1.1 Analysis, interpretation and evaluation

When you study a painting, for example, you take it apart to see how it ‘works’ as a painting. You analyse it ‘as it is in itself’, because this gives you many clues to what it might mean. But that analysis is complicated by the fact that the way we understand a painting itself changes over time. For instance, what a religious painting might have meant to the artist and his contemporaries in sixteenth-century Italy cannot be the same as it means to us now. We do n
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2 Relationships

In reality, a message like the one just referred to above is just one of many which forms part of the ongoing relationships we have with the people we work with. How we get on with each other can have a huge impact on the interpretation of a given message, and the subsequent effects that might have on their motivation or morale.

The next idea we will introduce is a framework for assessing how relationships are established and evolve, based on the states of mind of those involved
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1 Communication

The basis of good communication seems very simple, it is speaking or writing clearly such that any message you (the sender) intend to send to someone else (the receiver) is exactly the one which they receive. This means that as well as the detailed content of the message, we have to give some thought to the language we use e.g. ask ourselves if the receiving person might misunderstand any words or phrases we use. We must also be aware of the way we deliver the message –
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9.8 Drawing ideas together

This key skill has used a three-stage framework for developing your skills. By developing a strategy, monitoring your progress and evaluating your overall approach, you take an active role in your own learning. But learning does not necessarily follow a path of steady improvement, it involves change: revisiting ideas, seeing things from different perspectives, tackling things in different ways.

You are unlikely to be able to complete your work by working through it from beginning to end
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9.7.2 Assess the effectiveness of your strategy

When you come to make a final assessment of the effectiveness of your strategy, you need to consider aspects such as how progress was made, the quality of the work, the working relationships of the group members, and how difficulties and problems were addressed. If you have been able to maintain good records from meetings, progress reports, and your own reflective comments, you should be able to look back and be objective about the work and strategy that the group developed. Use the goals you
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9.4 Activity: Developing your strategy for using skills in working with others

Develop a strategy for using skills in working with others over a period of time. Your strategy should include:

  • an identification of the opportunities you can use to practise your skills in working with
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9.3.4 Plan work with others for achieving the quality outcomes required

If you are doing this to complete a project as part of your study, check if the work is going to be assessed, and make sure you know how marks will be allocated and what criteria will be used. Take time to read carefully any instructions you have been given on group work for the activity – ask your tutor for advice if you are unsure about anything, particularly if this is the first time you have been set a group task. Check whether you will be assessed as a group or as individuals. Will the
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9.3.2 Identify what you hope to achieve

It is a good idea to know not only what you are trying to achieve, but also when you have achieved it, so it is important that your goals are clear and that you can easily measure your progress against them. Setting realistic targets, planning actions and modifying those plans in the light of experience are all part of developing this key skill, but this time they need to be done and negotiated within the group.

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9.3.1 Establish opportunities for using skills in working with others

You need to identify activities that will provide you with opportunities for working with others over a period of 3 months or so. This could involve both one-to-one and group situations, such as working on a particular project at work, a group project as part of your course or e-conferencing on a group assignment.

Time out


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8.7 Evaluating strategy and presenting outcomes

This stage of the framework focuses on identifying what you have achieved and how well you have achieved it. It involves you in evaluating your strategy and presenting the outcomes of your work. As you evaluate and assess your strategy, identify aspects of your problem-solving skills that you want to develop further. At the end of this stage, use the records in your Skills File to complete the activity ‘Evaluating your problem-solving strategy and presenting outcomes’ and pull together th
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8.5.1 Generate a variety of ways of tackling problems

Where the best way, or, indeed, any way, of tackling a problem is not obvious, there are a number of tools and techniques which can be useful to stimulate ideas and different ways of thinking:

  • reasoning: reaching conclusions or deciding on paths of action by means-end analysis or critical-path analysis;

  • matching: recognising similarities with other situations, drawing analogies, adapting solutions that have worked or s
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8.5 Monitoring progress

This stage is about keeping track of your progress. Are you tackling your problem-solving activities effectively? How do you know? Could you have done things differently, made use of different tools (such as software packages) or facilities, taken more advantage of tutorials, training sessions or local expertise, or recognised that such support would have helped you?

Monitoring your own performance and progress needs practice; try to stand back and look at what you are doing as if you w
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8.4.1 Plan your use of problem-solving skills and select methods

Exploring and planning an activity often results in different options, possibilities and ways forward. Some approaches will be more feasible or will interest you more than others. At this stage you need to think about how you will be using your problem-solving skills and how you will assess the overall quality of your work. To help you make these decisions, you may find tools such as concept maps or critical-path analysis helpful in representing the different parts of the problem-solving acti
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8.3.1 Identify opportunities for using problem-solving skills

Where and how will you use problem-solving skills over the next 3–4 months? What opportunities do you have to develop your skills? For example, you may be working on a course project with a defined goal but the best route to that goal is not clear; you might be involved in contributing to the design of a system, improving its performance or investigating the feasibility of ideas; you may be involved in resolving resource or staffing difficulties, or in planning a major event.

Problems
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8.3 Developing a strategy

In developing a strategy for improving your problem-solving skills you are aiming to:

  • identify the opportunities you can use to develop and practise your problem-solving skills;

  • establish the outcomes you hope to achieve and targets for achieving them;

  • identify the resources you might use for developing your skills, including people who might be able to help you as well as sources of data, books, study guides, tutoria
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8.2 Working on improving your problem-solving skills

The three-stage framework for developing and improving your skills provides the basis for you to become more confident in:

  • developing a strategy for using a variety of problem-solving techniques and tools, including being clear about what you want to achieve, identifying relevant sources of information that will help you to achieve your goals, and planning how you intend to improve your skills;

  • monitoring your progress and critically
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7.7 Drawing ideas together

This key skill has used a three-stage framework for developing your skills. By developing a strategy, monitoring your progress and evaluating your overall approach, you take an active role in your own learning. But learning does not necessarily follow a path of steady improvement, it involves change: revisiting ideas, seeing things from different perspectives, tackling things in different ways.

You are unlikely to be able to complete your work by working through it from beginning to end
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7.6.5 Identify ways of further developing your number skills

Think about your overall number skills and suggest areas where you feel you need to improve, based on the experience you have gained. You might find it useful to discuss with a tutor, manager, another student or work colleague how you might do this. There may be changes you feel you need to make so that you can move forward, such as trying to extend the facilities and resources available to you, changing the way you study to make best use of the time you have, or focusing on improving your ow
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7.6.2 Present information effectively

Organise your data so that you can use it to illustrate and support your arguments or point of view. To do this successfully you must be clear about what you want to say, who is your intended audience, and what points you want your audience to understand. Think about the most appropriate way to present your findings, and whether particular types of charts, graphs or diagrams will bring out the relationships you want to demonstrate. Choosing graph axes carefully (for example using non-linear s
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