8.2 Broadening perception

Particular perspectives and points of view underpin speaking and writing. Being successful at many academic tasks, including balanced argument, often requires us to be conscious of and to try to break away from our usual perspectives and ways of thinking, and to attend to things we might not normally notice. The challenge is often to be more open-minded and broad in our thinking, to consider more than one point of view in the way that the caffeine article did. It can be useful to have strateg
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8 Analysis, argument and critical thinking

In this section, we are going to look in detail at analysis and argument. Analytical thinking is a particular type of higher order thinking central to much academic activity. It is concerned with examining 'methodically and in detail the constitution or structure of something' (Oxford English Dictionary). This includes looking at variables, factors, and relationships between things, as well as examining ideas and problems, and detecting and analysing arguments. Many essay questions require ar
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7.1 Hierarchies of ideas

A useful way of giving sense and structure to ideas can sometimes be to see them in the form of a hierarchy. At one end is the ‘big picture’ (e.g. general context, principles, theories, ideas, concepts) and at the other end are particular facts, examples and other details. For example, the concept of living things contains the category of animals and plants. Animals contains the category of mammals, which contains the category of dogs, which contains the specific type of dog called Dalmat
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3.4.2 ‘Real world’ skills

Although we are describing these as a separate set of skills, we hope that you can see the value of these skills in supporting your learning, as well as being important for many other aspects of your life. In this unit we have been focusing on:

  • communication skills
  • problem-solving (decision-making) skills
  • organisational (self-management) skills.

The next activity is similar to the one you have just done, but here the focus is o
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3.3.7 Entwistle’s theory – students’ approaches to learning

Noel Entwistle’s ideas are much more concerned with the ways in which individuals approach learning. They focus on how people go about learning a body of knowledge. This contrasts with community of practice theory which is more interested in how groups of people together create knowledge or understanding, as the St Kildans did about ‘high-rise’ egg collecting.

This might suggest that we are going back to where we started on this unit. You may recall that this starting point involv
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3.3.5 Communities of practice

Described image
Figure 22 Lev Vygotsky

3.3.4 The importance of other people in our immediate social and learning environments

Case Study: Levene

Yes, I had a lot of support from my family. You know, I suppose you could say you take that for granted but, yes, I did have a lot of support from my family. But in terms of feedback and a sounding board – colleagues for instance over the phone. Your tutor is another example.


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7.4.3 When to write the introduction?

At what stage should the introduction to an assignment be written?

Activity 19

A group of students attending a writing workshop were asked to identify the first task in preparing an assignment. Some answered ‘Writing the introducti
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7.3 Drafting essays

As you may remember from Activity 4, the main elements of an essay are:

  • the introduction

  • the main body

  • the conclusion.


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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

4.4 Stages in assignment writing

Activity 5

Note down what you think the stages are that you have to go through in producing an assignment, from beginning to end.

Discussion

You may well ha
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4.1 Writing requirements

Being a successful writer in one area doesn't always make it easy to know what is required in another. Here are some general questions that you can ask to help define the requirements for particular pieces of writing:

  • What will my tutor be expecting? (this is sometimes phrased as ‘think about the audience’)

  • What is the most appropriate format: report or essay? Do I have a choice, or is it stipulated in any guidance notes I've been
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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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6.2.4 Evidence ‘from authority’

When you present evidence for your judgements in an essay, you don't only draw that evidence from the text. You also often call on the ‘authority’ of other writers on the subject (critics, academics), drawing on their judgements. You can ‘make sense’ of other people's ideas in books, articles, TV programmes, and so on; and how to weigh up these ideas and use them to help you form your own. As regards your writing, you have to learn how to use this kind of ‘evidence from autho
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6.2.2 Representing visual and symbolic texts

We saw that when you discuss your judgements of a visual text such as the landscape painting or The Madonna and Child, you talk about its ‘composition’: the way the ‘picture space’ is organised; the relationships between ‘foreground’ and ‘background’, and between ‘figures’. You discuss the way ‘perspective’ is used in the painting to show ‘depth’; the painting's tonal range’, and its uses of ‘colour’, ‘shape’, ‘line’; ‘light’ and ‘shade
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5.3 A ‘circle’ of understanding

It may seem as if analysing, interpreting and evaluating a text are ‘stages’ we go through, one after the other. But it's nothing like as mechanical as that. You do not analyse a text into separate parts, then ‘add up’ those parts to produce some interpretation of the whole, and then evaluate it. Rather, analysis–interpretation–evaluation are overlapping processes. They are different kinds of activity, as we have seen by looking at them separately. But when you try t
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Learning outcomes

After studying this unit you should be able to:

  • understand aspects of human culture, past and present;

  • analyse various ‘objects’, interpret their meaning and evaluate them.


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3 Roles

Quite often in work situations we are asked to work with a group of people we have not met before and with whom we may seem to have very little in common. The group, which may be labelled a ‘team’, could be tasked to organise or produce something about which some of the members may know more than others. After a period of initial awkwardness perhaps, the group members start to find out more about each other and attend to their task. It is quite likely that each of the members will then te
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1 Communication

The basis of good communication seems very simple, it is speaking or writing clearly such that any message you (the sender) intend to send to someone else (the receiver) is exactly the one which they receive. This means that as well as the detailed content of the message, we have to give some thought to the language we use e.g. ask ourselves if the receiving person might misunderstand any words or phrases we use. We must also be aware of the way we deliver the message –
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9.5 Monitoring progress

Monitoring progress is about keeping track of how the work with others is going, making sure you are ‘on task’ and ‘on time’. You need to know how to monitor progress in managing a group activity and being a team member. This will involve considering the relationships within the group and managing the quality of the work by using the checkpoints to review the progress towards your goals and outcomes.

Monitoring progress in working with others involves you considering your progre
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