5.1 Estimating the time for the task

First you need to know how much time you have available for your assignment. The pacing of your studies comes outside the scope of this unit, but it can be very de-motivating when you no longer feel in control of your studies because – for whatever reason – you have fallen behind. So it is extremely important to meet the deadlines set by the course team in your course calendar whenever possible.

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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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3 The purpose of writing

Let's take a step back and think about why you are writing assignments. As with most tasks, if you have an understanding of why you are doing something and how it fits into the bigger picture, it is easier to define what is required of you and therefore to do a good job.

So, what do you see as the reasons for writing assignments? Here are some suggestions:

  • to meet the assessment requirements of my course;

  • to demonstrate my under
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Learning outcomes

After studying this unit you should be able to:

  • understand what writing an assignment involves;

  • identify their strength and weaknesses;

  • consider the functions of essays and reports;

  • develop writing skills, whatever the stage they have reached.


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8.3 Planning your enquiry

I am grateful to Tony Coulson, Liaison Librarian (Arts) at The Open University, for his help with this section; also to Magnus John, Information Services Manager, International Centre for Distance Learning.

At this stage, you will be deciding what methods of enquiry to use and the scale of investigation to attempt. Will examining company papers, government reports and newspapers provide enough of the right kind of information? Or, since independent broadcasting comp
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6.2.3 Precise reference to ‘linear’ texts

You may find it more difficult to provide evidence from texts in which sounds, words or images follow on from one another over time (such as music and videos, plays and novels). Music is perhaps particularly hard to pin down. Sounds weave in and out of each other so that at first you may experience the music as seamless. But there are different ‘movements’ or ‘passages’ in music; moments at which a ‘melody’ is first introduced and later passages when it is repeated, for example. Y
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6.1 Making a convincing case

If you were talking to a friend about a picture hanging on your living-room wall, you might say: ‘I really like that portrait because the man looks so lifelike’. That is, you'd make some kind of judgement about the painting. (I've never heard anyone say ‘I really like that portrait because of that little white brush stroke in the top right-hand corner’.) So, in effect, you turn the process we have just been through on its head. When you are communicating your ideas to other peo
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4.3 Analysis and interpretation

We have got to the point of recognising that this is a lyric poem, and of thinking that it is probably about a lovers’ meeting. But you cannot reach firmer conclusions about a text's meanings until you have looked at as many aspects of it as you can. I think we need to go back again to the detail of the poem, because the analysis is not full enough yet.

For one thing, there is something odd about the poem's syntax. If you look at the verbs in the first verse you'll see that they are a
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1.3.2 Texts

We can think of all the ‘objects’ that we study in the arts and humanities as, broadly speaking, texts. They may be literary, historical, legal or philosophical written texts; visual texts such as paintings, buildings, artefacts, plays-in-performance and films; aural texts, as in the performance of music and in spoken languages; or symbolic texts, for example religious ceremonies, maps, architectural plans and music scores. These things are all ‘texts
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Introduction

In this unit we turn to the nature of the arts and humanities themselves, and look at the main processes involved in studying them.

Broadly, when you study the arts and humanities you study aspects of culture. You explore people's ideas and beliefs, their cultural practices and the objects they have made. Human history is criss-crossed with the traces of people who did, said and made things and these people were to some extent aware of what they were doing. So all
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4 Supply and demand: Kiran's story

The first six months have just flown by. I've really enjoyed working with the two or three schools that I chose following my conversation with my friend who is a student. I feel that I have established a good reputation for reliability as well as keeping the classes moving forward in their work. My family
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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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Acknowledgements

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

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


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9.7 Evaluating strategy and presenting outcomes

Evaluation should focus on both the outcomes of the work and the process. Two critical questions guide evaluation: ‘Did we accomplish our goals?’ and ‘Did we accomplish them in an effective and efficient way?’ Your evaluation should attempt to provide answers to both. Thus you need to know how to:

  • negotiate and develop effective ways of presenting the work by using the skills of the group members;

  • assess the effectiveness of t
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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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Working on improving your skills in working with others

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 techniques and tools for working with others, 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 cri
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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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8.3.4 Research information from other sources

Spend some time finding out about what you will need to help you complete your problem-solving work successfully and who you need to consult. You may need to arrange access to a library, the Internet, databases on CD-ROM or online, or specialist training or publications. If you need to learn more about tools or techniques (for example concept maps, critical-path diagrams or flowcharts), then look first at your course material, and then at study guides or notes aimed at your area of interest (
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5.4.4 Monitor and critically reflect on your use of IT skills

As you use IT in your work, refer back to the outcomes you hope to achieve and the goals you have set yourself. Ask yourself questions such as:

  • am I on track to achieve my outcomes?

  • what difficulties in using information technology have I experienced and what have I done about them?

  • how have the choices and decisions I made impacted on the quality of my work?

  • do I need to make any changes in the way I
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4.4.1 Organise and clearly present relevant information

You need to know how to present information in ways that best suit your purpose, subject and audience, that is how to structure coherently what you say so that a sequence of ideas may be followed easily; how to use a range of techniques to help present information and support your argument (such as diagrams and models), and when to use technical vocabulary and conventions. Check that your work meets relevant guidelines and conventions. You may have guidelines about this at work and different
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