or examples to support your argument. Reliable evidence is evidence that you have read in reputable and authoritative texts, articles, newspapers, Internet sites etc. 3. Showing where this evidence has come from: by citing your sources and listing all your sources in the reference or bibliography section at the end of the essay. 4. Showing that you are aware of, and have considered arguments that are counter to your own. You will need to summarise counter arguments in a clear, accurate and undistorted way in your essay 5. Being able to show why you have decided that the arguments that you have chosen to advance are more convincing for you than others.
  • 159. More to follow…. K Brown 2011 159