5.2.2 Continuous variables

Not all numbers are discrete. Consider the following measurements:

  • times to run a marathon

  • temperatures recorded at intervals during a day

  • weight of each bunch of grapes sold at a supermarket yesterday.

Time, temperature and weight are all examples of numerical data, but there is not a restricted set of values that they can take. Whereas you can have 2 or 3 children in a family but not 2.5, with tempe
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

5.2.1 Discrete variables

The charts about different modes of transport and that on attendance figures at a range of cultural events all use what might be called ‘word categories’. Each category (e.g. bus, rail, cycle, and walk) is quite distinct from any other in the set of categories. Such distinct categories are known in mathematics as ‘discrete variables’.

Word categories are not the only type of variable that is discrete; numbers can also be discrete. For example, at the beginning of this section, w
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

4.9 When there's too much to do

This can be a real problem in large conferences. If, for whatever reason, you join a conference later than the other participants, or are unable to be involved for a while, the prospect of joining in can be a bit daunting. There will be lots of messages you haven't read and you may feel that everyone else knows each other.

The main thing to remember is that everyone will be pleased to ‘see’ you when you do join in, and will be helpful and supportive. Here are some strategies you can
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

3.3 Real time chat

Online chat is a means of having a quick written conversation with one or more people who are online at the same time. Compared with email, there's less of a time lag in waiting for a response. Messages are likely to be more spontaneous, and it can be anarchic when several people reply at once.


Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

2.4 See what you can do on the web

The web is immense, made up of information held on computers across the world. You can find out things about any subject or topic you care to name, however obscure it might be.

The section entitled Searching later in this unit provides advice and tips on searching the web and finding what you want.


Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

2.3 Learning more

Consider your main use for the PC, and check that you have the skills or knowledge you need. Although some students use spreadsheets and databases, the key skills for most students are:

  • word processing study notes and assignments;

  • searching for information on the web;

  • using conferencing and email.

If you feel you need to know more about using your computer there are a number of options open to you.
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

1.1 Ways in which computers can help you to study

Courses use computers for a variety of different reasons. These are a few examples.

  • To let you explore ideas and concepts in more depth, such as by using a multimedia CD-ROM or DVD with interactive exercises.

  • To help you communicate with others on your course. Online conferences offer a way to contact other students and staff for information, discussion and mutual support.

  • To allow you to analyse data, see pictures or
    Author(s): The Open University

    License information
    Related content

    Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

4 Where do you go from here?

This unit has given you a good many tips about what is useful and what things to avoid. These tips are just the beginning of the practical ‘know-how’ you'll develop once you've begun your MST study. Some of the skills you'll learn will be specific to the particular subjects you're studying – biologists have different diagrammatic ‘tools of the trade’ from mathematicians, computer enthusiasts and physicists. Other, more general skills will be central to actually studying and to refle
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

5.1.4 History

There is no general dictionary or companion to the study of history as such. However, there are period and subject-specific companions and indexes, such as:

Jones, C. (1990) The Longman Companion to the French Revolution, London, Longman.

Consult those appropriate to your course.


Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

3.7.1 Technical considerations

Handwriting

Nowadays most people use a word processing package to write essays while some people may use a typewriter. However, if you don't have access to either of these you will need to hand-write your essay. Should this be the case, the ease of reading depends on the quality of your handwriting . It is only fair to your tutor to try to make your writing as legible as possible. This will take time and care. But when you have spent a long time putting an essay togeth
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

2.6.2 Hansa's essay

Hansa's essay would get a higher grade than Philip's. But, like his, it has both strong and weak points.

Strengths

  • subtle understanding of Ellis's argument

  • excellent focus on the question in the title

  • generally sound structure

  • some very fluent writing in places

  • plenty of attack in the opening – pacey first paragraph

  • good sense of how to draw a conclus
    Author(s): The Open University

    License information
    Related content

    Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

2.5.6 Essay presentation

Both Philip and Hansa presented their essays neatly, with no crossings out or obvious slips of the pen or type. And they make very few spelling mistakes. Philip puts ‘wifes’ for wives, ‘citys’ for cities and ‘carreer’ for career, and Hansa ‘sparcity’ for sparsity.

Spelling

People of
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

2.5.5 Writing style

As we have seen, Hansa tends to use whole clusters of words and constructions that are a bit over-formal rather than wrong. She seems to be trying to impress her reader. For example:

They therefore fled from the country in order to escape the restrictions and consequent boredom placed upon them by the very limited pastimes that a high ranking women in the eighteenth century was permitted to indulge.


Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

2.5.2 Punctuation

Some of the sentences we have looked at are harder to understand than they might be because they are not very well punctuated. Punctuation marks are the ‘stops’ in a sentence that divide it up into parts. They make it easier to follow the meaning of the words. For instance, it is easier to read this sentence of Philip's if we put a comma after ‘wealthy’:

With society becoming more wealthy, it was possible for t
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

2.5.1 Sentences

We can see that Philip knows what a sentence is because he writes some perfectly good ones. For example:

In many ways going into urban life from the countryside was beneficial to woman of the upperclass.

This sentence begins with a capital letter and ends with a full stop. It has a subject (urban life) and a main verb (was). As any sentence is, it is a self-contained ‘unit of meaning’. It m
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

2.5 Other aspects of writing

Now we will look at the way Philip and Hansa wrote and presented their essays. Did you find them both easy to read? As regards Philip's, my answer is, ‘yes and no’. It is sometimes easy because he has a fluent way with words. But it is often difficult because he does not use enough punctuation to help us make sense of his words, and because of certain mistakes he makes. I found Hansa's essay easier to read. Her writing is more technically correct and more assured than Philip's. But
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

References

Ashworth, P. (2003) ‘An approach to phenomenological psychology: the contingencies of the lifeworld’, Journal of Phenomenological Psychology, vol. 34, no. 2, pp. 145–56.
Bordo, S. (1993) Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture and the Body, Berkeley, CA, University of California Press.
Burkitt, I. (1999) Bodies of Thought: Embodiment, Identity and
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

3.2 Consciousness of the body

Phenomenological theorists distinguish between the subjective body (as lived and experienced) and the objective body (as observed and scientifically investigated). These are not two different bodies as such (phenomenologists pride themselves on overcoming dualisms!); rather they are different facets of our experience and consciousness.

The body-subject, or subjective body, is the body-as-it-is-lived. I do not simply possess a body; I am my body (Merleau-Ponty, 1962
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

4.3 Attending across modalities

The preceding section raised the issue of attention operating (and to some extent failing) across two sensory modalities. By focusing on distraction we ignored the fact that sight and sound (and other senses) often convey mutually supporting information. A classic example is lip-reading. Although few of us would claim any lip-reading skills, it turns out that, particularly in noisy surroundings, we supplement our hearing considerably by watching lip movements. If attention is concerned with u
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

1.7.1 Differentiating dyslexia from other reading difficulties

The idea that dyslexia is distinctive from other forms of reading difficulty is still debated. One viewpoint is that reading ability is a simple continuum, with exceptionally gifted readers at one end and people with dyslexia at the other. However, as we have already seen, dyslexia involves more than just difficulties in reading and writing. Reading difficulties must be specific and accompanied by a variable profile of cognitive abilities. It is the presence of other characteristics unrelated
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share