2.2 Developing writing styles

If any of the statements on the previous page rings true, let us reassure you: many other students are feeling the same as you. Writing skills can be learned. We want to emphasise straightaway that this is a process that can be continually developed.

There is no single ‘correct’ way of writing: different academic disciplines demand different styles. This can be confusing if you feel that you've mastered what is required for one course, only to find that something different is
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2.1 Your feelings about writing

Think for a moment about your reasons for studying this unit. Is it perhaps because you don't understand what is expected of you in your assignments, or that you aren't clear about how to improve? What are your feelings about your writing skills? What previous experience have you had (if any) of essay or report writing?

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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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Acknowledgements

Except for third party materials and otherwise stated (see terms and conditions), this content is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Licence

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

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8.6 Research skills

This kind of work teaches some very valuable skills:

  • how to set about an enquiry

  • how and where to find source material and information

  • how to make your own investigations

  • strategic planning

  • time management

  • cutting corners and being pragmatic

  • analysing and interpreting primary and secondary source material

  • forming your own conclusions<
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5.5.4 Evaluate the effectiveness of your strategy

Using the records in your Skills File, look back over your IT development work and think about how your decisions, and the facilities and constraints of your working environment influenced the way you tackled the task. How effective was your strategy in improving your IT skills? Identify what was and was not helpful in achieving your goals and outcomes, and assess how your own IT strengths and weaknesses contributed to this.

Evaluate your achievements against the criteria you establishe
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5.5.2 Use the views of others to guide your presentation

Asking others to read, listen to and comment on the presentation of your results can give you important feedback on your work. Think about who you can ask to provide you with constructive criticism and helpful comments on your work. To help others comment effectively, be clear about what you want them to focus on. For example do you want comments on technical detail, accuracy of content, quality of argument, general structure, grammar and spelling, presentation of results, and so on? Decide h
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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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5.2.3 Identify and research relevant sources of information

Spend some time finding out about what you will need to complete your IT work successfully and who you need to consult. You may need to arrange access to a library, to the Internet, databases on CD-ROM or online, or specialist training or publications. If you need to learn more about specific IT procedures or techniques (for example setting up a spreadsheet, using a database, archiving data), then look first at your course material and then at study guides or notes aimed at your area of inter
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7.3 Monitoring your progress

Use your records or logbook to provide a reflective commentary on:

  • what you did to help you set up and use numerical, graphical and algebraic methods and techniques to achieve your goals; for example, what you did to:

     

    • evaluate information from different sources and develop alternative lines of enquiry;

    • carry out calculations to appropriate levels of accuracy and draw on a range of nu
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7.2 Developing a strategy

Present notes or records to show you have planned your use of number skills. Include:

  • the goals you hope to achieve for your number skills over 3–4 months or so, taking into account the work you have to do and your current capabilities;

  • notes about the resources you might use and the information you need to research to achieve your goals; for example, discussions and econferences, online resources, skills books, course materials, wo
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8 Part B: Evidencing your information literacy skills

This Part requires you to present a portfolio of your work to demonstrate that you have used and integrated your information literacy skills within your study or work activities to achieve the standard required. For example, you might include learning about new search tools and user interfaces; using databases, catalogues and other resources more effectively; organising and presenting citations and bibliographies; reviewing critically the coverage, authenticity and authority of your sources.<
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8 Part B: Evidencing your IT skills

This Part requires you to present a portfolio of your work to demonstrate that you have used and integrated your IT skills within your study or work activities to achieve the standard required. For example, you might include learning about new software for a particular task, using databases and other resources more effectively in searching for information, setting up and using different ways of communicating and sharing information, setting up and using computer-based models to predict, expla
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5 Effective use of information technology

The purpose of this unit is for you to create a portfolio of your work to represent you as an effective user of information technology (IT) within your study or work activities. This will involve using criteria to help you select examples of your work that clearly show you can use and improve your IT skills. However, by far the most important aim is that you can use this assessment process to support your learning and improve your performance overall.

Using information technology skills
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3 Key skills assessment units

This section gives advice and guidance to help you compile and present a portfolio of selected work. You are strongly advised to read through this section so that you have an idea of what is expected.

The key skills assessment units provide an opportunity for you to integrate your development of key skills with your work or study. You may choose to concentrate on skills that you need to develop and improve for your job, for a new course, or personally to help you keep abreast of new dev
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5 Effective communication

The purpose of this assessment unit is for you to create a portfolio of your work to represent you as an effective communicator within your study or work activities. This will involve using criteria to help you select examples of your work that clearly show you can use and improve your communication skills. However, by far the most important aim is that you can use this assessment process to support your learning and improve your performance overall.

Communicating effectively involves a
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4 Structure of the assessment units

This key skills assessment unit does not have specific questions with word limits and no statements indicating you include, say, an essay or a report. Instead, as you tackle the unit you need to ask yourself ‘Which pieces of work show my skills and capabilities to best advantage?’ When you have identified and selected evidence of your skills, you must then relate this evidence directly to the criteria.

This method of building a portfolio is based not on providing right or wrong answ
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3 Key skills assessment units

This section gives advice and guidance to help you compile and present a portfolio of selected work. You are strongly advised to read through this section so that you have an idea of what is expected.

The key skills assessment units provide an opportunity for you to integrate your development of key skills with your work or study. You may choose to concentrate on skills that you need to develop and improve for your job, for a new course, or personally to help you keep abreast of new dev
Author(s): The Open University

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2 Sources of help

This assessment unit is designed to be self-contained. However you might like to access the following sources for support and guidance if you need it. These sources include:

  • U529_1 Key skills – making a difference: This OpenLearn unit is designed to complement the assessment units. It provides detailed guidance and activities to help you work on your key skills, gives examples of key skills work from students, and helps you prepare and selec
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1 Information and communication

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
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