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2.1 Introduction

There is a range of quick tips in this section to help you get the most out of your computer when you start using it for study.


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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
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Acknowledgements

Grateful acknowledgement is made to the following sources for permission to reproduce material in this unit:

The content acknowledged below is Proprietary (see (see terms and conditions).This content is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Licence

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3.2 Using diagrams of your own choice and design

This option is the most challenging and most rewarding, as it clearly shows that you have explored and analysed the source material and reworked it for yourself. In many cases, the source material may not contain any diagrams, simply text or numbers, perhaps expressed as a table. Alternatively, you may have had to make some specific observations or undertake an experiment to produce your own data. In this case, you may be expected to produce a diagram to enhance or improve your assignment. If
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3.1.4 Option 4: Challenging and adapting diagrams

In this option, we take a diagram from the source material and either adapt it or challenge what it is trying to tell the reader. This is fine and indicates a thinking approach to the assignment. There is one golden rule: ‘State clearly that this is what you are doing!’ This is important for two reasons: first, the courtesy of acknowledging your sources, even if you have significantly adapted the diagram, and second, to demonstrate that you have studied the material carefully and produced
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2.2.2 Reading graphs and charts: manipulating numbers

Text is just one way of communicating information. Numbers are another way, but whether presented singly, in groups or even as tables , numbers often require a lot of work from the reader to uncover the message. A much more immediate and powerful way to present numerical information is to use graphs and charts. When you use single numbers or tables, the reader has to visualise the meaning of the numbers. Graphs and charts allow the reader to do this at a glance. To show how powerful these rep
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2.2.1 Reading diagrams: questioning what they say

With each of these diagrams, and with others you are trying to read, there are several questions you can ask.

  • What is the purpose of the diagram, that is, what is it aiming to tell us?

  • How is the information imparted?

  • What assumptions does it make about our ability to understand it?

  • What are we expected to remember?

  • How successful is it in doing all
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2.1.1 Rewriting text as relationship diagrams

A spray diagram can help with note-making. In this section, I want to go a little further and show how you can use diagrams to help you understand what someone else has written. Here, it doesn't matter how well you can draw, as long as the finished diagram makes sense to you. As you become more confident at drawing diagrams for yourself, you will be able to move on to drawing diagrams for others.

At this stage, you may still have doubts about the value of diagrams for understandi
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1.2.1 Relationship diagrams

Relationship diagrams are largely non-pictorial and aim to represent the structural or organisational features of a situation through combinations of words, lines and arrows, and a wide selection of boxes, blobs and circles. Examples of this type of diagram include the first diagram, entitled ‘Some of the ways … spread’, in the Collee article (page 398). Some other examples are shown in Author(s): The Open University

5.1.9 Music

Blom, E., revised by Cumings, D. (eds) (1991) The New Everyman Dictionary of Music, London, Dent.

Isaacs, A., and Martin, E. (eds) (1982) Dictionary of Music, London, Sphere.


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5.1.8 Media Studies

Watson, J. and Hill, A. (eds) (1984) A Dictionary of Communication and Media Studies, London, Arnold.


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5.1.7 Literature

Drabble, M. (ed.) (1995) The Oxford Companion to English Literature, Oxford, Oxford University Press.


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5.1.6 Languages and Law

Your course will recommend appropriate dictionaries, grammars and reference books.


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5.1.5 English Language

McArthur, T. (ed.) (1992) The Oxford Companion to the English Language, Oxford, Oxford University Press.


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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
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3.6 Taking an objective, analytical stance

One of the things I said an essay should be is ‘objective’. What does that mean? Being objective about something means standing back from it and looking at it coolly. It means focusing your attention on the ‘object’, on what you are discussing, and not on yourself and your own (subjective) feelings about it. Your ideas should be able to survive detailed inspection by other people who are not emotionally committed to them.

An essay should argue by force of reason, not emot
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3.5 Presenting a coherent argument

Presenting a coherent argument is closely linked to ‘answering the question’. The essence of an essay is that it sets out to be an argument about the issues raised in the title. Even if you have a lot of good material in it, it will not be judged ‘a good essay’ unless the material is organised so that it hangs together. This implies two things:

  1. You need to sort out your points into groups so that they can be presented in a structured wa
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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
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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
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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.


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