This Key Skills Assessment Unit offers an opportunity for you to select and prepare work that demonstrates your key skills in the area of communication.

This unit provides you with advice and information on how to go about presenting your key skills work as a portfolio.

In presenting work that demonstrates your key skills you are taking the initiative to show that you can develop and improve a particular set of skills, and are able to use your skills more generally in your studie
Author(s): The Open University

A bar chart is a good method of representation if you want to illustrate a set of data in a way that is as easy to understand as it is simple to read. In general, a bar chart should be used for data that can be counted so, for example, we could use a bar chart to show the number of families with 0, 1, 2 or more children. A bar chart could also be used to show how many people in one area use each of the different modes of transport to get to work.

Bar charts are very useful for comparing
Author(s): The Open University

As a student, you are likely to present data in a table after you have carried out an investigation, particularly when you are writing up the report. Some courses include a small-scale project and this is likely to be the point at which knowledge of how to design a table will be useful. The following steps form a reliable guide.

1. Collect the data.

In the case of a project, you are likely to collect the data yourself, possibly from other written
Author(s): The Open University

Do you sometimes feel confused about how to create a chart, graph or table?

Are you not always sure which of these to choose to illustrate your set of data?

Why do we produce charts, graphs and tables anyway?

Spend a few minutes writing down what you think are the reasons why we choose to present data in this way before you read on.

One student has said:

If an exam or assessment question ask
Author(s): The Open University

Most of us are familiar with the word â€˜averageâ€™. We regularly encounter statements like â€˜the average temperature in May was 4 Â°C below normalâ€™ or â€˜underground water reserves are currently above averageâ€™. The term average is used to convey the idea of an amount, which is standard; typical of the values involved. When we are faced with a set of values, the average should help us to get a quick understanding of the general size of the values in the set. The mean, median and mode are
Author(s): The Open University

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 â€˜seeâ€™ you when you do join in, and will be helpful and supportive. Here are some strategies you can
Author(s): The Open University

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

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

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

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
Author(s): The Open University

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

Author(s): The Open University

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

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

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 â€“ pacey first paragraph

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

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 â€˜wifesâ€™ for wives, â€˜citysâ€™ for cities and â€˜carreerâ€™ for career, and Hansa â€˜sparcityâ€™ for sparsity.

## Spelling

People of
Author(s): The Open University

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

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 â€˜stopsâ€™ 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 â€˜wealthyâ€™:

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

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 â€˜unit of meaningâ€™. It m
Author(s): The Open University

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, â€˜yes and noâ€™. 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

By the end of this unit you should:

• be able to discuss why writing is so important;

• have an understanding of and be able to use critically the main criteria of good essay-writing;

• be aware of the basic technical and stylistic considerations involved in writing.

Author(s): The Open University