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2.3 Coping with difficult parts

Salim and Lewis mentioned that they found some sections of Layard's article difficult. So did I; for example, anyone without a background in economics would have difficulty grasping the arguments in paragraphs 13 and 14.

So what should you do when you can't make sense of what you read? Should you search online to find out about taxation theory? For my own satisfaction I searched for a definition of ‘marginal rate of taxation’ just to get the gist of it. I also tried to write down th
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2.2 The ‘academic’ style

You might also be put off by the ‘academic’ style of writing. In everyday life, what you read is usually written to grab your attention and get a message across quickly before you ‘switch channels’. By contrast, academic texts often raise broad, abstract questions and are unconcerned about arriving at quick answers. For example, where a newspaper headline might say:

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2.1.1 Should you stop reading to look words up?

It depends. Looking up words slows you down, and you may be able to make reasonable sense of their context without having to. For example, I found it fairly easy to guess the meaning of ‘habituation’ in paragraph 8, from the way it was discussed. However, I looked it up on the internet anyway, as I happened to have my computer on. I also looked up ‘real income’ and ‘marginal tax’ and found useful clarification of their meanings.

You have to decide how important a word seems
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10.1 Further reading

There are many relevant books available from libraries and bookshops. Here are some suggestions to start you off.

  • de Bono's Thinking Course by Edward de Bono, published by BBC Books, 1999

    An interesting general consideration of thinking skills with tools and techniques for developing thinking in a general way.

  • Use Your Head by Tony Buzan, published by BBC Books, 1995

    Lots of useful information on how to mak
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7.2 Other ways of structuring thought

Distinguishing between generals and particulars can help you in reading, note taking and writing for your course. But, looking at things in a hierarchical general-particular way is only one approach to giving structure to ideas and information.

Activity 14

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3.2.2 What problems might you have with getting feedback?

Only you can answer this. However, you might think that you will not find it easy to ask someone else to be a mentor and give you feedback about your own qualities, knowledge or skills. There may be all sorts of reasons for this. You might not feel that you know anyone that you would trust to give you feedback in a way in which you would find helpful. Acting as a feedback giver can put someone in such a powerful position that you might feel uncomfortable. You might feel that you do not know a
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1.2.1 Your learning style

Imagine you are going to learn a new task. It could be laying a laminate floor, following a new recipe or learning to use a new TV remote control. How do you approach the task?

  • Approach 1 Do you sit down with the instructions and read them through before trying?

  • Approach 2 Do you get stuck in to the task straight away? Do you ask others for help and then move on to a new task as soon as this one is complete?

  • <
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1.1.7 Comfortable and safe for one, but not for all?

There may be many users of a single computer in your house, and each person is a different shape and size. This means that a single layout of the work area may not meet the needs of all of the users. If you have an adjustable chair or desk, it is sensible for each user to adjust it to fit them when they come to use the computer. You may find it helpful to mark the chair or desk to show the most comfortable settings for each person.

You may need to place the monitor on top of something t
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1.1.2 Quiz: Getting started

0 hours 30 minutes

This quiz will help you to become familiar with some of the terminology that you will come across in this unit. It is just for fun. Your answers are not assessed, so don't worry abo
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Acknowledgements

The content acknowledged below is Proprietary (see terms and conditions  )and is used under a Creative Commons licence.

All other materials included in this unit are derived from content originated at the Open University.

Grateful acknowledgement is made to the following sources
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12 Further reading and sources of help

Your tutor is the first person you should contact if you are encountering difficulties with any aspect of your studies. If there are any issues raised in this unit that you would like to discuss, you should approach your tutor. Sharing your action plan with him or her would be a useful first stage.

Your chosen place of study may offer a programme of learning skills sessions that should reinforce some of the issues raised here.

Further reading

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10 Reflecting on tutor feedback

When you have taken the assignment as far as you can, you will benefit more from the feedback from your tutor than you will from further polishing.

  • If you have worked hard to become involved with your subject you will really appreciate having a captive audience. Someone with as much interest in the subject (and presumably greater knowledge) as you, will take time to read what you have written and to understand what you are trying to say.


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8.1.1 Achieving a good polish

Here is a list of indicators you can use to judge your polishing techniques. Most guidance notes given to students include these points, but they are not always followed.

Positive indicators Negative indicators
It is word-processed or clearly and neatly hand-written. The assignment is written on paper t
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7.4.2 The introduction of an essay

What is the introduction of an essay and what is its purpose?

Activity 18

Write down your own understanding of the term ‘introduction’ in relation to essays.

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6.3.2 Stage 2 Create a mind map

Now you need to think about grouping the ideas, creating a flow for your assignment.

We started by grouping together our ideas and material for the essay on the possible advantages of being a mature student. This helped us to create a mind-map by seeing where links could be made and so made it much easier to decide where the weight of evidence was taking our argument (Author(s): The Open University

6.1.2 Essay planning

Carefully read the following short essay. Try to identify its strengths and weaknesses in terms of planning. Take your time, but don't think you need to be familiar with the content, you are trying to find what provides the writing's framework.

Then try to answer the questions that follow in Activity 13.

There are advantages to stu
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6.1 Why plan a piece of writing?

Planning is about creating a framework that will help you to make choices about what needs to be included in your assignment and what doesn't. Some people feel they don't need to plan: starting to write helps them know what it is they are going to say. If you recognise yourself here, we suggest you consider the points we raise in this section.


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5.4 Identifying sources

So what material do you have available to you?

  • Your materials are likely to be your first sources of information.

  • Any guidance notes you may have been given will sometimes tell you exactly which sections you need to look at. But don't forget that your course materials encompass more than just these texts.

  • Make use of any handouts you've been given.

  • Your own notes of what you have been reading or watch
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5.2.2 Opening up ideas: analysing the question

What do you need to know about your assignment? Most importantly, what it's about (i.e. the topic). Once you have worked this out, you are in a better position to gauge how much you already know and how much you will need to find out.

Activity 9

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4.3 Essays

Now let's turn to essays.

Activity 4

Note down what you consider to be the purpose of an essay.

Discussion

Michel de Montaigne, a French philosopher,
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