Friday, 24 January 2014

Successful Study Cycle.

1. Read the module guide at the start of semester - read it carefully.

2. Set up a document and paste in the key requirements, including learning outcomes and the assessment criteria level indicators that you aspire to meet. Make them red or another colour that you will not forget to delete later.  

3. Plan your study schedule, aim to make steady progress every week. Add a timeline to your working document by tagging dates against key milestones, this will help you plan your study and keep an eye on your time-management. Map your progress so you can't deceive yourself about how much you have achieved and what you should be doing.

4.  Use the document as a learning journal; record notes as you read literature or carry out practical activities and develop your draft narratives for each learning activity on it.  Use it to construct your assignment as semester progresses. 

5. Depending on module delivery mode: attend all teaching sessions and/or participate in the online discussion forums on a regular basis. Share uncertainty, share revelations, support your peers.

6. Make use of your opportunity to ask tutors to provide formative feedback on up to 20% of your draft work during semester.

7. Read the module reading list, read well beyond it looking for seminal and contemporary sources to extend your knowledge base and provide more opportunity to compare and contrast the views of a range of authors. Follow the right people in Twitter so you get news of cutting edge publications.

8. Make use of online or on-campus tutorials and generic study support material.

9. Complete the assignment a week before submission.

10. Go do something fun for at least a weekend  -  forget about the assignment. 

11. Re-read the assignment with fresh objective eyes, check alignment with the red bits and refine what should already be good work.

12. Remove the red bits and carry out a meticulous word by word proof read before submission and check you have met university regulations, in particular word count, Harvard referencing and submission procedures.

13. Submit the work well before the deadline confident that you have done all you can to use constructive alignment and formative feedback to give you a high chance of success. If you are using Turnitin you must be very careful to submit the correct file as you only get one chance to upload. It is not unusual for students to create versions of an assessment product as it evolves. A label such as:  SID_module code_Final.docx is fairly difficult to miss when you are working out which file to upload. You should only label a file as 'Final' or give it a colour tag such as green for go in the hour or so before you intend to upload it. if you make a final draft in week 10 chances are there will be a fair few more 'final' versions before hand in and that is where versioning errors can occur.

14. Relax as much as possible until feedback day.

15. Don't just look at your mark, tutors put a lot of effort into providing useful feedback - read it and use it to feed-forward into your approach to the next module. if your scripts have been annotated you should look at those as the annotations will show you exactly where improvements could be made. Ask tutors for clarification if needed.

Repeat the cycle over the duration of your course. 

Be proud of who you have become and enjoy graduation, smile for the photos.

Move on to the career you deserve.

For BA LTR students the file upload conventions are explained below:

Combine all files that are of the same type unless it is specified that you should submit files separately. 

Make sure you include stand alone versions of media files such as PowerPoint, video, audio, this will enable us to assess them should embedding of the media in other files not work.

Include text transcripts of any video or audio in the appendix.

Put all of the files for each module in a separate folder labelled as Misspelled WordSID_module code. 

 01234567_MOD001234 Double check you got the right files in the right folder.

Compress or zip the folder. 

Upload to your assessment portfolio folder well before the deadline. 

Remember technical problems are usually not accepted as good grounds for mitigation against late submission

Some thoughts on study time:

The time students are expected to spend on study is set out in each module definition form. 

Espoused theory check; what level of weekly study do you aim to achieve or think you achieve?
Theory in use check; what is the reality - record your study time for a week.

Is there a mismatch? Does action need to be taken to ensure better alignment? 

Analysis of governing variables:
1. Personal beliefs - you may believe you can compress study time or that you will benefit from spending more time studying than is specified for a module. The reality is that significant variance can lead to lower attainment due to not spending enough time studying or to higher levels of stress for self and/or family due to spending too many hours studying. Reflecting on this should lead to an understanding of the impact of variance and you alone can take those risks into consideration and choose to vary or not to vary whether you meet this time allocation.

2. Norms of behaviour - You might compare your approach to that employed by your peers. Again there should be consideration of the potential impact of varying from the stated expectation. 

3. Values of the organisation - The university set the study hours, they are intended to ensure students on all modules have a parity of study effort relating to the number of credits studied no matter what course they are on. They are set at a level that is seen as providing a good quality to time invested ratio, they also ensure that sufficient time is allocated to achieve the required standards in assessment products. They aim not to over-work or over-stress students. 

In a perfect world how would I like to solve this problem? - An 8 day week would be cool! Gaining a good degree is a potential life changing achievement; achieving the intended study hours is clearly important. Negotiating study time at work and negotiating with family could help solve the problem.

In my real world how will I solve this problem? The use of an ILP is the recommended approach to solving this problem, staff have spent many years developing and testing this approach and surveys of students have shown that most high achieving students do create a detailed learning plan and adapt it regularly as they progress through a module.  I will make sure that I take care to plan when I can fit study in with work and life commitments and monitor / reschedule as necessary to ensure I do meet the required study hours.