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3.11.3 Maths, sciences and technology

The additional points we would want you to be aware of as you plan your revision in these subjects relate to the different ways in which you are called upon to present your answers. These might be:

  • short reports

  • multiple-choice answers

  • dif
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3.11.2 Answering a question in exam conditions

Write out a few exam questions on pieces of card, shuffle them and then pick out a question at random and try to answer it in the time the exam allows. Doing this can give you a sense of the amount you can reasonably write in an exam. You should also get an idea of whether or not you are being too ambitious about what you can cover within the time constraints of an exam. You should be wary of overshooting the timeslot for an exam answer, and not leaving enough time to complete the remaining a
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3.10 Thinking about the exam

It is worth noting the difference between exam answers and assignments. Inevitably, a much lengthier and more polished answer can be produced in an untimed assignment. In the short time available in the exam, you need to move quickly through your main points, without paying too much attention to your style. Examiners are fully aware of the constraints exams place on the writer. Focus on the question you have chosen, and underline or highlight the process words or instructions in the question.
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3.9 Understanding process words

Table 2


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3.6.4 Using a computer

Besides other things, a computer offers the opportunity to organise, reorganise, and delete material, without having to write everything out every time you make a change. It also allows you to make notes as you go along, file them easily, and add and update them in your revision period.

You may even find that one of your software packages supports a facility for making notes. You will certainly have a range of layout facilities and graphics to enhance your notes.

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5.2 Thinking for yourself

These are the kinds of questions you need to ask in order to read critically. As a higher-level student, you don't read simply to ‘find out facts’. It is assumed that you will think for yourself and question what you read and hear. The ‘truth’ is taken to be uncertain, so you weigh up ideas and arguments as you read about them. According to Marton and Saljo (1997, p. 49) research shows that successful students read as if they are constantly asking themselves questions of the kind: ‘
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References

de Bono, E. (1999) de Bono's Thinking Course. London, BBC Books
Entwistle, N. (1994) quoted in Supporting Open Learners Reader (1996) Milton Keynes, The Open University
Holmes, O. W. quoted in Robbins, A. (1991) Awaken the giant within. New York, Simon & Schuster
Rice, M. (1999) Observer Magazine, 7 November
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7.5 Mind-maps

Mind-mapping can be a particularly powerful visual tool for shaping thought. The basic principle here is to note down the central topic or idea in the centre of a piece of paper and work outwards adding the points which flow from and connect to it. It is particularly helpful for seeing the different levels of thought discussed above. Figure
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7 Giving structure to thinking

Two common thinking problems are: a feeling of not being able to 'see the wood for the trees', and difficulty in being logical and orderly. The key to solving them is being able to think about ideas and information in a conceptual and systematic way so that you have ways to structure your thinking. This can involve:

  • looking at the broader context

  • developing mental models and frameworks to hang ideas and information on

  • bein
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3.1 Thinking in a higher gear

While we can all think, it is important to recognize that the thinking skills we have looked at so far are not all required or equally valued in academic work. Common to all subjects and levels is the concept of higher and lower order thinking skills. Higher order skills are considered to be more complex than lower order skills. The triangle model (Author(s): The Open University

Acknowledgements

Appendix 1 Action Plan

In writing my assignments, I think I do the following things well:

I am fairly satisfied with:

I need to work on:

The first thing I am going to when I finish this toolkit is:

Good luck!

Except for third party materials and otherwise stated
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7.4.5 The conclusion

Having come so far with your drafting, how will you bring it to a close?

The conclusion should summarise the content of the main body of your assignment clearly and concisely. A final reference to the assignment title is often useful, emphasising to your tutor that you have indeed answered the question. Your concluding paragraph should not include anything new, though it may suggest what needs to be considered in the future. It should emphasise the key elements of your argument.

W
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7.4 Writing the first draft

Now that you are beginning to draft, keep the assignment's title in front of you. Refer back to it regularly in ordering your material. Are you doing what you are asked to do, or are you writing about what you want to write about?


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6.3 Planning stages

Having discussed the reasons to plan writing and the impact planning may have, now we need to look at planning itself and its two stages.


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5.1.2 ‘Good enough’ is OK

We can almost hear you saying that you never have enough time for your assignments, whatever your approach, and we empathise with this view. This may be even more of a problem if English is not your first language. It is well known that time constraints are a barrier in distance learning, and you may well have to be satisfied with doing what is good enough, whatever your circumstances. Your aim should not be to submit the ‘perfect’ assignment (even if there were such a thing). Look again
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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 understa
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2.1 Your feelings about writing

Think for a moment about your reasons for studying this course. 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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8.4 Carrying out research

During this stage you get down to the business of analysing and interpreting the meanings of all your primary and secondary source material (documents, reports, newspaper accounts, books and articles), in the ways outlined in the previous sections of this course. As you do so you will be making notes towards your project report. In this connection, it is very important to write down full references for all the material you use as you read each item. Then you can easily find part
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8.2 Formulating a question

When you make your own enquiries you draw on your existing knowledge of a discipline or subject area and decide on a specific question to explore; a question that is relevant to some aspect of the subject and which interests you. That means you must have some understanding of what the important questions and issues are in your subject area, and why they are important. In other words, you must have acquired appropriate ‘frameworks for thinking’ within it. That background ensures tha
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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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Process word Meaning
Account for explain, clarify, give reasons for
Analyse resolve into its component parts examine critically or minutely
Assess